Many of you may be surprised or perplexed to see me writing under the surname Levinson. If you’ve known me for any number of years, you will remember me by a different last name. So why the change?
No, I have not gotten married. Not in the sense of taking the last name of another person.
The name change represents a marriage of a different sorts—a reunion with the self, or a homecoming to a place of my own building. In the wake of complex trauma, my past often feels fragmented and incoherent. My own name has often born this sense of fragmentation as I struggle to understand who, or what, I am.
I chose the name Levinson for many reasons. To understand some of it, I recommend you read the book My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok. This text changed the way I consciously create art and craft my writing. It invited me to congruence with my story rather than covering or hiding parts of my story that felt frightening or shameful. As I played around with words and names, I chose the name of the title character from which to derive my own new name, the name that would represent my creative work, the name that will be read at my graduation, and someday my funeral.
The name Levinson also comes with further linguistic complexity. The root “Lev” pertains to the Jewish priestly lineage of the Levites. It also means “heart” or “lion” in Russian Hebrew. I can think of no nobler lineage than that of priestly calling and deep connection to one’s heart, and the fierceness of a lion.
If you have any questions or want to talk further, reach out via my Contact page. I’d love to hear your thoughts; and stories about your own naming and how you come to find yourself at home in the language and icons that define you.