In The Name Of It

I like spring better than summer. But if I were to use one of the months as my name, it would more likely be June than April or May. June is warm but not too hot. Green leaves flourish on the twig, instead of being teeny weeny buds.

By June all New Year Resolutions are put away for good, but the year end is still far, no pressure to come up with a new set yet. And June is time to start loitering on the beach, while the water is still too nippy to get in, don’t have to worry about being stung by jellyfish yet.

While April is like the name of a country girl coming to the big city, aspiring to become something lofty; and May sounds like April has failed to live up to her boast, retreating to be a housewife cooking up a roast.

A name may be just a convenience to identify each every one, but the subtleties in it are richer than spring pollen in the air. I am slow in catching someone’s name and its spelling, but I am oversensitive to the intimation of a sneeze in a name. Some name sounds unassuming, some name sounds more serious than not. A Mia brings up imagery different than a Catherine, a Brad seems more jovial than a Walter, while a Carter might seem have closer relation to southern rednecks than a Norman.

The names of Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise, they conjure up divided ideas. One leads to the Da Vinci Code, landing on the Hudson River like a pro; while the other suggests Scientology, jumping on a couch being a dupe.

I empathize with anyone named Junior or The Third after his father or grandpa. You can say he is proudly carrying on the legacy, but I always suspect he must feel slightly like a dwarf squatting under that laden roof.

There are last names so peculiar, you wonder how the owners had made it through their school years: Wiener, Beaver, Loser, Hogwood, Short, Long, Head, Hole, Bacon, Bunn, Cumming … While some names are just great: Audrey Hepburn, Faye Dunaway, Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Bruce Lee, Yo Yo Ma …

It’s more difficult picking a Chinese name than an English one. For the Duggars, a devoted Baptist couple who begot 19 kids, naming those babies was a piece of cake – apparently they just flipped through the Bible, steering clear of “Satan”, and each baby name came out decent and devout. Confinement is conducive to productivity.

For Chinese couples, naming a baby is a task much more painstaking. There are over 50,000 Chinese characters, and the combinations you could come up are infinite. You have unconditional liberty, but also immeasurable responsibility.

Something happens to Chinese people when they try to think of a baby name. They tense up, become solemn and stately. Feng Shui elements must be integrated into a name, as well as all the ancestors’ life dreams, unaccomplished missions, and never-died-out hopes.

A Chinese baby’s name reflects the reality of the family. If the parents are uneducated, the baby name will sound cultured and elaborate; if the parents are poor, the baby will have a name foretelling plenty; if the parents are grass roots, naturally their baby’s name will be high-flown.

A Chinese name reveals all the lacks and the hopes, there are insatiable needs and wants behind it. More often than not, once a Chinese baby is named, it feels as if a kite has been tied down by a grand piece of marble, a hummingbird overborne by all the manmade purposes and meanings, a spring fast-forwarded to the fruition of mankind.

I used to think, if one day I had a baby, I would choose the most special name. Now I think the world really needs no more babies to perpetuate the suffering, but if the event of naming a baby ever comes up, any name would seem fine to me. An Onion would sound as grand as a Piano, a Carry Out as elegant as a State Dinner, a grain of Sand just as vast as the whole Universe. No need to feel the pressure to measure up, no bother to sweat the small stuff. A name is just something meant for convenience, having nothing to do with a person’s validity or legitimacy, inborn errors or acquired essence, ordinary mind or Buddha nature. There is no sense in letting it become a tag on the prison cell.

One tag is not enough anyway, for all these lockups you live in. You act differently in front of your parents than being with friends. In that online ‘drag queen’ community, you act not the same as you speak to your kids at home. With some people, we feel comfortable to talk gibberish and nonsense; with others, we feel proper only to discuss grave topics, such as environmental issues, humanity cries, conspiracy theories of all kinds … just so to convince ourselves we are righteous and high-minded.

The way you showcase yourself at any given time, is not half a drop of the real you. Every facet you display exhibits only a little piece of you. Even if I could take a bird-eye position to oversee it all, the outsider view I get would still be far apart from your own experiences of your self. No name would be adequate to define anyone in whole.

I think the first step to grow up is to pick a name for yourself, apart from the names you are given by others. Actually we can use a new name on every stage of life. I like the name Dot because it is pint-sized and lightweight, negligible and insignificant, just the right amount of self-importance I need. A name should be like good acting, calling little attention to itself, without putting too much burden on the audience. It seems to me good writing and good living should be the same as well – every time it offers a little something as takeaway, but nothing more than what we are supposed to undertake.

Evidently I’m not well read – I have trouble focusing, and it’s too much work looking up every word in a dictionary. But there are good book names I love so much that it feels as if I’ve read the books: Life Is Elsewhere, Gone With the Wind, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Brave New World, The Naked and the Dead, The Joy of Cooking

I have no plan reading them any time soon, for the moment I mostly just like the sound of the names. There are more movies I’ve watched, but one scene remains fresh in my mind – the very beginning of Forrest Gump, where a little piece of feather is swirling in the air, so lighthearted and carefree, watching it makes you feel featherlike. It reminds me not to take anything in life more serious than necessary, including any given name or identity, hopes or fears, dreams or realities.

Spring has sprung. We’d best enjoy it while it lasts.

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23 Comments

  1. Oh my, you jumped right in with one of my favorite subjects. Names given with care shape a child’s life and illuminate his or her path on which to travel. Being of Norwegian descent starting with the Iron Age, I was simply the son of An. Then Anson, the I’ Anson and as we travelled our family name changed according to the language of the country we went a Viking to. Finally, we have 37 spellings and different pronunciations for the same name. My first name, Daniel became popular with the spread of Christianity and persecution of Paganism. So for 14 generations, a Daniel was given to the second son and here I am. The name is Hebrew and means, to judge. Well, we were never a Hebrew but the Old Testament of the Bible was a handy and fast way to avoid being burned at the stake for being a Pagan. I feel the presence of my forefathers for whom I am named and there is a desire to never shame them by being unworthy of their name. Most of all, it gave me a feeling of nobility and righteousness that I must not treat casually. Later, I married a lovely Korean woman of Chinese descent and became educated in the subtle meanings of names. Her name translated id Bright Star. My oldest daughter is Happy and my youngest daughter Is Big Smile. My son is naturally a Daniel and has inherited all of my Nordic Viking traits. I can tell we INFJ think alike. I have each of the books you named in my library in various stages of being read. This was a lovely topic which you make your own with excellent humor and interesting points and to top it off, your artwork is first class. I look forward to more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are such an interesting, charming, brainy, brawny, robust, beefy, sensitive, sentimental, considerate, thoughtful, warm, hot, perky, sprightly, shrewd, astute, skillful, delightful, creative, productive, beautiful, handsome, delicious, tasteful, manly, husbandly, fatherly, grandfatherly, lovely, jolly, holy, friendly, masterly … I secretly wondered what you’re made of and now your historic aristocratic well-traveled long-spelling Nordic Viking origin finally explains it all! No wonder your works are so rich, sophisticated, profound! Thanks for being so nice to me, Daniel. Your encouragement really helps boost up my confidence. Not all INFJs are created equal, you are the one and only. I am looking up to you and will keep learning from you 🥭🍏🍑

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are a delightful and Kind person Dot. You just boosted my confidence a lot as well. Truly, there is no greater super power than two a INFJ friends unless it’s 3 INFJ friends. We are the blessed. I’ll bet we will soon be able to astral project and read minds all while living safe and comfortable in our vast INFJ internal universe. Or maybe not, but it is fun thinking about it. 😁😁

        Liked by 1 person

  2. 😉 Happy Spring Dot!
    Wherever You Go, There You Are

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Leo Happy Spring to you too ☘️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fun Forrest fun! Keep up the good work

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jason 🍑

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Spring is always a time of anticipation, waiting for the year to unfold. It’s like naming a child – putting a label on someone you have yet to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love the way you bring the anticipation to another level – spring is not something we already know, but more like a baby still having mystery to unfold …

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The concept of naming is quite fascinating.This piece really made me think about how much our names influence us, and how much our current cultural setting can influence how people would perceive a name and it’s ‘owner’.
    Your examples are spot on too. If I were picking a sports team without any knowledge of the player’s ability, Brad would always get drafted before Walter. If it were a debate team on the other hand, that would probably be reversed. There’s no logic behind it, I’m being sold entirely on the branding choices of their parents. Brad might be a bookworm, Walter might be a jock, but it just doesn’t seem right.
    Only the other day, a man called ‘Morgan’ was being discussed at work. One of those names that has swapped its gender a couple of times through history, and is now apparently currently considered a mostly female name, and the poor guy was a bit defensive about it. In twenty, thirty or forty years though, a popular actor/artist/something might emerge which changes everyone’s mind again.
    I have three ‘given’ names because my parents couldn’t agree on my first name. ‘Tom’ was a compromise, and their real preferences became my middle names. Tom was a rather conservative choice back then too, as I found out in school where there were about half a dozen Toms in my grade alone. My surname is also great fodder for lame jokes based around a movie that was popular in the 90’s, so I don’t remember being very fond of it back then. But I’m comfortable in my name now, and I don’t know if it grew on me, or if I grew into it.
    On the subject of choosing our own names, I remember reading something in the back of a newspaper (back when those were a thing) on a write-in column where people were discussing unusual names. One that stuck out to me, and I’ve always remembered, was a man in my city who changed his legal name to Mr Bizee Bacon-And-Eggs. It seemed too outrageous to be real, but numerous people replied in later columns to say they had encountered this man, and he would tell people to address him as ‘Bizz’. I truly admire this fellow for his sheer panache, and for literally ‘making a name for himself’.
    Your wonderfully dry sense of humour and artful manner of constructing sentences and ideas always makes reading your thoughts a pleasure. Thank you for another insightful and stimulating read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Right when I was wondering how you’ve been keeping up with your colorful routine of taking pills, you popped up! I am so happy to hear from you. The name Tom is a favorite to me, my one and only childhood cat friend was a Tom cat! Tom speaks warmth, fondness, and generosity to me, bringing up an imagery of a good-natured cowboy, wearing his bizarre boots, tilting his hat to a peculiar angle, carrying a pistol with controlled recoil and firm grip … And Tom has a sly smile, but you always feel trusting toward him, knowing that except for occasional mischief such as kidnapping someone’s cats or riding a crocodile down the street, he is the type who has a mostly healthy diet like steamed greens and buckwheat bread … You’re right, it’s so unreasonable why we feel a certain way toward certain things, but things are just the way they are. Thanks for sharing the tales of names – reading your thoughts always makes me feel truly happy, and Mr Bizee Bacon-And-Eggs inspires my great admiration for him as well 🍳🥓🍭

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” And dot, by any other name, would always go deep.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. George, by any other name, would still stride into the infinity of an intelligent universe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Kitten!

        Like

  7. Liked by 2 people

  8. Liked and shared. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Outosego, I appreciate it 🍑

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Timothy Price

    You are up on culture more than I am. I’ve heard of the Duggars, but I know nothing about them, nor do I care to. If you lived in the high desert southwest, you might prefer May over June, It gets hot in June out here. Dot is also a fitting name for you because it’s to the point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not that I cared about the Duggars, I just couldn’t forget about them after I heard it somewhere. It’s a way ‘culture’ messing up with my mind, like the spring pollen … I didn’t consider the possibility that June would be too hot in the southwest – I thought I was fully aware of my ignorance, still I underestimated the scope of it! Dot really is a fitting name for me since I only see the pinhole where I am at 🐞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Timothy Price

        I assumed you didn’t really care about the Duggars, but I found it interesting you mentioned them. In some parts of the country July and August are the hottest months, out here the last two weeks of June and first week of July tend to be the hot season. Then we start getting the monsoons that happen mostly in July, August and the first couple of weeks of September. While it still gets hot in July and August, the afternoon thunderstorms cool everything off 20 plus degrees and makes the late afternoon and evenings nice and comfortable.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I am often amazed by your capability to pinpoint something interesting in the most unassuming happenings. You are a great inspiration to me. Sounds like the southwest climate really is dramatic and dynamic, dancing and dicing with thunderstorms and lightning, no wonder your music is so full of life, beaming with hilarious Space Humors. The other day I wanted to comment on it, but got ahold of myself against my better judgement 🐌

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Timothy Price

            You should comment. I’d love tho hear what you think of it.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. You got it.

              Liked by 1 person

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