I take naming something very seriously. I think it probably stopped being such a huge chore for me when we started taking care of feral cats and so many of them required names just so we could have conversations about them and their care. It became difficult to have those conversations when all we could say was, “You know, it’s the black cat. The one with the furry tail.” Eventually black cat with the furry tail became Monkey or Big Head Baby. Naming something, or someone, is actually a very important task. There are folks that get paid big bucks just to sit around all day and name things! I would love that job!
Having to come up with a lot of unique and unusual names, that we could actually remember from day to day was a difficult task, so to stay sincere to the beautiful animals, we put it out there for our friends to name many of the kittens we cared for. It’s one thing to just have a name of convenience. It’s quite another to have a name that some thought went into. Thinking about what to name something is just as important as allowing it to exist beyond the realms of your own empire. Having a name gives something importance and substance. It creates other possibilities and broadens outreach. When you can call something or someone by name, you allow the respect and reverence that goes along with being familiar, to permeate the whole experience.
Having a name means having a purpose.
Think about how offensive and heartbreaking it was to see numbers tattooed on the arms of Holocaust survivors. How incensed are you to be thought of as a number or a category, rather than as a person with a name? In terms of any kind of imprisonment, isn’t the first thing they do to dehumanize us is to give us a number? They take away all of your civil rights and sometimes they even kill us. Perhaps taking away our name makes it easier for them to take away our life force too. It is the first step anyone that is determined to exert control over another being’s life will take in order to break us down and make us compliant and listless with submission.
Once you feel like nobody, you become nothing.
O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
[Aside] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.”
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet two starstruck lovers were doomed to stay apart because they were born with the wrong names. In the end they paid for this with their lives, but not before letting the world know of their love for each other, regardless of their name. How poignant that love and feelings can transcend what earthly powers have deemed the law. To rebel against what man has put upon us is a gutsy move to take under the best of circumstances.
But let’s not drink the poison just to prove our point!
Just because someone calls you a name that you disagree with, or perhaps it even hurts you, doesn’t make it so. That old nursery rhyme about sticks and stones was a good one, but it was also total bullshit because I am here to tell you that words hurt. Words can destroy a person. Words can be weapons. But no one has to die just to escape the power of a name.
I was in a precarious situation not long ago where the name being shared about me was very hurtful. I remember asking one of my friends to have my back and she gently reminded me, “Your friends know who you are.” When you have taken care with the people you surround yourself with, no one can call you a name that any of them will ever believe.
When you know your name, your friends know your name too.
Today while you’re out there calling your friends by name, or petting your puppy, or pulling your favorite food out of the microwave during lunchtime, think about the various and numerous items all around you that have names. Think about the ones you hold dear, the names you love to use and think about the names you take for granted and even the ones you reserve for special occasions. Say them to yourself in a whisper, or shout them out into the wind, but take the time to be grateful for the one name that will always be with you until the end. That’s your name. Wear your name with pride and with happiness.
Your name is the most important name of all.