This name was bestowed on me today by Roshi Joan in jukai, and it is absolutely my name. It fits just right.
‘Carmen’ is a name for spanish dancers and vamps, porn stars, video-game characters and drag queens. I’ve been wearing that handle my whole life, and it has always felt like the wrong size shoe. Too much drama. So not me. It creaks on my lips and sits badly on the page. Carmen Mills has crappy meter; it sounds like a saltshaker rolling off a table. But Roshin Carmen Mills, now that, has a nice, loping rhythm. Soft, but not girly. Unusual but not flaky, nor conspicuously Japanese.
Typographically, the word ‘Carmen’ is like a caterpillar bumping down a sidewalk. It is boring to typeset and no fun to write. But Roshin – well! ‘R’ has always been my favourite capital. I once did a whole comparative study of the letter R in typography class. R is a sexy letter. It has wild asymetry, and straight lines and curves and a counter. And I get a letter ‘H’–oh finally, an ascender! A loop! A giraffe! A tower! There’s even an ‘i’, with a dot! Oh stop me, I’m getting overheated.
So then: Dew Drop Mind. Roshi Joan warns that the dharma name is not to be flashed like a badge, but held close as an aspiration and a challenge. I could imagine that my mind is always clear and bright as a dew drop on a spiderweb, but I know that it can be cloudy and dim. I can easily dull my crystal mind with doubts and distractions. When my mind is bright and selfless, it reflects all the brilliance around it. When my mind is clear it can hold the entirety of the moon. I vow to perceive reality clearly.
And then, there’s this bonus: yesterday someone shouted to me, “Dew Drop who?” and I had the great satisfaction of replying: “dew drop in, any old time!” Buh-dum-bum.
I am Roshin Carmen Mills: Dew Drop Mind.