Names…had potency. They pulled their owners in their wakes, the way that dreams can, the way you can wake up from sleep and believe that what you dreamed actually occurred. And even later, even when you realized the mistake, it was difficult to re-adjust your thinking.
But if dreams were potent, names were more so, especially the ones people chose for themselves. They might grow into the ones that were given to them, through the familiarity of use, if nothing else, but the ones they chose defined who they were like an immediate descriptive shorthand. (Charles de Lint. Memories and Dreams. p. 298)
Dreams touch us in diverse ways. Dreams of the bizarre, the hoped for, the feared all make appearances in our sub-conscious while we sleep. Usually they remain hidden, but if we come close to waking, to touching reality, then the conscience learns of their existence. When dreams touch awareness, then we touch the mystery and must sleuth out meaning or embrace the mystery. While the fears that wake us screaming in the night can paralyze us, we can also allow our subconscious to use dreams challenge us, inspire us or help us break through to a brilliant neural network of solutions
I often go to bed with a problem on my mind and awake to the solution fully formed. I have gone to bed thinking about right hand melody and left hand accompaniment patterns that would not go together. The next morning I’ve sat down at the harp and played the previously impossible on the first try. The subconscious is amazingly useful when we harness the power. The dream does actually occur in these cases, contrary to De Lint’s suggestion, because the dreams create reality.
Just like dreams, names are powerful. We gift our children with names that we hope they will live up to. My daughter’s name means “strong and womanly.” I think she has definitely grown into her name. My son’s name means “victory of the people” and I like the notion that his successes will help others. My name, a derivative of John, means “God’s gracious gift.” I was raised as a precious arrival, and definitely felt blessed and appreciated. Shawn is also, of course, more commonly a male name. Aside from the incorrectly addressed mail and being assigned to the all male dorm at college youth weekend, it hasn’t proven too problematic, at least since getting over the angst of youth. Perhaps I’m more inclined to celebrate the feminine with jewelery and shoes to counter the masculinity of the name. I think male Shawns are quite different from female Shawns, and that’s an interesting concept! As De Lint says, the name I chose is perhaps more potent because it is a huge choice to join individual identity in the union of marriage.
The names of the characters in Grace Awakening are carefully chosen. The names reflect the characters’ roles and personalities, or are small salutes to special people. I spent hours and hours on name sites getting the perfect name for each one. The names frame the personalities. Click on the Grace Awakening site and scroll to the sub-pages at the bottom to see articles about this.
How does your name define who you are? Have you changed your name? Would you change your name? Why? Why not?