So, I was named after my uncle. A good man, a good uncle, a great father and someone with whom anyone would and should be proud to share blood. When I was younger, I didn’t quite see that, or understand it. I actually thought the name was kind of dull and ordinary. A large part of me was actually rather upset that I didn’t have “my own” name. I wanted something fun, something I could get a good nickname out of. Perhaps something with a Q, X, or Y. I mean, let’s face it, we all do a double take when we see a name with one of those letters. Or, when a common name is spelled just a little bit different. Ok…maybe that’s just me. In the end, I think I wanted something a little different. Mostly because that was what I wanted for my life…something a little different. I suppose that’s why many of my characters (and a few alias’ used when I was a PI) have names like Jacen, Alexander, and Xavier.
It seems I’ve been living under an assumed name in my imagination my whole life.
At some point, I took a little more interest in my name. I suppose it was at the moment when I learned it was a derivation of Dionysus. Dionysus was a Greek god, a son of Zeus no less, and perhaps more importantly (at least for me), the God of wine, festivals, and theater. This was exciting to me. Don’t get me wrong, I did not enter into some delusional state that included thoughts of daily parties and debauchery under the illusion that as a deity, and son of Zeus I could not be harmed. But, it was exciting to have an interesting etymology to my name. Interesting because of my love for Greek mythology as well as my love for anything involving immortality, the supernatural, magic, the occult, etc., and so on and so forth.
Wait, did I use etymology right?
Onward and upward my friends!
As with many things though, the passage of time continues to excel in educating and enriching my life. You see, I eventually learned that it’s not what you’re called that defines you. My uncle’s life, his experiences and his character are what led to me being named after him. But it was not something that I needed to live up to. I would certainly honor him and take pride in our blood and patronymic connection, but ultimately, and I think he would agree, I cannot live my life based on who I am named for. Real or imagined, Dionysus is not looking for me to carry on in his footsteps because of my name. Although, I can assure you, it would be one hell of a party. No, in the end, it is not my name that defines me. Nor is it my profession, my educational status, or the balance of my bank account (and thank goodness for that). In the end, it is up to me to define who I am.
By our actions we our defined. We are equally defined by our inactions. The things we say or do not say, the things we do or fail to do, the things we fight for or ignore…these are the things that define who we are. This is how we are remembered and forgotten, why we are loved or hated and how we find happiness and fulfillment with our lives.
I’ve tried to be the best person I can be. I’ve learned some lessons, I’ve taught some lessons, I’ve attempted to give back through patience, understanding, and unconditional love and friendship. I’ve failed most times, but on occasion, I’ve found some success. If I were an NFL quarterback, I’d be a starter for a team that has a great deal of potential, but falls just a little short at the end of the season. I mean, we would be right on the cusp of breaking into the playoffs, but we would need a little help from some other teams. And of course the weight of that loss would fall on me. My stats are great. But without that championship…it just doesn’t matter as much.
But I will come back, game after game, and season after season…and I will keep trying.
Whether my name is Dennis, Alexander, Marcus, Jacen, or Xavier…I’m still the same guy doing the best he can with what he has. It is not up to our names to define us and give us life. It is up to us to define us…and give life to our names.