What’s in a Name?

“What is in a name?  That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Williams Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Today’s workout was a long ride… 53.2 miles, to be exact.  My original training plan called for a brick, with a 2 hour ride and a 6 mile run, but I’m fighting the urge to run before I feel like I’m healed.  So, I added a few miles to the ride and still got the aerobic workout and endurance training I needed, just in a slightly different form.

This particular route takes me through three distinct rural areas, each with it’s own personality.  On long rides like this, I always notice the signs… street signs, business signs, parks, etc.  There are some interesting choices of signage all around, and the names reflect a lot about the people who named them.  With all deference to William Shakespeare, while a rose would still smell as sweet if we called it something else, that new or different name would eventually evoke the same thoughts, feelings, and emotions as “rose”.  Names mean something, and they have connotations.

Sometimes, names don’t reflect the real nature of the thing to which they are assigned.  This can be good and bad.  For example, there is a private drive along the route I rode today.  The owners of the house named the street “Fellowship Lane”.  What a wonderful name.  It evokes pleasant thoughts and images of friends, joined together in the bonds of humanity, enjoying each others’ company.  Except that only the first 10 feet of Fellowship lane are visible… it disappears immediately behind an eight foot fence with a heavy duty lock and a large sign proclaiming the name of the electronic monitoring service employed to KEEP YOU OUT.  Fellowship?  Doesn’t seem like it.  So a name that doesn’t line up with the inner essence of it’s holder seems a disconnect.

The positive side of that, though can be a call to become what your name hails you to be.  Robert F. Kennedy said,

“Some men see things as they are, and ask why.  I dream things as they never were and ask, why not?”

If a name is so grand that it calls us to be more than we are, then it is good.  If it is intended to fool those around us into thinking that we are what we have no intention of being or becoming, who are we really fooling?

Not all names are too big.  Sometimes they are too small.  They don’t call us to all we can be.  For example, there is a park at the 18 mile point on my 50 mile route.  It is the only park in the area (for miles, really), and someone went to a lot of trouble to put it there.  There’s a great kid’s playground, heavy wooden benches, and lots of open space to run and play.  The park is named… Section 13 Park.  Really?  That’s the best they could do?  The really ironic part is that the sign in front of the park is a beautiful stone edifice, proudly announcing the name… Section 13 Park.  Really?

We do that to ourselves sometimes, too.  Ever heard someone disparage their running with the “I’m so slow, I’m not a runner.  I’m just a jogger.”  Really?  Do you strap on your shoes 2, 3, or 4 times a week and go run?  Only 5% of Americans can run a mile without stopping.  As an athlete, you are in the top 5% of Americans.  I catch myself doing it all the time.  Sometimes I’m trying to be disarming, but the off-handed remarks reveal what we really think about ourselves.  So, stop calling yourself “Section 13 Park” and call yourself what you really are… an athlete.

And sometimes, a name just fits.  There’s another private road (really just a long driveway) called “Yellow Brick Road”.  When I first saw it on today’s ride, my initial reaction was, “Oh, please.  How corny can you get?  Yellow Brick Road?”  But almost as quickly, the name conjured up the image… it’s the road to home.  No matter how scary the journey, or how many struggles, the Yellow Brick Road eventually leads to home.  Safety, comfort, security, and all the things home means to all of us.  Corny?  Sure.  A little silly?  Maybe.  Right on target for the people who live in the house.  The name fits.

So, what’s your name?  What do you call yourself in your head, where no one else can hear?  Does it call you to greater things, or hold you back?  It might seem like a small things, but I heard someone say once,

“Attitudes become actions, and beliefs become behaviors.”

What you call yourself, how you think of yourself, will eventually be revealed in your actions and behaviors.  It’s your name… PICK A GREAT ONE!

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