Having worked for some fifteen years as a high school teacher, I have an excellent radar for irony. I, myself, enjoy healthy servings of the stuff, though I try to follow Rilke’s lead in not becoming too familiar with it in uncreative moments. And of course, irony only really works if we human beings are sometimes in earnest. It depends on earnestness for its existence in a way that earnestness doesn’t depend on it. Also, I have never found the two together in the duct work of same utterance, mine or anyone’s, at least not until recently.
It was about a year ago that I first experienced someone say something that was both in earnest and ironic at the same time. It was not a fully intentional or accidental occurrence, just as the utterance wasn’t fully sincere or ironic, but actually bigger and more compelling than both. When I spoke to this someone, my friend Edgard, about it, he seemed to have been only half aware of what he was doing. I guess I supplied the other half of awareness.
I bring this up because it provides some context to explain how I feel about doing mission #6. In this mission, I’m supposed to discover my superpowers by asking at least ten people to weigh in on what they are. I feel both confident and insecure, perhaps also sincere and ironic, in asking for this feedback, not wanting to come across as needy on the one hand or narcissistic on the other. My goal is to do the mission, indeed, all the missions of this adventure, with as much equanimity and grace as possible, but an equanimity and grace that also admits frustration and awkwardness.
It has been my experience that we are entering an age when opposite motives and feelings can readily and consciously co-exist in the same utterance or action and in so doing, heighten the effect of it.