I wrote a column recently – seemed right, felt right, but that title I wrestled with wasn’t quite right …
I used to struggle, putting a word or phrase atop something. Just a few words to label it.
I developed a method I still use often – reaching into the piece for a phrase, often mid-sentence, that captures some essence of the piece which then adds punch for the reader when they come across those same words in the text. Sometimes, the other way ‘round, writing a sentence to capture my title, but not as often.
That particular day I just couldn’t get comfortable, couldn’t find the best description.
Should it be difficult to label something, or someone?
Shouldn’t it be obvious – just an accurate description of what we are made of, of who we are?
I thought of calling it ‘untitled’ which seemed lazy, and might be more fitting for a drawing or painting – letting the viewer see what they see, letting them interpret the message, so rather than the artist naming it the viewer can decide what they would call it.
When we look at ourselves, we already have a name – but imagine if we didn’t. Imagine, if you were labeled, just ‘untitled’, what would the viewer see? What words would come to mind to describe you? To describe me? It’s easy to try. Find a mirror, take a look. Does a word of phrase come to mind?
I struggle to self-define. Someone introduced me the other night at a meeting I was chairing with a bunch of kind and flowery words but one phrase, the one he emphasized, that caught me by surprise – ‘he’s always here’, which said something very important to me, something I have on my ‘list’, which is ‘to be counted on’. It’s partly a holdover from childhood – FOMO (fear of missing out), but there is more to it than that.
Being counted on matters.
I learned from a hard working reliable man of unassailable integrity – my dad. And it is reinforced for me every time someone I deal with demonstrates the converse – that they can’t be counted on. Or maybe it’s because they feel entitled.
I am reluctant to brag about anything – because there are always so many others who are better than I at things I do. I can only control what I do. I show up. I can be counted on. I’m always there. Not such a bad label/title to have …
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