And so it begins. “Hobbin and nobbin, hobbin and nobbin, hobbin and nobbin neck and neck.” (the infamous horse racing joke). Then the punch line. “The two horses looked at each other, waiting for the declaration of the winner and in unison say ‘A dog that talks?'” Greeted not with boastful laughter, but rather confused silence, it was upon this day that I knew I had not been gifted with the grace of joke-telling abilities. My brief, fleeting career as a rehearsed comedian had succinctly and successfully ended itself. This is my coming-to-terms. I am a poor joke-teller. All of my friends, foes, brief acquaintances, family members and perhaps even some Skiff readers know this. My humor is an oddity in itself, but when I plan to execute a drawn-out joke, upon which timing and order is of the greatest importance, I daresay no one fails as miserably as I. Additionally, I’m rather technologically inept. I ask my roommates to TiVo shows for me and then require one of them to be present in order to watch it again. Lastly, my sports knowledge ceased accumulation in high school, only possessing information from 2002 and before.
The first time that I attempted the above-mentioned joke, I was frustrated with the lack of response. Surely the listeners lacked the superior intellect to understand the humor of two talking horses staring bewildered and incredulous at a talking dog. But this was not the case. I soon accepted that, this not being one of my stronger abilities, I should focus elsewhere. From here I began to write more frequently and develop a bit of snobbery about music. Additionally, with my other faults in hand, I have learned that there are benefits to lacking knowledge about certain things. It allows not only for you to invest in other things, but to admire those who are proficient in these areas. I realize now that I’ve underappreciated many talents until I attempted to perform these acts myself.
With this greater appreciation comes an acknowledgment of one’s own hubris. I’ve certainly been proud in my own day, and I can reasonably accept that others have also felt this way. But alas, for pride leads to egoism and a big head, and potential neck problems. So what better way to quell such disastrous consequences before they occur? Moving into the post-graduate world, there is a sense of excitement and potential, but also a certain amount of being unsure, along with which comes anxiety. Yet, this should not lead to concern or worry, because along with my bad joke-telling skills, I know that I have acquired plenty of other useful skills: learning to hop a bike over a curb, parallel parking, but perhaps most importantly, how to communicate and interact with other people. In realizing my own inadequacies, I’m able to see the positives in other people, as well as myself.
Therefore, acknowledging one’s own inability to TiVo correctly, or deliver a punch line to a joke should not be a source of discontent. It should be a source of inspiration. Too often we are called to improve ourselves in areas where we haven’t succeeded in the past. Instead, we should be focusing on our talents. Such a proverbial message is evident everywhere, from the university’s StrengthsQuest program to the idea of stewardship in Catholicism. In an era plagued with depression and high levels of competition, it is important to remember that everyone is gifted in some capacity. This is where the emphasis should exist.
While I can’t guarantee that I will cease telling jokes, or even long, drawn-out, detailed stories lacking any sort of resolution, I do know that I will strive to achieve in other areas. In a culture that values individuality and independence so much, shouldn’t this be the ultimate goal? At a university that emphasizes diversity, this is a pertinent thought upon which to focus. In accepting our faults and making light of them, we open the door for achievement in other avenues. May we continue in this spirit, helping each other not only with playful derision, but encouragement as well. As a wise friend once inquired, “Why don’t you take a shower with a Pokemon in the house?” Of course, because they might “Pikachu.”
Matt Boaz is a senior political science major from Edmond, Okla.