Lately I have been thinking a lot about my name. As an adolescent I often hated my name, as many children do when they realize their name is not similar to any of their friends or classmates. Why couldn’t I have been named Sandra, Jennifer, or Deborah? I was embarrassed.
But over the decades I’ve noticed that there are quite a few people, both men AND women, who share my name. How great is that? – – a unisex name. The shame began to subside. And how practical of my father whom my mother entrusted with the task of naming their youngest baby. “Either way it goes Dale works,” he said.
Growing up I’ve had peers try to pronounce and even remember my name. I’ve been called Bail (from the boys in my grandma’s neighborhood in the south), Gail (from older people who perform a double take after I tell them my name as if I said my name was OPHELIA or something), Dana, Donna, Denise – anything starting with D is what they would comfortably call me. Four letters strewn together and enunciated with perfect clarity: D-A-L-E. A very simple word. Sound it out! Maybe it was difficult for them to accept because dales are complicated by nature. By the way dale is an old english word for a valley; a U or V shaped depression that is longer than it is wide. If a dale is V shaped it was formed by flowing water over thousands of years. And if a dale shaped like a U it was most likely formed by formed by glaciers over the same period of time. In nature a mass of land was created by the energy of free flowing water. As well as the powerful complications of glaciers which are persistent bodies of dense ice constantly moving under it’s own weight.
According to Mirrian-Webster the name Dale means dweller in the valley. According to the urban dictionary dale is slang for “go ahead or “keep moving.” Regardless of my father’s reasons to give me that name, and in spite of how many people have trouble pronouncing it OR pretend to have trouble pronouncing it, I have comfort knowing there are many popular and powerful Dales and that allows me to have pride that I am the namesake of Dale Evans (music and screen legend), Dale Earnhardt (NASCAR world champion who died on the race track living out his passion eerily like his father,Ralph, did before him), Dale Carnegie (author of the best selling self help book of all time How to Win Friends and Influence People and one of the fathers of self help and public speaking organization the Dale Carnegie Institute, along side Ralph Smedley founder of Toastmasters), Dale Chihuly (brilliant glass blower and founder of the Pilchuck Glass School) and Dale DeGroff (the king of the modern cocktail).
All of the aforementioned Dales’s have impacted the world either by example or by guiding others to become self actualized. They were all purposed to be impactful and became monumentally successful by being who there were. My self talk is questioning how I can join the list of Dales. What are my accomplishments? What do people say about me when I leave a room? When anyone thinks of me do they smile, sigh, or swiftly replace the thought with one more preferable? Have I helped, hindered to hurt anyone? How do I leave my mark on the world?
Maybe my father was clairvoyant in the 60’s. Maybe he looked at this squirming screaming newborn and knew that I was resilient. Could it be possible that he knew I would experience two muggings on two different continents unscathed? That I would have a cerebral vascular accident while I was sleeping and end up still independent? Having to learn to walk, reason, cook, groom myself and drive all over again? That I’d have to reinvent myself after my business peers in Hollywood turned their back once they discovered I was sick? That I’d have to beg for jobs around town in order to breath life back into my career? That one day I’d have a pension for creative writing? That I’d have the nerve to publish a blog? That I’d in spite of these tragedies, I’d find love? Did he know that his daughter would tap into the energy of free flowing thought and live her life constantly moving under the burden of the visible density of her physical disability? That my life would be long and vast?
It seems that constant pondering is evidence of a self fulfilling prophecy because I’m literally dwelling in the valley of my thoughts while living in the SF valley.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. I suspect my father loved me to LIFE!