The universe, in its infinite generosity and quirky humor, is endlessly resourceful in helping us grow a peaceful heart by surrendering our attachment to everything. And not only killer drugs like blame and self-hatred, but also picayune stuff––like nicknames.
As a teenager, I wanted a cool nickname but never got one hung on me. Nor, despite weighing a million candidates in the privacy of my imagination, did I conjure one myself and have the courage to say to my friends, “From now on, call me Sting,” or something equally amazing. (At the time, the real Sting was still Gordon Sumner.) All I knew for sure was the one nickname I didn’t want, would never want, not ever, no matter what, so help me.
My abhorrence was mostly the result of running into the name so often growing up, belonging as it did to a barber in our small town. The barber wasn’t the problem; he was a nice fellow. It was just that his name was so darn woodchucky, and here I was, desperate to be Doctor Cool. How can a cat wear blue suede shoes with a name like Bucky? Or so I thought in the age of Elvis.
Fast forward several decades.
After the funeral of my sister’s husband, family young and old were sitting around sharing life. Somehow the story emerged of how my wife acquired her nickname, Dear. From there to how “Dear” had been modified to “Doe” by young grandchildren still working on their pronunciation. At which point, my sister says to me with a twinkle, “Well, if she’s Doe, you must be Buck.”
Not on your life was my first thought, but you could tell by the roomful of grins that I was dead meat. I would be Buck to a goodly number of immediate family, more with every new generation. So it has been for over a decade, and every time I hear the name, I’m happy to say, I hear, too, in the background, the universe tee-hee-ing.
The punchline of this story occurred in the past year, which has been among the most challenging of my life (so far). I have been lovingly encouraged, as only a gun to the head can, to give up my attachment to every way I think of myself and thus every way I think of serving others. Which I am doing with gratitude if not always with grace. And in a moment of tender support, Dear, my beloved, started calling me a nickname that, after an initial cringe, I have found a gift. Most playfully I’m reminded that, with continual surrender, nothing remains a big deal forever.
I’d never told her the barber story, so she had no idea I’d hear the universe tee-hee-ing the first time she exclaimed, upon seeing me, “Bucky!”