What's in a name?

Greetings, fellow travellers. Thanks for joining me on this sunny day as we ponder the vast potential in each passing moment, or actually do something about it. I hope this is the first in a regularly occurring exercise that will allow me to formally observe my antics and share the same with anyone interested in what I might be up to. Several of you have indicated a desire to ride along and I am not one to intentionally disappoint anyone, so off we go. With that in mind, I promise to keep things as interesting as possible, up to the point of any obviously self-destructive behavior or blatant cheap thrills (or rest assured you certainly wont have to hear of any such nonsense, anyhow - unless it is vital to the story as a consequence) .

I guess it all starts with a naming of a thing, doesn't it. If we are going to keep insisting that we are all these separate parts of what then eventually constitutes all, then we have to get out the label-making apparatus and start tossing out points of delineation. It is amazing how far we can take this game, this distillation of our reality into bits and pieces all with a convenient label to mark each break and calling it something different. "Continent". "Assembly". "Quark". "Zoner". Works for me, I guess. All though in all honesty, once I get past "I am", it gets a little iffy sometimes, know what I mean?

My first use of Zoner and the short "Z" was borne of necessity, due to my discomfort scratching "Chris Neet" on the bottom of my 4th grade pottery projects. My mom had just married this guy with a goofy last name and I was getting pressured to use it in school. He was brand new on our scene, and a big hairy brute who talked funny (he was from Oklahoma, and a true "good 'ol boy" I guess). And it was not going too well. This was also about the same time he was trying to "toughen me up" for football season (something I had zero interest in doing) by having me line up and rush him from 3 yards away, always resulting in his driving me into the ground with a hearty shove from his position standing upright. No harsh words or ridicule, just a dirt sandwich each time (I knew exactly how Charlie Brown felt with Lucy and the placekick that never occurred - where is the RELEASE?). I was getting tougher, apparently. But I wasn't going to let him re-name me.

I asked the art teacher if it really mattered what it said on the underside of my work, and she said no, as long as it was easily recognized as mine. Well, a quick "Z" was about as simple as it could be so I adopted it on the spot. O.K., actually my very first alter-ego was "OTTO", but it was for only a day or so. I thought it was cool that it was spelled the same backwards, but it was more fun to lay down a "Z" as opposed to a "O", and it could also be construed as "Zero" (which I also briefly considered) or be pronounced "Oddo" much to my brother's delight. Ahh, the life-altering choices of a 10 year old!

It was around this time that I became aware of something that also required a name. My 4th grade days, as many before and since, being relatively unencumbered by outside interference or interaction, became long stretches of silence and reflection, and general farting around doing whatever I pleased. As a classic example of a "free spirit", as my mom used to call me(and my younger brother), I was well fed, provided with adequate clothing and shelter, and was generally well tended emotionally and kept from any abuse. I knew I was loved and valued within our little "unit". I was also trusted to go and do pretty much whatever I wanted, with certain time constraints and with the understanding that no one got hurt too badly. The only component lacking was parental supervision and instruction. You know, life skills like keeping your space clean and flossing the teeth - otherwise we managed fine and there was endless time for exploring both the natural world and the world of imagination and creativity.

The summer that I was 11, there was a huge interstate project going on just a 1/2 mile from our place. Huge hillsides were being excavated, and it was all very near the current Mississippi riverbed The tons of material they pulled out of the hillsides was ancient seabed and each handfull overturned would reveal some form of fossilized sea life or remnants of later civilization. Many, many wagons went home filled to overflowing with this treasure, and it was my first experience finding something "of value" and immediately trying to accumulate and hoard as much as possible. I actually sold some stuff to the local science museum and donated more. This kicked open the door to discover the natural world and how it all worked. It still keeps my attention to this very moment.

The majority of my time was spent either reading books, engaging in outdoor play, or building plastic models by myself. There was also much time spent simply daydreaming, and this became what was known as "being in the zone" or "zoning out". Interstate travel and lots of camping trips into the Northern Minnesota wilderness kept me keenly aware of the power of natural surroundings and what they offered to a curious kid who enjoyed solitude and quiet reflection. These were wonderful, effortless times spent lost lightly in the world.

At some point along this path it was indicated to me that the "me" doing the playing, the reading and the "zoning" was not where it stopped. It was obvious to me that within what I was experiencing, there was also an "observer". I was not, in fact, alone here! This was akin to someone looking over my shoulder, but never rendering judgement or attempting to influence my decision-making process. Someone else was using me as an observational "tool", and I was just along for the ride and in charge of "experiencing" the experiences. I was, in effect, off the hook! But constantly under surveillance. Hmm.

It was quite a trip to consider that my actions were under observation, and it wouldn't surprise anyone to know that as I encountered more and more complex situations and interactions, there became a strong awareness of a reactionary component to this "observer" that could provide faultless (and much needed) guidance if allowed to operate correctly and be heard. As intuition became more known to me and my youthful imagination had time to carry me off with the implications of having it all figured out and finally getting the guidance I needed, it was time to give my guide a name, and the "Z"came to the fore again, quickly mated to the "zoning out" that my mother and teachers were so fond of accusing me of (daydream? meditation? Those sound kinder, but don't make for cool nicknames I guess), and thus creating the "Zoner"moniker for the portion of me that truly "knows", and is hopefully fully in charge of guiding this trip I'm still on - because I'm certainly not gonna attempt to drive!

So, a name has been long selected as the chronicler and true guide and reporter for this journey. I am honored to be here at this place in this time, and am further honored if any of you might stop in and take notice of our story as it unfolds. I truly believe that it is a shared story, and that beyond the attempts to use names to "break it down" it all comes back to the original "I am" and moves out from there.

And we're still moving. I'll report here along the path, and look forward to seeing you along the way, and I'll tell you all about everything when we get back. If you know what I mean.


"This is the relationship I seek to strengthen as we move ahead. There have been enough trials and tests, the simulations have been run, it is time to place the bets and roll for the big prizes, baby."



  1. guides come. those who find the one within end up the lucky ones. you started early. recognizing something sacred. even to the extent of giving it a name. but as for the rest of us, 10 to 1, on the way to within we listened to guides that came from without. call us hard-headed i guess. or is it hard-hearted?

    odd-o-ly enough, my chozen 'guide' behind the swingin doors used the zero alter. an odd sorta duck to say the least. most had no concept of the personal wisdom demonstrated in making the choice. even in the brotherhood of the empty chalice he was laughed at for it.

    i'll never forget the day. it was a morning meeting. i was about 3 months into my search to quit hurtin. i don't remember what i said but i'll never forget what he said. he said... 'this diesease, like all deseases of the soul, arises from the inability of one person to allow another person to love us. to let the walls down and let another human being in.'

    damn!! and he was looking straight at me when he said it. reading my mail. thing about it is, even still reeking and dragging a bag of rocks overflowing, i knew exactly what he was talking about. the missing ingredient in the love receipe. ...p


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