We do something no other animal does. We speak and think in words.

It is this ability that gives us such incredible power, for we can imagine something in words, that doesn’t exist in reality.

Words are the magic through which we create the world.

They are also the magic through which we obscure it.

Words are names

They’re the names that we gave to the things around us. Table. Me. Sad. Mountain. Eat. Tree. You. Sun. These things had no name before we learned to speak.

Perhaps the names we gave things were arbitrary. Perhaps the fact that we called water, water and not fart is complete chance. Someone called it a random sound, and it caught on, and now we’re stuck with it.

I suspect not. I suspect there is a subtle connection between the sounds of things and the nature of things. The name water does sound rather like the bubbling of a mountain stream. At least, it sounds more like that than fart.

Regardless, now the names are old. Water is definitely water. Sad is definitely sad. Beauty is definitely beauty. The names are deeply embedded, and when we say them, we call forth the spirit of the thing.

We now know this from science. The mind does not distinguish between the real thing and the imagined thing. To a thirsty person, both real water and imagined water increase their thirst.

The line between the names and the things themselves is not so clear as we might believe.

And so by our speaking a thing’s name, we call it into existence.

Names call forth reality

“I can’t do it.” I say to myself.

I’m going back through my journals, trying to identify the key threads from my life over the last year. I have this inkling that if I can find them, it will help me untangle my present reality. Pages are spread out all over the floor. There are a lot of words to sort through.

“It’s too hard, I can’t do it” I say to myself again.

And as I name this world, it arrives, like a loyal dog to greet me, and give me what I asked for. And lo and beyond, I find that the task is indeed beyond me, that I in fact cannot do it. And the little loop in my mind links up. I said the words, and reality confirmed their truth.

But this is where our magical ability to name the world gets confusing.

Because we can say things that are in fact, not true, and yet the world of those names will spring forth as if they were.

My statement “It’s too hard. I can’t do it” was not an accurate observation of reality. It was a prediction.

I have predicted the future, and determined that no matter what I do, I cannot find what I am looking for in these journals of mine. The task is beyond me.

But by naming it, I have made it true.

True names create intimacy with reality

I take a deep breath. I pause. I try again.

“I’m afraid. I’m afraid I can’t find what I seek.”

My body and mind relax, as if I’ve just said the magic password.

What I just said was true for me. I accurately named the experience that was already happening. And now my whole body has softened, and I feel in tune once more.

It is when the unnamed reality, and the named reality fit with one another, that our experience of the world feels good, and the doors of the moment open, allowing us to witness what comes next.

Now the fear has been named, it goes back to sleep, nestled into me, and I return to the pages on the floor.

And then I don’t know where the time has gone, and I wake up to find a whole map laid out, with timelines, and themes.

Be mindful of what you name

Because what you say will become your reality. It will become true.

If you narrate the script of your own self-delusion, then deluded you will be.

If you name the misery that you think you deserve, then misery you will be given, and you will feel deserving of it.

If you name yourself as the same person you’ve always been, that that person will you remain.

Or, you can attend to the actual feel of the moment, and watch as experience bubbles forth of its own accord. And as you watch, you can simply name what arrives.

Tree. Birds flying. Smile. Loneliness. My heart opens. Ache. The feel of life itself. Ahhhhhhh.

As I name things in this way, I am like Adam, naming what the divine mystery gives me in each and every moment.

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Ewan Townhead

I hope you enjoyed the article. If you're interested further in my work, you can find out more about me here, and my coaching here.

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