Sunday, February 06, 2011

Wherein I get a bit too philosophical about the naming of things


I have found that one of the greatest hindrances to progress is to hang on to preconceived notions. Taking a moment to wonder "what if?" can take us from simply gazing at the stars to walking amongst them. We have preconceived notions about a great many things and I was given an opportunity to practice letting go of those this weekend. I had an idea that I might play dice and paper with my friends, share in some celebrations, and watch the Superbowl this weekend. I wasn't entirely wrong and did manage to spend time celebrating Chinese New Year (xi nian kuai le!) with my beloved friends, but the dice and paper and Superbowl were not to be. At this point, I have no idea what went on during the game, commercials, or halftime show and while there's a level of disappointment there, I spent time actually relaxing today. All will be well.

In fact, it's a new week with new possibilities ahead and I think I might see if one of the specimens that I brought home from the British Museum is something new to people. I don't know yet, but it might be. So far, I have no preconceived notions of what it might be other than a butterfly I haven't looked at yet. I still cannot help wondering what I'd name it if it's new. I could name it after something mythological, following in the grand tradition of lepidopterists who have gone before me, or a colleague, loved one, or other person - also traditional, or something else that I haven't thought up yet. Naming organisms is funny business and seems to me a bit like signing your own name to someone else's work of art. I, of course, had no hand in the formation of any organism other than my own offspring that I might give a name to, but it's out of love that I'd give it a name and an identity. I suppose that's the same reason we give names to our children or even to our pets. If we didn't care, we wouldn't set them apart from the others by naming them.

Madeline's Mismatched Sock#1

It's the same reason, I suppose, that we who knit often give names to our projects. We spend time in their creation, getting to know them, understanding each interlocking loop, each stitch as an act of love toward not only that which is created, but the person who will eventually use the object. If knitting brought me no joy, I wouldn't do it. I suppose that's true for everything else I can think of that I do.
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