I know guys who do what I do for their daily bread. Their job titles are “lead dreamer” and another has chosen, “cultural architect”. I understand the desire to avoid the ancient words in favour of something fresh. The ancient words have weight but they also have baggage and none of us needs more than we already carry. The ancient words have been used almost to the point of being used up. Personally I’m not big on titles anyway. And generally I distrust anyone who feels the need to use them.
About 20 years ago I was just graduating from a school that asked us to call our teachers, “Brother.” The school was part of a movement that took as it’s motto: where the Bible speaks, we speak, where the Bible is silent, we are silent. We had a rule that you couldn’t have any facial hair. We also had a rule that you couldn’t have a t.v. in your dorm room. The elusive Donna once worked for the campus bookstore before a week of students came to campus for a week long music camp. Her job was to go around and mark up all the t-shirts and then mark them down to their original price to appear as though they were on sale.
At my graduation from the school, because I’d finished in December and marched in gown with my class in May, I’d had time to grow a beard. I showed up for the grad ceremony, put my cap and gown on down in the basement with my classmates and when I looked up from looking down to see if my gown was hanging right I saw a classmate look at me with his mouth hanging open and point, from about 3 feet away and then go running out of the room. It was like that scene in the old “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” where one of the pod people recognizes that a person in the crowd was only faking at being a pod person and stands there with their arm and finger extended and shrieking. A few minutes later my classmate drags in the Academic Dean and says, “See!” and points to my illegal facial hair.
I’d like to say that I was ‘sticking it to the man’ but the truth was my wife thinks I look better with a beard so I have a beard.
Our Academic Dean looked me over, concentrating on my beard and just when I thought he was about to produce shaving cream and a razor he turned to my sweet fellow graduate pod person and said, “Nice beard.” and walked out. The pod grad followed him out, gesticulating wildly and sputtering as he protested my infraction. For that and many other reasons I’ll tell you about later I’m often very shy about telling anyone what it is I do to make a living. I’m afraid the stuff that’s become associated with the family I’m a part of creates a filter through which it becomes increasingly more difficult to be heard. Some days you get the Academic Dean and some days you get the pod person and once you’ve been around enough pod people you find it hard to sleep and hard to believe there are any Academic Deans still out there.