What's In A Name?
Monday, September 23, 2013 at 11:08AM
Daniela Gitlin in On Being Alive

Acrobat Monkey Paper Doll - Print Your Own!I’ve wanted to rename this blog for a long time. Shrink Unwrapped referenced my day job, which I’m not writing about here. Does being a shrink inform these posts enough to justify the title? Is being a shrink essential to who I am?

Who am I? I can’t seem to find the sweet spot answer. The Me That Knows says, What’s the dif? The Me That Craves keeps falling for cons conflating form with function. 

Being a psychiatrist is not neutral, like say, a librarian or plumber.  Along with the competence that results from life and death responsibility, the role carries a heady perfume of Answering The Call and Doing Good. I do valuable work; therefore, I am valuable. Very seductive. 

There’s the momentum of thirty years, my adulthood. 

The work is consuming. As residents working hundred-hour weeks, we joked: The longer you stay, the longer you stay. As if that would change when the residency ended.

The more you know, the more there is to know.  The more people you help, the more there are to help. To be a healer is to be given access to infinity. 

My mind wonders, Should I ground in that? Merge with that? My body shudders: Moth to flame! Danger! Danger! Guess not. 

Though I wish I could go deep in one thing for a lifetime, like Donald Westlake wrote or Georgia O’Keefe painted, it’s not my way. I am given to enthusiasms. Decades long enthusiasms. So I don’t flit. But I do keep adding. And with each addition, I ask anew: Is this It? Is this Me? 

Something in me remains persistently befuddled. Doctor: Who, me? Writer: Really? And just last week: “You’re a dancer!” I am?

This started in kindergarten. It’s the teacher’s fault. She handed me a sheet of paper and said, like she was giving me a present, “This is your name!” I got all excited. I decoded the squiggles into individual letters: D a n i e l a…??? Dismay swamped me. The letters floated blackly on the whiteness of the page. This is Me???

Before, my name and I were one. After, two. There was no going back. I became, for better and worse, self conscious.

Loss of innocence aside (It had to happen. Oh, well.), names are useful. As a symbol of a thing’s essence, names specify, speed and smooth social transactions. When picking up a pizza, going through airport security, or hearing Hubby bellow for me from outside the house, Daniela gets my attention far better than Hey You! And like clothes, names shield from weather, and drop hints about the values and agenda of the wearer.

Which brings me back to the blog rename. As a title, Shrink Unwrapped was dressy. I admit to a pang letting it go. But it would be easier to get up from the floor and dust off my butt wearing something loose and comfortable. So, for now, Plan Be. 

"Flowing water never stagnates, and the hinges of an active door never rust."   ~Confucius

PHOTO CREDIT: Dr. Ignatius M. Skinny

Article originally appeared on danielagitlin (http://danielagitlin.com/).
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