names of things

As I get older I become more and more obsessed with the names of things. 

The names of things matter. 

It's not just a bird; it's an Indigo Bunting.

It's not a flower; it's a Purple Loosestrife.

A. Name. In. Capital. Letters.

A name conveys something important, essential and meaningful. 

A name means "I apprehend you" in a way that's internalized and much, much more powerful.



On Wednesdays I pick up a basket of produce from the organic co-op. In my basket is whatever crop was harvested that week. Lately a lot of beets and cabbages. The basket encourages ingenuity. I would never have tried steamed beet salad with lemon zest and raspberry vinaigrette otherwise. This week I got talking to the pony-tailed co-op supervisor, Leslie, a former engineer now organic gardener in charge of volunteers at the co-op. He asked me what I did during the day. 


It's a tricky question of late.

I answered that I was in the process of reinventing myself.

Aren't we all, he replied.

It's hard, I said, but I am learning to live with less.

Leslie helped carry my basket to the car. Parking was often a dilemma. Leslie had very white teeth with a slight underbite. Despite the hours spent working in the garden there was something rain-washed about him, clean.

There's a word for that, he replied, blinking. He didn't wear sunglasses.

Yes? I encouraged. His face was evenly tanned.

Essentialism, he said. 

Essentialism, I nodded, was a good goal in life and writing.

Essentialism asked us to go beyond mere existence to the very essence of things, the inward nature, to find meaning.

It was not fabricated or contrived meaning that rationalized our behavior but true meaning that was waiting for us, if only we were bothered to look.

Like the sweet stain of beets.