I’ve been thinking about the power of words, specifically names. Each job had a name. Some of them were unique and some the same as an ancestor or just another person in the world. Regardless of similarity, each person’s name was a part of their identity, though only a part of it. But names. Similar to when I spoke about funerals and the impact of people, each name has an impact. The words that make up that name had an impact. Who defines that impact and who owns the words that make up the name that define that impact?
The power of the ownership of words is something I never thought of before this work, but everyone, whether they have the most common or unique name, is entitled to the ownership of it. How many people take that ownership seriously or even realize they have it?
Words have power by our association to them. Derogatory words are the obvious ones, but names have this quality as well. They are associated with reputations, both personal and public. The validity of public associations can be argued until the lights go out, so I will argue that it is the personal that matters the most. Have you taken ownership of your name? Do you look at yourself in the mirror and recognize that you are who you are? Does your name factor into your identity? Again, moot questions, but I still ask them because when I look in the mirror now I define myself not by the name I have or once had, but by my actions and my interactions with people. I don’t own the words that represent me on my official documentation nor on the variety of forged documents I also carry. These words could belong to anyone and they do, just not me. I don’t really know who I am anymore beyond my jobs and the words that represented all of them. I am each and every one of those people because I am no longer who I was and by doing what I have done I have taken ownership of those names because when I look in the mirror I would rather be any one of them as opposed to the person in the reflection.
The last thing I wanted to say on the subject is make your identity your own, if you haven’t already and don’t let the public – whether it’s your three best friends or a hundred thousand strangers – have any deed to it. Every part of your identity you give away will never return, at least not in the state it left you. I hate saying that, but coming from me, a person who had his identity effectively stolen I don’t want the same thing to happen to you, unless it’s already too late. Then I guess we haven’t turned out all that different after all.