Divine Comedy

by Rachel Creager Ireland

“I believe that reality is a sublime comedy staged for my education and amusement, and that there is a benevolent conspiracy to liberate me from my ignorance and help transform me into the unique masterpiece I was born to be.”

My favorite astrologer, Rob Brezsny, posted these words on facebook recently, with an invitation to say them out loud. I loved it so much I wrote it on a piece of paper and taped it where I would be sure to see it frequently, on the window above the kitchen sink. While washing dishes I would read it aloud, practicing different inflections, two or three times a day.

I made a small change, from “was born” to “am born,” which, in my opinion, didn’t change the substance, simply the location (past vs present). But I kept wondering about the comedy part, which seemed too important to change. Of course I am free to change anything I want, but if I wanted to learn from the statement, I thought I’d best work with it as it was written. Thing is, I’m not so much of a comedy kind of person. I enjoy good humor and laughter, but generally if I were picking a movie to watch, I’d be more likely to choose a drama, something serious and thoughtful, or something spacey and beautiful with lots to think about, like the last movie I saw in a theater, Gravity. I’ll go to a comedy when the family wants to see something together, or with the kids. Why does my life need to be a comedy?

Then again, people often tell me I take things too seriously. Maybe the comedy part was precisely what attracted me to this particular quote in the first place. Maybe that’s what I need to learn from it, which I won’t, if I change it.

I stuck with it for a few weeks, until I hit a patch in which I was overcommitted and not really washing dishes all that much anyway, and didn’t feel much like laughing at the serious pursuits at which I was working so hard. What’s funny about washing motel linens and cleaning rooms, then doing housework? Ho hum. Not necessarily unenjoyable, -I wasn’t unhappy- just not particularly comedic.

Not surprisingly, I got sick, and tried to deny it longer than usual, because there was so much going on that I wanted to do. At the end of a full week, I had signed up to go to a leadership conference in Salina, hosted by Girls Scouts. It’s one of the good things they do that are paid for by all those cookies and merch. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. I didn’t want to skate through leading a troop by doing the easiest activities, and whatever is entertaining. I wanted, through leading Girls Scouts, to present experiences and tools that will help the girls as they go through their lives, facing difficult choices and challenges when no one is there to guide them.

So, naturally, this is where the comedy set in. The night before, I was coughing too much to sleep well. I rose early to make time for a long drive. I took a long shower, trying to clear my lungs, then dressed in the dark, to avoid disturbing Kevin. I couldn’t find any of the clothes I’d thought I might wear. It occurred to me that I’d had an image of myself as a professional, but the first outfit I could put together consisted of some threadbare leggings and an oversized sweatshirt, with a scarf added for the sake of accessorizing. It seemed like a theme perfect for a sitcom. We’ll imagine, perhaps, a mash-up of Dharma and Mary Tyler Moore, who wants desperately to present herself as a competent professional, but barely manages to show up in a ragged, casual get-up she might have worn two decades ago, in college.

Running late, but thinking she can probably still slip into the keynote speech without missing much, she arrives at the gas station and notices a nail in one of the tires of her vehicle. She’s able to drive to the tire shop, but ends up replacing two tires (it was a really good price, not to be passed up), and enjoys the fine young lads at the tire shop, who are contagiously cheerful and tell her about the many ways to use old tires in the garden and compost. She hits the road over an hour late, finding the light on the prairie on this lovely autumn morning is stunning. She misses the keynote speech altogether, and slides into one of the last seats in the first conference session, right behind a smartly-dressed lady in an expensive brocade jacket and trefoil earrings, whom she will not realize until later is the CEO of Girl Scouts in most of Kansas.

And a good time was had by all. Tune in next week for more rollicking hijinks when Dharma Mary scares customers away by answering the door in her nightgown, and through the haze of her gooey eyes, she momentarily thinks someone has sneaked into the house in the night and cleaned the bathroom sink.

I’ll admit some of the details above are exaggerated for effect. Some are not. Care to guess which are which?