Sagan’s Name by William Jones

For a long time, while pregnant with our son, we had no idea what to name him. We talked about family names and browsed through multiple baby name books for ideas, but we couldn’t find a name that made us happy. At times the baby name books seemed to just confound us more, and we’d find ourselves saying things like, “Who would ever name their kid ‘Bacon’?”

One day, after dinner, we took a walk. After talking about our day, my wife said to me, “So, have you thought of a baby name?”, and I could tell from her tone that she was expecting me to just say, “No.”, and follow it with something like, “…but not ‘Bacon’!”. However, I actually had thought a little about it, and I said, “Well, it may seem strange to use a last name as a first name, but I think I like the name Sagan, after Carl Sagan.”

My wife looked thoughtful, but seemed to quickly adjust to the new idea. She knew that I became interested in astronomy as a boy, and that Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” series especially filled my mind with wonder, and that he and his show were a source of inspiration for me through adulthood. She then said, “If we name him Sagan, can his middle name be Muir?”, and we stopped walking for a moment.

I knew how inspired my wife was by John Muir’s advocacy for preserving American wilderness, but I was dumbfounded for a moment at how easily and quickly we had suddenly come up with two names that we liked, and I said, “That sounds great!” We were both clearly excited about the idea, and we tried to give the idea some time and see how we felt later as it was an unusual name, but we only became happier about it.

We actively work to get Sagan interested in a variety of things, and he genuinely likes reading, and trains, and bouncing on balls or trampolines, but there’s nothing that excites him like outer space, which still feels curiously appropriate considering he was named after an astronomer.  It will be interesting to see what other things he becomes interested in, but his first word was “moon”, and we’ve been talking about moons
ever since.