I’ve had half a dozen names. Most of them were not of my choosing. When I was about to get married one of my best friends asked me what I was going to do about my name. So I told her my choice and she asked about other possibilities. Then she got out her paper, pencil, and calculator.
“We have to do the numerology so you get a good one.”
And with that, she figured out all my old names so we could see which numbers were best. My numbers, apparently, trended toward multiples of 10, and I’d had quite a selection. The new name I had in mind would have been a 4, but she dismissed that immediately and began coming up with alternatives then trying to sell me on their charms.
If I chose alternative a, which would endow me with a fortuitous 7, then I would be attractive, fun-loving, and popular at parties. Alternative b, which gave me a number 8, would make me stable, wealthy, and luxurious. If we changed the spelling, I could have a lovely number 3, which would help me enamor the fates who would then support me in achieving my dreams.
What about the one I chose I asked.
You don’t want that one. Look, if you pick the 7 then things will go well for you, you will make lots of friends, and they will ensure that you are always well provided for. If you pick the 8 then you will have a great job and not only can you provide well for yourself, you’ll also be able to provide for other people. You just need to have a little better boundaries. And the 3 would let you travel the world, because you’d have the full protection of the elements and spirits.
And the 4, I asked.
Well, she said, if you pick the 4 then you will lose everything, your whole world will come apart and you’ll have to start over.
That’s the right one, I said.
No, she replied, that’s a bad one.
There’s not a good or bad, there’s only a right or wrong. I get that if I pick the 7 I’ll be vivacious and compelling. But I’m not. It’s not who I am. It feels dead in my body. When I think about the 4 it feels right, alive, like that is where I’m supposed to go. And it’s the name I already chose.
She could not believe that I wanted true and not pleasant.
But you could have a better life! You could be popular and have everything you want.
We stared at each other. Until she remembered that I’m a capricorn.
OK, she finally said, let me see what I can do.
Then she played with her pencil and paper extensively. Eventually she looked up.
Well, she said, if you pick that name you will lose everything. But you will be ok. Just don’t let it make you bitter. But I think you should pick a different one. You have a choice. You could be popular, or rich, or graced.
That’s the right one, I said, and I took that name.
And years later when I looked out the back window of my silicon valley victorian at my beautiful rose garden, I thought ‘one day I will lose you. But until then, I will love you.’ And each time I closed the door to my bright yellow ragtop 1961 vw bug with the license plate ‘vw lemon’ I thought ‘one day I will lose you, but until then I will love you.’ And when my friends all came down for my annual gingerbread house party I would look around the room and think ‘one day I will lose this, but until then I will love it.’
And when I my marriage deteriorated, I thought ’this won’t make me bitter’, when a client took me for 15K out of pocket I thought ’this won’t make me bitter.’ And when I moved away from my awesome house and my fabulous friends, I thought ‘this won’t make me bitter. Because I have loved it.’
Recently it has occurred to me that this warning, meant to frighten me, to make me turn back, has been one of the best things anyone ever said to me, because it’s true: it’s always true. We all lose everything. No matter what our names are.
So now I say it to you.
You will lose everything. It might happen when you’re old or it might happen when you’re young. It might happen slowly over time, a gradual eroding of all you’ve accumulated, or it might happen all in one swoop on your deathbed, but it will happen. You will lose everything.
But don’t worry. Everything will be ok, just don’t let it make you bitter.
When you hold something beautiful in your eye, or your hand, or your heart love it for all you’re worth so that when you inevitably lose it you do so with gratitude and not regret.
Because at the end of the day, no matter what our numerology, we all leave on zero.