Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Power Of Names.

A recent article came to my attention: How Names Influence Our Destinies. That same article cued up various mental chain reactions of thought that have been bouncing around my noggin' for years. Like a pseudo-psychological pinball game these notions have been setting off bells and flashing lights within me for years, it's high time I share the scores with you.

Now, as the article suggests, and I have mentioned to people before - names are powerful things. Even the Ancient Egyptians and countless other cultures knew the inherent power in a name. In various folklore it is the true name of someone or something that many hide to prevent power being excreted over them/it. They [names] can affect and shape us in both unseen and observable ways. For example, let's look to my own given name: Matthew Caine Gill. Now,  if we disregard the family name(an entirely separate issue lol), we can focus on the names given me at birth by my own loving parents.

I happen to have an book of baby names that belonged to my mother, printed around '93. So it's neither ancient nor cutting edge, and for the record since I was constantly using it to name characters in stories she let me have it. And due to it's middle-ground of age I think it a good place to start. Okay, so my first name is listed as Hebrew in origin and one with the assigned meaning of: 'A gift of the Lord.' Nothing really surprising there. So what about my middle name, aside from the obvious connotations? Well according to the text it is Gaelic in origin and is said to mean: 'Honor or tribute.'

So looking to the associated meaning alone, I have two names that you could interpret as meaning that I was to be a gift from the Lord marked either with honor or as an honor/tribute. Again that is just one view though, but it is something that has always held a sort of value and mark of pride for me. However, growing up I quickly found that there were a lot of Matthew's in my classes. So much so that, no matter how many times I pleaded to be called Matthew instead of the shortened Matt, I quickly became Matt G, Mr. Gill etc.

In contrast, I had never came across a Caine before. Therefore once I began college and found myself surrounded by people with no familiarity to me I decided to instead go by my middle name. I had always been proud of the name, and figured it a means to avoid the annoying confusion when someone called for a Matthew out of a room with several. The downside - I was enrolled at a school that was basically a Baptist college. I soon discovered that the associations of such a name were too much for some people to overcome, or separate from my own character. As such only a single professor could bring himself to call me by name, all the others would fight and struggle only to quickly resign themselves to calling me Mr. Gill with irritated tones.

Sadly this only furthered my inward contemplations on the issue of names. Over the years since I have found countless family members and friends unable to refer to me by anything but my first name. Some, because it's how they always have known me, others who had only known me by my middle name later found themselves opting to call me by my first after learning it. I could go on to list various other issues regarding my name and it's impact but I think you get the idea.

Now my parents have mentioned over the years alternate names they considered, and I have to admit I am eternally grateful to have the name I do.

Weather you consider it or not your name shapes a good deal about you. It affects your own personal views of self as well as what others think of you even if they have never seen or met you.