This morning I sat in a lecture where the speaker was teaching on the art of studying and going beyond the surface to understand literature more deeply. Early on in the lecture he made the statement: “Words have no meaning without a context.” He followed up with the question, “Have you ever looked up the definition of a word in the dictionary? It could mean about 72 different variations, and they all depend on the context in which the word is used.”

And I realized names are no different. Each names is a word we choose to represent the story of someone’s life and who they are.

For months now I have been working on rebranding my business, which has been a fun and trying experience. I spent a lot of time asking myself what I wanted to make this all about, and I sat for long periods of time reflecting on where it all started. I knew I couldn’t keep my old name, because it wasn’t serving the purpose I had intended for it. Plus, no one knew how to pronounce it, which created a lot of confusion over whether I spoke English or Greek. (Whoops!) 

Over time, I narrowed down a short list of potential business names, and before long I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be Clay and Bolder Photography. 

Clay is moldable, teachable, shapeable, and it creates functional beauty. With clay we make bowls, plates, cups, and art that sits in famous museums. With our hands we can make just about anything out of clay, and it yields easily. Clay bends with the slightest pressure (when given enough water), and it fits easily into any shape it is pressed against. But clay isn’t weak; its flexibility is merely another component of its strength. It never becomes that which it molds to, but it flows in patterns as needed. It is simple; the elegance of clay is either in the paint we put on it or the items we allow to hold. 

Boldness is taking risks and being courageous; it is about making a statement. To be bold demands bravery and confidence and not allowing fear to silence. When I think about a bold person, they speak the truth in the face of fear; a bold person says what is hard to say and does what is hard to do. Bold art speaks volumes; it is full of stories to share. Bolder is who I want to be.

At first glance, the flexibility of clay seems to contradict the consistency of boldness. The two put together—clay and bolder—is a paradox:

to grow up you have to put down roots;

to get a friend you have to be a friend;

to have something worth saying you have to first listen;

a gold ring has to be melted in order to be made;

and a boldly-shaped jar is formed from soft, malleable clay.

I want to lead a life that's increasingly bold, and I'm doing that by becoming more like clay.