Credentials

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Credentials: (n) evidence of authority, status, rights, entitlement to privileges, or the like, usually in written form

 I suppose if you removed my driver’s license from my wallet, I would possess no credentials whatsoever. My state has authorized that I am entitled to drive a vehicle.

I have never received credentials from a music school, though I have persisted in making music.

I have no credentials whatsoever to write books, blogs and screenplays—yet again, I pursue.

I certainly had no credentials to be a dad, but the kids kept showing up.

I had no credentials as a lover, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

I am not licensed or approved to be a philosopher, a teacher, an instructor or a motivator—but these things have come up and in the absence of real talent, I have stepped in, acting as the best substitute I could.

I suppose I should have given more thought to gaining credentials. They do look good when writing a bio. Getting places or people of note to qualify you is much better than jotting down, “Have no fear. I am here.”

And I am certainly not one of those who feels self-righteous about lacking credentials, as if I were showing some sort of superiority by sheer grit and force.

It’s just that everything in my life started about one year earlier than it probably should have.

When I possibly could have gone to college, I was having my first son. And since I had that little family, when I might have wanted to garner some sort of degree or certificate, I was trying to put pizza and animal crackers on the table.

What I had to learn was that the absence of credentials demanded an honest presentation of oneself rather than lying or becoming defensive or saying something stupid like, “I have graduated from the school of hard knocks.”

I think it is absolutely delightful, if not essential, for people to gain credentials. I certainly do like to know that my plumber has plumbed before, and somebody knows that he’s not “plumb crazy.”

But in the absence of credentials, I will humbly offer myself, candidly share my value and do the best goddamn job I possibly can.

 

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Conjecture

Conjecture: (n) an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information

The young man disagreed with me.

I gave a college concert years ago, opening it up to a Q & A with the audience afterwards. One of the male students asked me, “Since you’re afunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
Christian, when did ‘turn the other cheek’ actually ever work?”

I think he expected some sort of conjecture on my part–about the value of pursuing lost causes, even though it might not seem that they possessed immediate merit.

Maybe he just wanted to justify his passion for revenge–or his girlfriend, sitting next to him, might be greatly impressed by him challenging the guest artist.

Wanting to make sure the audience understood his question, I asked him to repeat it. He rolled his eyes to communicate that I was apparently old and deaf, and posed the question again.

“What I asked you,” he said, “was, when did ‘turn the other cheek’ ever work in history?”

“I see,” I responded. “So let me ask you a question. When did gouging out eyes, pulling teeth and counterpunching ever exactly work in history?”

He stood tall and patriotic and replied, “Well, at least we went to war and beat the shit out of them.”

A small piddling of applause.

“Well,” I objected, “apparently we left some shit in them–because they’re back again. You see, my friend, turning the other cheek is not an attempt to bring flowers to a gun fight, but rather, to buy some time to see what can be done to change the fight from guns to conversation. And that, historically, has proven, over and over again, to be effective.”

Feeling the need to be justified, he spat, “Well, that’s just your opinion.”

“That it is,” I replied. “Actually, it’s my conjecture–a conviction I hold because pursuing anything else leaves blood all over my hands.”


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Condo

Condo: (n) short for condominium, a multiple-unit complex

Over the years, I have lied to keep up with the Joneses, who, by the way, ended up being massive liars.

When I realized that people expected me to have a higher education, I attempted to make up a college career.

When it occurred to me that the number of songs I had written seemed small, I inflated the tally.

In my youthfulness, I promoted myself as a tree-top lover, when within a few moments, the true status of my report became obvious.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Many times in my life I have shared, insisted and informed people that I lived in a condo. Why? Because it sounds affluent.

On those occasions, what I was actually living in was one of the following: an efficiency, a duplex, a flat, an apartment or the back end of my van.

But no one was impressed with these locations. I was young. I felt the need to blow minds.

Before I started really touring, I made up a schedule which made me seem to be a combination of Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

I always worked on the simple premise that people are too lazy to actually check out your stats–but time and time again I was proven wrong. There are many individuals who live to disprove other people’s false reports–especially when you insist you have a condo, forgetting that you have invited this person over to dinner next Tuesday.

 

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College

College: (n) an educational institution or establishment

 

I never went to college.

I have used numerous excuses and lies to disguise this fact:

  1. “Well, the experience I’ve had is very similar to going to college.”
  2. “I took a few courses but never enough for graduation. Maybe I should check into that.”

Or the outright lie:

  1. “I am a graduate of Xavier University.”

(My thought? Most people would not know how to spell Xavier and would not pursue further.)

All through my twenties I felt like a dog without a collar. You know–a mutt rolling around the town, and everybody knows he doesn’t have a purpose or an owner
because he has no tags.

Yes, without college I felt a sense of self-discrimination. I was so convinced that people were looking down on me that I looked down on myself.

Then one day I simply asked my inner soul, do you wish you had gone to college?

I immediately realized that everything I had experienced would be gone in deference to the collegiate adventure.

That would include a wife, two kids, a music group, albums and writing a book. The case could be made that I would have eventually done these anyway–just with more book learning.

But one day–I guess I was about thirty-three years old–someone asked the question about college and I responded, “I never went.”

I really felt that the Earth moved beneath my feet–that the sky was falling in to trap me. But nothing actually happened. The person who inquired was a little surprised, since she felt I was very adept at what I was doing. But we were quickly on to talking about whether potato salad was better with mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

You see, you don’t have to go to college for those kinds of discussions. Just have a heart, an idea you believe in and a willingness to be wrong.

I have found this to be the definition of higher education.

 

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Clergyman

Clergyman: (n) a male priest, minister, or religious leader, especially a Christian one

All the mistakes I’ve made in my life were caused by me thinking that what I had to offer was not enough.

Whenever I calmed down and realized that the stash in my duffel bag was the total subsistence of my life and journey, I was fine.

But when I allowed myself to be intimidated by forces around me which deemed my offering to be meager because it lacked some
certification, I always ended up either a fool or a liar.

I wanted to help people.

I wanted to use my art to do so.

I wanted to share a message that had humor, hope and heft.

But I also once was very young, and contended that I needed some title to punctuate my adequacy.

Since I did not go to college, I wasn’t allowed to be called “a Reverend.” Therefore I could not be a clergyman.

I don’t know why I wanted to pursue such a position–I guess I just wanted folks to be impressed when they heard the full extent of my resume spoken in a word: “minister.”

So I lied. I manufactured higher learning. And eventually I just called myself a “Reverend” even though I didn’t have any pedigree to bark out spirituality.

It took me many years to escape the foolishness of my insecurity. As soon as I did, I realized that being a clergyman was actually to my disadvantage, because my music, writing, dramatic pursuits and screenplays were much more effective tools for reaching my brothers and sisters than climbing into a pulpit and emoting.

I often think, what is it I’m doing today that’s equally as stupid as my pursuit of being a false cleric?

I don’t know. But I keep looking.

Because if I catch it early, maybe I can avoid some of the embarrassment that occurs when people finally find out the truth.

And…

They always do.

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Classroom

Classroom: (n) a room, typically in a school

I wish they would have told us the truth.

I suppose they were afraid if we knew the truth, we might get discouraged. Maybe we’d give up.

For some reason, our teachers and school administrators thought it was best to dangle the possibility of growing up to be adults someday
instead of letting us know that “who we are now” is pretty much who we would end up being.

We might have spent more time trying to do better instead of sitting in the back of the classroom hiding, hoping no one would call on us, refusing to emerge from our turtle shell to become lions and tigers, yet knowing that such a position would be impossible unless there were evolutionary stages in between.

Yes, somewhere along the line, in that classroom, we needed to transition from single-cell organisms into a more complex species.

They didn’t tell us.

Maybe they were hoping that high school, church, tests, our first sexual encounters or even college would stir us to new awakenings.

But since we carried the same personality and fears into each opportunity, we came out almost every time with identical conclusions.

So the fourteen-year-old kid who’s insecure becomes the eighty-four-year-old woman who still wonders if she’s pretty.

It is a bucket of shit.

I know that sounds gross, but it is the only description I can give for thinking that you can “leave well enough alone,” and well enough will give you anything…but being alone.

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Botany

Botany: (n) the scientific study of plants

“Old Lady Martinson.”Dictionary B

That’s what we called her because we were young, cruel and indifferent to the feelings of anyone who wouldn’t giggle at our silly jokes.

I knew her because she occasionally hired young boys to do chores, offering a quarter for what we deemed was worth a dollar.

She had lots of cats. You didn’t need to see the cats to know this. It just required you being “nosy.”

The smell was horrible.

She was also rather odd (which, as I look back at it, I am not so sure is true, considering that when you’re in your early teens, “odd” is anything that doesn’t fit into your two-square-inch box of understanding).

But I do have one solid memory–she loved to lecture about botany.

She told me she used to teach it in college. To prove her point, she constantly talked to the plant life in her large, unkempt, stale-smelling house.

One day she took me on a tour of her various vines, plants and ferns. As she pointed out each one, she offered a greeting, uttered a name and mustered a bit of encouragement.

She spoke to them.

I was spooked–I thought she was going to have a spasm or attack me with a butcher knife like I had seen in one old movie.

She didn’t.

But it was when she introduced me to her African violets and began to sing to them in mumbo-jumbo that I realized it was time to go.

I think plants are wonderful.

I think we should study them.

I think they are essential to life on Planet Earth.

But I also think we should not “chat them up.”

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