Saturday, August 9, 2008

To Name a Rose

"A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet."

Playing around with the most fundamental piece of my identity, my name, is an interesting journey. I am amazed at both the acceptance and resistance I've met to the idea. While some have been quick to make the change and honor what it symbolizes, others are confused as to why I'd change my name, why it matters or just really can't see me other than by the name they've previously called me. And it's all good. I have given people permission to call me what they feel they want to call me, at least during this great transition period. In time, I think the new name will stick and it will become as natural as any other name I've been called over the years.

As many of you have watched the unfolding of the tall penguin over the past year, you have witnessed many changes to my thoughts, feelings, and behavior. I am amazed to find people placing me into new boxes, labeling me with new judgments and creating new files for who they think I am. The terms "hippie", "raver", "party girl", "goddess", "writer", "mother hen", "fag hag" and even (never thought I'd get to wear this one) "slut" have been applied to me in recent months. It always makes me smile to hear how someone perceives me. I sometimes play with this, giving people just enough information to make a judgment and find that they will only interpret me according to the information given at the time in that particular context. We all do this. It's human nature. But it's fascinating to watch.

So who are we? What defines who you are? Is it what you do? But that changes. Are you defined by what you did yesterday, are doing today or what you will do tomorrow? Is it your beliefs? They change too. What about your thoughts or feelings...are they a basis for defining you? Alas, these are the most changeable aspects of who we are. Passing blips on the cerebral radar. When all this falls away, who are you really? Is there some unchangeable part of you that always is? Is it possible to meet each other in that place, in that place beyond language and labels and judgment and doing and thinking and feeling? Is it ever possible for me to really be with you? Or are we to be forever caught in relating to the changeable, to the ever-malleable personas we create for ourselves and others?

I long to lead an authentic life. I long to touch that part of you that is the same as that part of me. To sit with all that is. To be. Just to be.

tall penguin


samina said...

I've been thinking about the name and identity thing for the past two weeks. People think I'm insane for it- afterall does a name really mean anything? I'm a Samina...the Arabs say it means fat and the Pakistani's see the meaning as healthy. Apparently there is also a river called Samina.

Have you read Coelho's 'The Zahir', I almost choked when I reached the part when he was asked to give himself a name. It's not easy to do.

tall penguin said...

Hi Samina, thanks for stopping by.

I had a look at your blog. Do you write anywhere about your thoughts on your name change? I'd be curious to hear someone else's experience. I have friends that have changed their name but most of them had a guru/teacher name them. I know of few people who have named themselves.

And yes, I've read The Zahir. Coelho's my fave author. I've actually been wanting to re-read it lately. Your post has given me the universal nudge to pick it up again. So thank you for that.

Namaste fellow traveler.

Ged said...

Names are invariably given rather than chosen. I guess some folks think it's a bit of a cheek to reject a perfectly good name, like returning a present to the giver.

I lived with a lesbian couple for about 10 years. What is the male equivalent of a fag hag - a dyke mike?

tall penguin said...

"I lived with a lesbian couple for about 10 years. What is the male equivalent of a fag hag - a dyke mike?"

Hey ged, according to wikipedia, you would be known as a "dyke tyke" or a "Dutch Boy". :)

Ged said...

How did we ever get by before wiki?

...friendships between heterosexual men and lesbians are addressed with the slang terms lesbro, dyke tyke, Dutch boy, dyke dog, and rug doctor...

Umlud said...

Anya, although I'm currently at a workshop in Chile, I'm listening to stuffed-up department heads giving themselves pats on the back while reading word-for-word from their slides.

For me, my name (my real one) is one that people continuously mispronounce, and I've had to - from a young age - take a hold of my identity. This was helped by the fact that my name is almost never used as a first name, but has many that sound similar. due to this near-unique nature, I have been given the benefit of having a name that I am defining as I see fit, and no others have a presupposition of what I am.

Having grown up around the world, I have had the chore and the benefit of having to constantly define and redefine myself based on new experiences, greater global understandings, and remaining a constant minority whereever I have lived. I went through a time when I tried to learn the meanings of my name through books and learn how to fit these meanings to me. I always knew, though, that ny name was chosen to work in English and Japanese, and the meaning of my name in each language is different, but fun to try and fit together. Other things I have had to deal with are various meanings in other languages, with my name sounding like the word for salt in one language to the word for king in another.

It's great that you are learning how to mold yourself to your name and your name to yourself. It is itself a long journey, and I hope it is - in the end - a good fit; a better one than your previous.

Randy said...

I'm sorry I missed this.

Names have power, that's all I can say.