As I write this, the first snow of the season is falling as a gentle swirl of fluffy white crystals. This brings to mind images of dancing dakinis, the element of water doing pirouettes while descending and gracing the earth with a fresh blanket of winter. The Inuit people in Canada’s Nunavik region have 53 names for snow. I wonder what they would call this event. Maybe, ‘the joyous dancing snow that melts soon.’ I think that will be my name for it.
When we name things from the point of view of our indigenous selves, the descriptions are very flexible. One name will never do justice to a moment because moments are always changing. Just like nature shifts and morphs into infinite shapes and patterns, our natural mind adapts and swirls with change, delighting in the unexpected variables of life. Everything becomes ‘first flakes’—like a child’s first experience with snow.
I often wonder about the habit of mind that decides on a single name for anything. This is actually quite annoying. It creates a lot of misunderstanding and divisiveness. We actually argue about the way we name a thing as if our perspective is the only one. As a lover of wildflowers I am constantly amazed to see the common name of a species vary by locale. And now, with DNA analysis, the scientific names are changing as botanists delve deeper into the structure and characteristics of plants. The names were changed to protect the innocent?
So, next time you notice a bit of inflexibility in how you name things, change it up a bit. I often notice my nerdy mind thinking it ‘knows’ something. But the snow of this storm melted and another storm came. This one was ‘wet snow in the morning that can be shoveled.’ No, wait, there is another weather system coming, and another, and another, and another…