01 August 2011

Not Two

While I was gone a couple of weeks ago, Shodhin all but disappeared.  Every ticket, my passport, all reservations, etc. were under my legal name.  For week, it was all I was known by.  Between my fellow resident saying, "See ya, Shodhin, have a good trip," and "Hey Shodhin!  Welcome back," I never, not once, heard the name I ordained to.

Of course on one level a name doesn't really matter.  Names are expedients, contrivances, mildly useful designations that mark me out from my neighbor for IRS purposes and the like.  But of course, that's only on one level, and I don't need to rehearse the arguments why names do matter.

So I ask myself: am I taking this far enough if I'm called Shodhin only on temple grounds and among sangha members?  Really?  Why not at the doctor's office, with my employer, with the State Department and my bank, too?  When I meet new people, do I need to keep sizing up whether the Dharma name or the legal name is most appropriate?  Is this embodying the Dharma – or playing dress-up?  Can I get past the picking and choosing here?

(Of course there are many who, for all kinds of very good reasons, can't but do this name dance, and this has nothing to do with them.  I have no constraints on me at this point in my life, and these questions are aimed at me, and me alone.)

I'm thinking it's time for me to end the split personality and do the paperwork for a legal name change.  It doesn't cost that much, and while it involves a bit of a paper chase in contacting all appropriate agencies and creditors, people who marry or divorce (or who were blessed with overly creative parents) do this all the time.  Surely the judge will look upon ordination as a sufficiently appropriate reason.  I won't be the first to do this.

I'll be honest, though; something scares me about doing this, too.  Having two names allows a bit of hiding room, and maybe I'm afraid to lose that as an option.  I don't know.

I'll give it a few months.  If by year's end I'm still tilting toward making the change, I'll do it.  I really have nothing to lose and a lot of day-to-day integrity to gain.

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