Okay, English majors of the world: For $100, what’s the literary allusion here? The opening line of Melville’s Moby Dick? That’s right! Send that contestant one hundred crisp new greenbacks! Melville’s classic begins with the narrator advising the reader to call him Ishmael. So, what’s that got to do with the spot price of coffee in Brazil or anything else? Nothing and everything. Read on.
I’m a person of many names. I was born Stephen Michael. Stephen it was when my mother was upset with me. Otherwise it was Stevie when I was little and Steve as I grew up. In 1965, at my request, my Spiritual Guide, the Javanese Muhammad Subuh, renamed me Reynold. A correct name, he taught us, was one in line with our true inner nature. Whenever someone calls us that, it was really a prayer for us to grow into our biggest and best selves. I dropped the Stephen Michael and legally became Reynold Feldman in 1968, and so I have been ever since. Well, almost. In 2009, still in mourning for my wife of 43 years who had died in 2006, I received a new name for myself: Ruslan, which around my 70th birthday was confirmed as correct for me by Muhammad Subuh’s daughter, now acting on behalf of her father who had passed away. Ever since I have called myself Reynold Ruslan Feldman. For my then girlfriend, now my wife, however, Reynold was too formal and Ruslan too weird, so for her I became and am among most Boulderites just plain Ren. Since that’s roughly the Mandarin for human being and benevolence, I was okay with the addition. Now, ten years later, I have been given yet another name: Bear Hawk. Here’s how.
My wife and I were at a Solstice retreat in the mountains above Lyons, Colorado. On a solo nature walk, I decided to lie down on a flattish boulder. Looking up, I noticed a hawk circling about a half mile off. I said to myself but directed to the bird, “Wow! You’re so beautiful. I love you. I wish you’d fly over me and say hi.” No sooner had that inner speech finished when the hawk left its lazy circle and headed right for me. As it flew over, the thought came to me, apparently from the bird, “Because you love me, I’m giving you a new name: Bear Hawk. ‘Bear’ because you belong to that clan; ‘Hawk’ because you are, from now on, an honorary member of my people.” Then it flew off and disappeared from sight. May I be as strong as a bear and soar without flapping my wings like a hawk. Amen. Stephen Michael Stevie Steve Reynold Ruslan Ren Bear Hawk Feldman.