Ideas want to be free

In her book “Big Magic” Elizabeth plays with the idea that we don’t have ideas but rather that they are already out there looking for a host. That ideas find us, and stay a while, but that if we don’t do something to help them become real, they’ll go and find someone else. I find it an attractive idea, to give ideas a sense of autonomy.

Right now, as we feel our way out of this pandemic, I suspect there are lots of ideas roaming out there. If we stay with the “idea as wild animal” metaphor for a moment, then too often the way we treat them could only be considered cruel. Our tendency is to cage them in intelectual property cages, and worse, domesticate them. Treat them as though we own then, and in so doing turn wolves into lap dogs. Give them names and expensive collars and carry them round with us for our friends to admire.

Ideas need to be free, to find the host that will nurture them rather than tame them, Respect them for their beauty and potential, and take joy not from ownership but in seeing that potential realised.

There are a lot of ideas out there looking to grow. Keeping them in intellectual property kennels when they would benefit us all by running free harms us all.

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