People change their names for so many reasons. I first became aware of this with women I knew who changed their names as a part of their working through experience of abuse.
Then there are those who have felt oppressed for one reason or another, and something about a new name feels liberating. In many cases, the magical power of the name reflects a religion or other belief system they have adopted.
It’s kind of a shame really, to select either a name or belief system in one’s youth. The insight and wisdom that might make for better choices doesn’t generally happen in the first 35 years of life – and the early choices may themselves have a profound impact on the person’s future. On the other hand, the individual’s choices then become a part of his story. Besides, there’s no guarantee that age will bring wisom!
Then there are those who change their names for ‘practical’ reasons – often seen in new immigrants who think a name like Bob or John will remove at least one of the obstacles to fitting in. This happened more in my generation, when there was high pressure to conform.
Above all, we did not want to be unusual in any way. Even having an old-fashioned name – like Hector during the Bob-and-John era – was an excuse for teasing. Absurd, really. I remember when Elvis Presley hit the bigtime – we adolescents spent the following school day talking about his ‘funny name’. The jokes soon stopped.
At the end of the day – or at the end of a life – the name is just a label for identification. What it has become, its meaning, its poetry, depends entirely on the person behind it or under it – and how he lives. However odd a name may seem at the first sound, it may well be sweet as a cello by the end of a life. Someday, people may even sing it.