What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?  A lot.  I discovered this when I decided that although I would keep my name as Dina Glouberman professionally, I would go back to my birth name of Zohar,  I had always considered Zohar my esoteric name, but had never used it in the world.

Zohar, by the way, means shining light or radiance, and it is the main book of the Kabbalah, the book of Jewish mysticism. My mother who came from Jerusalem, and whose father was a Kabbalah scholar, named me this, kind of in memory of my sister who had died before I was born and whose name was Ora, which means light.  Only trouble was that she didn’t tell me that I had a sister that died, much less that I was named after her, until I was about 12 when I asked the right question. That’s another story, and an important one, but it needs to wait till it has its own space.

With a humdinger of a first name, I got the middle name Diane, thanks to my sister Shira who at the age of 6 said “Give her an American name”. I was called that until my friend Joanie in high school started to call me Dina, the Hebrew form of Diane, and that stuck.  So I didn’t end up with an American name anyway.

But the point of this story is a different one.  I discovered when I changed my name that it was difficult for my friends, impossible for my family, and successful only in part with new people who found it a strange name.  More than that, it was a challenge for me too.

I discovered that all my memories and associations and my identity itself were tied up with the name Dina.  If I did a little exercise asking “If I were Dina’s heart what would I say?” I got a totally different answer than “If I were Zohar’s heart what would I say?”  That was great in some ways; Zohar’s heart felt pure and light because all the pain of the past didn’t stick in the same way.  But then, neither did the other experiences.

So who is this Zohar? A new and ancient  being of light, yes.  But what about every day in the world? I don’t really know.

In a way, it is like growing up in New York and then living in England most of my life. When you live in a country that is not your birth country, you never really have a home in the way other people do who have more or less stayed in their home town.  So it is with names.  On some level, I no longer have a name, because there is no term to which my sense of me actually sticks.

Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. Is this a good thing? I don’t think so.

I think it is just what happens when you begin to evolve and you are not who you were nor are you who you will be.

Is my  namelessness my chrysalis?  Let’s see.  That’s the thing about being in a chrysalis. You just don’t know.

I like that feeling.