The Wisdom of the Simpsons
Lisa: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Bart: Not if you call them stench blossoms.
Homer: Or crap weed.
Marge: Not sure I’d want to get a dozen crap weeds for Valentine’s day. I’d rather have candy.
Homer: Not if they were called scum drops
Lisa invokes a phrase from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in which Juliet seems to argue that it doesn’t matter what family Romeo is from. The rest of the Simpsons argue, quite convincingly, that it does matter. And in fact, Romeo and Juliet plays out as it does because of their differing houses.
Names make a huge difference.
The Effect on a Creator
But, more than just for the audience, a name affects the creator as well.
George RR Martin, author of Game of Thrones, has said his characters don’t truly take hold until he gives them a name:
With music, I am much more likely to continue working on a piece when I’ve given it a name.
It can’t just be any name, though. It has to embody the motion of notes, recognizing something about how they flow, collide, or merge, and even become a part of the music, stirring images that can harmonize with the sounds.
In doing so, a life sparks within it.
A piece like Alight, captures a sense of lightness, flight, and movement. While Devils and Angels Ascend speaks more of a dramatic movement between differing characters. Or at least that’s the way I hear them.
When you can name something well, it means you deeply understand something about its nature. Its story is embedded somewhere within the microcosm of its name.
The Effect on our Work
The same can be said about our work.
Particularly for those creative tasks, those pieces of work in which we don’t fully understand what the end will look like or the steps to get there until reaching the end, naming something well can generate a powerful movement forward, a magic imbued through reflection and understanding.
When feeling lost, a task such as “Write book” can easily lead to procrastination and abandonment. With greater precision, “Begin chapter of 3 of Waves of Focus with anecdote of the first student” gives us a greater sense of direction and ability to accomplish.
Crafting names for tasks, projects, and other items not only helps when we pick them up, but also in clarifying the nature of the work, where we are within it, and as a result, gives them a stronger living presence within ourselves with which to engage them.
PS If you’re interested in my musical adventures, join me at my Youtube channel on Saturday mornings at 10a CT. I’ve been playing online for about 15 years now, and it’s been a blast. 🙂