What’s up with my name?Posted: April 20, 2011
There seem to be many ways to pronounce it. I use Ny-eema. Many people have told me their interpretation of the name: “blessed”, “delight”, “peaceful”, “graceful”, “that fresh feeling when you get out of the shower”. But my favorite is “spiritual friend”.
Despite my name having a sort of “hippie” sounding ring, I did not chose this name toward the end of a long and hallucinogenic Rainbow Gathering. Don’t get me wrong…I’ve been to Rainbow Gatherings, but I left there with the same name I went in with.
No, the name came to me from my mother. Here’s the full story.
Sometime between 1961 and 1965 (details from this period of my Mother’s life are vague – very, very, vague) my mother heard John Coltrane, one of the greats of the Jazz world, play the song “Naima” at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco. During this phase of my mother’s life she lived in the center of eight burned out redwood trees, somewhere near Big Sur, California. She would hitchhike into San Francisco, wait tables, go to jazz shows, or other gatherings, then hitchhike back down Highway 1 – back to the trees. She bathed in a small whirlpool in the forest, not far from the eight redwoods. When she heard Coltrane play “Naima”, she fell in love with the song. Specifically, at the end of the song there is a crescendo, a climbing scale culminating in a beautiful note. This “whirling” in the song transported her back to that whirlpool she frequented in the forest, and she vowed to name her first-born daughter after that song. Enter, Me!
Naima, the song, performed live in 1965, by John Coltrane.
Trivia: the song was named after Coltrane’s first wife, Juanita Naima Grubbs.