Trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep prior to an early rise to catch a plane, the mind wanders. In this case, I resumed the fruitless search for a name.

Last month I had a student encounter with powerful consequences. This was an affectionate and quite sharp young man who identified me as an ally and a fan. His actions and emotions prompted me to write a blog about him but in deference to privacy, I used a fictitious name for him in that blog.

Whether it’s a function of my age or the reality of meeting hundreds of students per month, I could not definitively recall his name. Is he Raleigh or Randolph or Regis? Or is it Owen or Orville or Oscar? Because he was so special, it frustrated me greatly that I wasn’t certain.

But at 11:00 or 12:00, I’m not sure what, I realized that his name was immeasurably less important than his charming presence. My realization was that who he was had been defined by his behavior, not his name. As a lover of nature and brilliant scenery, the names of geological formations, trees, flowers or birds are vastly less significant than their individual or collective contributions to our panoramas.

And this seems to be the case with most of our world. The brand of a dress or suit or pair of shoes is irrelevant compared to comfort, cut and appearance. While we develop preferences for automotive appearance and performance, it is ultimately these attributes we seek in our vehicles rather than a particular brand.

My hope is that I will again find myself in the kindergarten classroom populated by my little friend. If I don’t find him this school year, it may be the next one or the one after that. But that reunion will be the recovery of a happy intersection of two compatible souls. While I eagerly anticipate finding his face, it will be to deliver a hug rather than fill in the blank for his name. Shalom.

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