Naming of a soul

When I was 18 I changed my name. For my entire life I had felt like my name wasnʻt the right fit. Not bad. Just not on point. When I decided to formally change my name I let the idea simmer. I waited for a sign. A message from the universe. I didn’t want to “pick” a name from a book or simply create a name with a trippy spelling. I wasn’t trying to stand out. I wanted to fit in–with myself. My purpose was calling me. My ancestors were too.

Naiʻa means dolphin but I didn’t actually know that at the time. I am part-Hawaiian and know Hawaiian words but donʻt speak my mother tongue (which is a story in itself). In any case, the word or name “Naia” (sans the ‘okina or glottal stop) came to me (kind of in a waking dream) and when I found out what it meant I knew I had been given my sign. 

The reason this name was so meaningful is that dolphins were deeply symbolic creatures for me. I think it was my swimming with dolphins that solidified the dreamtime relationship I had had with them throughout my life. But knowing this was the name I would choose is one thing. Making it legal is takes paperwork and paying fees... as well as facing the odds looks from family and friends.

However, changing my first name wasn’t all that I did. I dropped my last name too. Lewis an English spelling of what is actually a Portuguese name. A phenomenon that has happened often when people move across continents and oceans, and they’re moving with the intent to create an entirely new lives in a new country. 

Needless to say my dad didn’t talk to me for about three weeks after he found out. When I got married I took a last name again, and my divorce I reinstated my maiden name.  My father had forgiven me long before but I do know he was happy when his surname made its way back onto all of my ID cards and legal paperwoSo, what have I learned since changing my name? Was it really necessary? Does one’s name define them or affect the trajectory of their life? Would I do it again and would I choose Naiʻa once more?

From my lived experience, one’s name has a huge impact on identity. Not in a conscious way necessarily but our names are like characters and we present ourselves accordingly. Many times people are named after family members or other important people for very specific reasons; this act of honoring definitely has and effect on how we see ourselves and evaluate our actions. Conversely, many peoples names come from processes of sorting through entire list of names… From books telling you the most popular names. I can’t say the effect of this kind of naming process but when I think About how children were named in Hawaii it seems a bit detached or may be overly intellectual? 

My grandmother used to talk to me about how children would be named because of the kind of energy or personality that they had or based on What they were destined for. As well, Children would often be given one name at birth and then another as they matured. The idea, as she explained it to me, was that there were certain names one needed to grow into. Some name is Mike Carey so much responsibility that it would be inappropriate to give it to a newborn child.

Ultimately, my name change has made me see the power of intent. The choice to change my name has forever altered the course of my life and how I present myself. It is also made me understand the commitment it takes to make a change that many people around you don’t understand. I have also learned the power of the human psyche to hold multiple truths at one time. It still amazes me that if I hear someone say my birth name in a voice that I recognize from my early years, I will actually turn an answer. Seamlessly. 

So on this morning as I sit writing this journal entry, listening to the birds sing their song, I sing my name. I called to my ancestors and tell them I am here. I make known through vibration invoice that I have a purpose and I accept the responsibility to fulfill it.

Naiʻa Lewis