Language is hard work, but there’s a deep an ancient power in naming what you want.
You have to give it a name.
“I don’t know Jon, that’s sounds kind of hard.”
I know. I get that. You go have a nice lie-down. Let me know when your ready to pull the finger out and do some real work.
But it’s there. It’s on the tip of your tongue. It’s waiting to be spoken. It’s waiting for you to wake your language into its freedom, so it can speak of the things that are still just beyond the reach of your dreaming.
It’s waiting for you to name it.
But, I get it. Naming it is hard. I mean, even naming who you are today is hard. What do you really like? What do you really love to do? What are the scars you carry and how do they affect you now?
It’s hard work to get to know someone properly. Especially someone who likes to keep themselves hidden as much as you do. And harder still when you yourself have become complicit in the deceit – an agreement to not look too fully at your flaws, or meet your own eyes in the mirror.
A bald patch whose name cannot be spoken.
But you have to name it. You have to name as much of yourself as possible. Set out with a dozen camels and name every river, pass and mountain. You have to get to know yourself.
And beware the seductive and superficial names – the ones that are easy to take.
I knew a man who could rank his top ten whiskeys for you. He had figured out which golf clubs were right for his style of game. He could tell you why Suburus were the best in their class.
But he couldn’t tell you how much he loved his children, how much he mourned for his first wife, or if ultimately, he even wanted to be a builder or a dancer.
These things remained in the shadows beyond the reach of his naming. He never asked and he never saw.
And that’s not his fault. He had been raised in a culture of blindness – where you don’t explore your self too much, don’t pick at the surface. Keep the wounds covered and hope they heal in time.
His grandad lost two brothers to the war. His grandad’s grandad was a refugee from Ireland, who never saw his mother again.
Dig into any family history and there will be corpses of hurt held down by gravestones of ‘just getting on with it.’
That’s what humans do. We just get on with it. We turn a blind eye to the suffering that is too painful to bear alone (most suffering is too painful to bear alone), and we train ourselves to keep silent.
If it cannot be named then it can not take form.
Keep it hidden deep inside. Let the knots of grief and pain you carry unravel with your bones when you’re safely in your grave.
It might sound like I’m mocking it, but there is a nobility in this idea. We want to protect them from our pain. Don’t let the kids see it, they’re too young. Don’t let your friends see it, they have their own problems. Don’t let your parents see it, they’re too old to worry about you now. Don’t let yourself see it, there’s so many things you have to do.
Carry it with you to the grave. Release it beneath six feet of dirt, and the smothering weight of a tombstone. It will be safe down there. It will never find it’s way out to trouble any one.
But of course it does.
That’s not how it works.
Your hurt and your grief is not a zombie you can muzzle and bury in earth.
Your hurt and your grief shape who you are. And of course the contortion acts you pull throughout your life to keep it all hidden and to keep yourself blind – they shape you too.
And by those shapes, you kids will know it, and their kids will know it too.
Generations stalked by nameless ghosts.
But this is also not what I am talking about. I’m talking about you. I’m talking about how you name yourself and name your future.
But it is the same discipline. Putting what is hidden into words.
And yeah, it’s hard. I cut my teeth in copy-writing. Language is a bitch of a medium.
The way I experience it, it’s like there’s a barb-wire fence between the field of inspiration and the field of language.
In the field of inspiration, everything is possible. Nothing is named and everything is everything at once. Every possibility, every energetic form and movement. Every idea is perfect.
In the field of language though, that’s where these perfect ideas get distilled down into words, as imperfect and as limited as they are. They say that the Inuit people have 70 different words for snow. Australians have 70 different words for dingleberry.
But what if your language doesn’t have that sophistication and nuance? You just do the best you can. And the truth is, no language is perfectly sophisticated and nuanced. No language can name every point on the full spectrum of human emotion and experience. We’re all just doing the best we can.
And so what does writing feel like to me? It feels like I’ve got to jump over the barb-wire fence into the field of inspiration, grab a 300 pound ram, and wrestle the bloody thing back over the fence before it gets away from me.
… AND where I then have to apologise to people. “No really, I thought it was going to be awesome. Yes, no, it is a bit disappointing now you look at it… and you’ve got dingleberries on your shoes. Sorry.”
So naming things is hard.
Its doubly hard.
Naming your hurts is hard, because to get clarity on them you have to let them come alive within you. And naming your future is hard, because you have to learn what really excites your spirit.
But naming is also hard simply because the act of putting things into words is hard. It’s the most recent human faculty, and it’s a less than perfect process.
And lets’ be honest, fellahs in particular just don’t get all that much experience with the talky talky. So we are inexperienced users, trying to shape a bitch of a material with less than perfect tools.
Talk about a tough gig.
But it is important.
I think it’s exactly what I was talking about with staying blind to our hurts.
If it cannot be named, then it cannot take form.
This world is not a world of inspiration. Nothing is perfect. Your dreaming will always be bigger, more wild, more exciting than anything that this world can deliver.
Life’s still going to be awesome, but imagination knows no limits. This world does.
So the act of calling our life into reality is an act of drawing the inspiration that excites your heart into this fallible, fudgy old world.
And the first step in that is to give it a name.
“In the beginning was the word…”
And since that naming is doubly difficult by nature, we need to practice.
We need to take the time to start giving our dreams a vocabulary. Start building the capacity to put flesh on our inspiration.
(You say you want to go sky-diving, but is it the thrill of flight or the shiny jump-suits that gets you going?)
On this front, everything helps – vision boards, dream journals, chakara crystal suppositories. But everything helps – even just getting together with your mate at the pub and finishing this sentence: “You know what I think I really want in life, it’s…”
Just start talking it out. Just start throwing words at your dreams and see which ones stick. And forgive yourself if you don’t nail it straight away
… or even ever.
Just talk it out.
And this brings me back to what I said at the beginning: It’s waiting to be spoken. It’s waiting for you to wake your language into its freedom.
And by that I mean, it’s not an act of creation, but just an act of naming.
Just as your hurts lurk in the inspirational field and cast their shadow over your day to day life, so does the beautiful life that is waiting for you.
It has already been created. Maybe it’s destiny. Maybe it’s just unique to your soul. But you can feel it – the beautiful, charged and inspired life that’s waiting for you. It’s there at the tip of your tongue, just waiting to be named.
So build a discipline around naming it. Build the vocabulary of your dreams. Talk it out with anyone who’ll listen. Any time in this space is time well spent.
Name your life and the life will follow.
This is the way of creation. It’s with the word.
And yes, it’s hard. It’s doubly hard.
But do your best.
Because on the seventh day, you can rest.