Recently, I dipped into a book I’ve been reading on and off for the last couple of months. I may, if I am honest, confess that it is probably over a year that I have been it! The book in question is Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words by Susan G. Wooldridge. I reached the chapter that discussed the art of giving names to people. In our western culture, many parents spend a lot of time choosing a name for a child. The recent spat of royal babies illustrate the point by the heighten anticipation over the name of the child. So much so that bets are made and odds on favourites announced. Yet, once a child is named, that name remains for life. It may be shorted, or a nickname added, but the birth name stays on the birth certificate and it requires a legal process to change it.
The chapter in Poemcrazy, reminded me that in other cultures given names are fluid, and used to define significant points or events in the person’s life journey. The naming process can be repeated in response to what is revealed about the child or person’s development. For example, that beautiful moment when John Dunbar, in the film Dances with Wolves, hears that name that the Lakota Indian tribe, he has become connected to, call him. These people have observed his nature and found a name to express who he is becoming. It is one of my most favourite film moments.
I can identify with this naming process. My birth name is Deborah. According to my mum, I was named after the famous actress Debbie Reynolds because my dad admired her. Why I was not christened Debbie, I don’t know? However, as grew up, it was the name I chose to call myself. The reason for this was that I was only ever called Deborah when I was in trouble. I grew to recognised the elongated syllables Deb-or-ah and raised tone of voice, signalled displeasure, so I began using the name Debbie. Subconsciously, I felt that the name Debbie caused less offense. Then, at a critical time in my life, I came to realise that instead of trying to please and appease people, I needed to stand, so I took back my birth name… Deborah. Now, and perhaps because of the history, I find it really annoying if someone randomly starts calling me Debbie. Perhaps because they have taken it upon themselves to unthinkingly name me something I no long am. Yes, names are important.
Consequently, I began thinking about this journey into the second half of my life and how I perhaps need a much more fluid set of names to describe who I am… so here goes… there will be more… and you are welcome to join in and add your own. Who are you right now? what do YOU wish to be named?
Smiles at robins
Listens to the wind in the trees
Plants flowers for summer sun
Thinks on a cool porch
Finds treasures in hedgerows
Delights in the season’s change
Watches the still water
Stands on a lonely shore
Looks out to the distance sea
Lets go of the slip line
Well that’s set me thinking! Now, what about you… what not add your suggestion in the comments!?