Quite literally. FIRST names. Not just your name that comes first on a traffic ticket, or what you call yourself online.
No, this is about your very first name.
I dreamt I was zoning out at this Beverly Hills party when a popular actress came up and asked what I was doing. She was worried I was either a bit too “happy” to drive, although she thought I might be meditating.
I was in baddha konasana, and I had my mind and breath exactly where I wanted them, so she was mostly right.
Anyway, she wasn’t bothering me. She’d seen me someplace and knew my name. I didn’t know hers and asked. She gave me her famous name, and I asked her for her REAL first name, the one that she was born with.
Why? she asked.
Give me your hand, I said, holding my own out palm up. She rested her hand on top of mine. I didn’t move a muscle, but looked into her eyes.
This is your hand, but it’s not yours. It was given to you by your parents, their parents, and unknown numbers of other living things long forgotten. You have had this ever since the universe created you, and it will remain in your possession for a short time. This is a gift, and you take care of it precisely because it is a great gift. A gift of love from all those before you. When you are done with it, it returns to the universe to become a gift to someone else.
I put my hand in my lap and she took hers back, looking at it, then looking back at me.
Your name, your first name, the one that was given to you by your parents, tells me something about you that can’t be told any other way. That name was created by your parents and bestowed upon you as a brand new life within the universe. That name holds their hopes, and their fears. It tells a story about them, as individuals, and a couple. It may also hold clues to your own history, ancestors who struggled so that you would be here, now. That name is important not because you were born with it, but because it contains your history. When you are done, that name remains as part of your family’s memory.
Your Hollywood name, like my stage name, is for publicity. They want something to remember us by, but you well know that what they know of you is artificial, created on the screen. The real you is inside, just the same as your real name still resides, here. I pointed to her heart.
Her friends came up to us at that point and wanted to know what we were talking about. I smiled and told them I was going back to sleep. Being an old man lets me get away with stuff like that.