The 7th of June 1983 – Laurel, Delaware

(found on Willow Street, the part that runs over Records Pond Dam)

Let me tell you where you’re going wrong, Tommy.

Let me tell you where they’re all going wrong.

We’re talking about labels, Tommy, names. The issue, the issue I have, is that often times these things are not representative of what they are stuck to. Oh, no. See, they’re projections of what we want those things to be.

A chair is a chair, Tommy, I get that. That’s simple. A chair is a chair, and all it can be is a chair. It’s just blocks of wood. It’s just nails and glue. A chair. Good job.

But, see, when we talk about people, when we talk about human beings, we aren’t talking about things or objects no more. We aren’t talking about chairs.

We’re talking about human beings, and there’s some ethereal quality to that, to us. There’s something that isn’t just in a name or a label, no matter how much glue we use, no matter how many nails we hammer through it.

But that’s too complicated. Tommy, for everyone else that’s just too much. We need handles for things, right? We need things to grab on to so we can carry that stuff around, so that we can fit it nice and neat in our pocket.

And that’s where we go wrong. And that’s where we miss out.

I don’t understand it, but there are these people that just roll themselves around in these words like they’re an ice cream cone getting doused in rainbow sprinkles. They tell you they’re a contractor and a horseback rider and a yoga aficionado and an amateur chef. They say all that as if it means a damn, as if it’s who they are, as if they aren’t just wrapping themselves in a warm blanket to protect themselves from the cold nothingness of the night.

I met a guy, he said he was a lawyer. I looked at him funny. I had asked him who he was, and he said he was Brad, and he said he was a lawyer. See that was all he said, and I couldn’t believe it. Two words encompass the totality of your existence? And I just sat there, wondering how much of him is lawyer and how much of him is just acting like how he thinks a lawyer is supposed to act.

That is the danger of labels. That is the danger of names. When we apply them, to ourselves or others, we change who we are. Tommy, we aren’t lawyers or doctors, no. We are human beings with conceptions of what it is to be a lawyer or a doctor, and so we mold ourselves and change ourselves and limit ourselves to become a lawyer, to become a doctor – at least what we think those things should be.

No, see, Tommy, it’s more complicated than that. Life’s more complicated than that. To be who you are is much more complicated than that, so complicated that all the names and all the labels are just inconsequential. There’s something more. Tommy, there’s always something more. Don’t insist on anything, don’t let others insist for you, and don’t take anything for yourself because there’s always something more, more than just a name.

Keep your head up,


Check out other responses to the “Names” Weekly Challenge here:

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  36. A Few of My Favorite Things…. | Coffee Crumbs
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  42. The Lame Name Shame Blame Game! | Once Upon Your Prime. . .
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  45. The Daily Post Challenge – Power of Names | Wine goes best with a good book
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  48. The Wedding Paper: My name, your name, our name | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
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  51. We, the Dragons, shall live, for all eternity! | Wired With Words
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  75. Becoming Elexa Rose | Lexy’s Litblog
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  84. Suicide no. 36: The Death of Gary Elshire | derekalanwilkinson
  85. Power of Names: Three Words, Eight Letters | Living in the Moment
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  88. Power of Names | sothislife
  89. The Never Name | Response to Name Challenge | The Never Blog
  90. Weekly Writing Challenge: Power of Names | Occasional Stuff
  91. The Many Names Of Cat Madigan | The Adventures of Cat Madigan
  92. Names and Fish Bowls | Shawn’s Open Journal
  93. of names, claims, and a little defiance | Anawnimiss
  94. Weekly writing challenge: power of names – Debbie | Deb’s world
  95. What’s in a Name? | jennsmidlifecrisis
  96. Weekly Writing Challenge: Names ~ My Little Dee Dee | The Day After
  97. my name is… | the hilarious pessimist
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  99. Weekly Writing Challenge: Power of Names | Proverbs 31 Teen


  1. I think the date here (1980’s) is reflected so keenly in the sense of looking for identity here. There is such force/urgency in the language. Great post. Fascinating!

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