– So asks a character in a world-famous play R. & J. by a world-famous late 16th- to early 17th-century English playwright W.S. “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet,” she goes on to say.
But is this true? Is a name just a word by which we refer to a certain thing? Will a rose still smell sweet even if it is called, oh say, “gross” or “morose”? (sorry it doesn’t quite rhyme, I’m no poet you know!) I struggle to find my answer.
I was given a name which means “that which lights and warms all living things to start moving when spring comes.” A beautiful name, with lots of love and high hopes for me, no doubt. But a bit weighty and constrictive at the same time. Sometimes I feel like I am defined by my name to be bright and affectionate and touching, regardless of my true nature.
So, as much as I enjoy having this blissful name and wish to live up to it, I am intimidated by it and afraid of what will happen if I fail to satisfy its premises. Will I still be loved even if I have times when I am gloomy and uncaring and distant? Will I still be me even if I do not possess the qualities by which I am referred to?
Maybe a rose will continue to smell just as sweet even if it were called by some other name, because it was born and raised so.
Maybe a rose will continue to smell just as sweet even if it were called by some other name, because it wants to please and be loved.
Maybe a rose will continue to smell just as sweet even if it were called by some other name, because it does not know any other way to be.
Or maybe, a rose will be a rose no matter what we call it, even if it stops smelling so sweet and lose all other traits that make it known to us to be a rose… because it believes itself to be a rose, whatever that may be.
And maybe, we will love a rose for simply being itself, not because we call it so or are pleasantly entertained by its smell.
Oh how scary it is to actually explore the possibility of the second last “maybe.” But oh how wonderful it would be if the last “maybe” were true.
… By the way, just in case anyone is wondering, no, I am not named Rose!