The Hunt for a “Label-Less” Life

Dear Reader:

I have a “hang-up” with labels to the point that I dream sometimes about a world in which we simply are our name….no descriptive physical adjective label or occupational label added… no religious or geographical label identified, or age or health-related label.

Yesterday when I broke down and went to the grocery store…one of my least favorite chores…I saw the generic tissue box first and then was happily surprised at the glass cleaner bottle….how perfect…no brand or label…it just told me what it was…period. So refreshing!

It is the health-related label that first got me thinking about labels in general…my deepest fear when I was diagnosed with breast cancer (wasn’t the time limitation on my life…thank goodness that didn’t play out as originally predicted) but it was the thought that I would become that ‘lady with cancer’….The whispered…”Oh you know Becky don’t you…the one with breast cancer?”

I wonder sometimes if in the Garden of Eden before temptation and sin entered the world if Adam and Eve experienced a “utopia”  like no one who followed has ever been able to experience…no preconceived idea about them from God who talked to them in the garden…He simply called them by name.

Some of our worse childhood memories deal with ‘labels’ we were given by our peers growing up….the dreaded “nicknames” we tried to flee from at recess or the bus stop. These labels stuck with us forever and even today…probably still hurt in hindsight. And the worst part of it… these labels didn’t come from just one’s peers…but from adults in charge of educating us.

There were labels for advanced students, mediocre ones, and especially for struggling learners like ‘retarded or slow.’ Even today…the labels have changed to supposedly sound less demeaning…but to children labeled ‘academically challenged or ‘learning disabled’ the label still causes emotional hurt and stress.

As I go through life these days (on a daily basis) I find myself looking for ways to acknowledge people in service jobs with a comment about the weather or something funny we both witnessed or a compliment about someone’s name…just anything to make a connection on a basic human communication level…with no labels added. We are simply two humans.

Even before the famous Apollo 11 mission…earlier missions like Apollo 8 had experienced something that philosophers had long predicted would be a revelation to man unlike any other. What was it? Seeing earth floating in space for the first time.

To this day the astronauts who have witnessed this once-in-a lifetime experience admit it has changed their perception of the world and life in general forever. One of the smallest words in the dictionary…AWE…is the only word they all agree upon that comes close to what a human feels looking back at his home planet floating in darkness and light.

One astronaut immediately thought…John Lennon had it right all the time. From his beautiful song Imagine...he described it perfectly. No countries, religions, only space and sky above…no possessions…nothing to fight and die for…

Each astronaut came away with one thought in common….We are all connected in the universe. No labels…we are all one.

So until tomorrow…Remember labels are for cans…not people…and especially not little people…not our precious children.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*However there is one label I do love to use because it symbolizes life… and that label is:

Happy Birthday to my brother Ben and Vikki…another daughter in the family….wife to Lee and mother to precious Rhodes. I decided  to put some old photos in celebrating Rhode’s arrival and birthday since he is the gift that keeps on giving every day on your birthdays and every other day of the year.

*Vikki….after Ben left Summerville and our birthday lunch and little party…he texted me late that night and said the best part of the day was the time he spent with Rhodes…he was thrilled at Rhodes loving up on him! Quite emotional about it.




About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to The Hunt for a “Label-Less” Life

  1. bcparkison says:

    I would just as soon not know what label is on my head and I really, really don’t like grocery shopping. Just must be a better way and shopping for two ( my parents and myself) is just awful.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I am thankful for abundance of food over terrible conditions in third world nations…where finding food is a daily chore for sheer existence so I know grocery shopping is trivial in comparison…but it is hard shopping for one or a few…just easier to eat out or bring in. 🙂


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