Excerpt: 'Why Is God Laughing'

PHOTO The cover for the book "Why Is God Laughing?: The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism," by Deepak Chopra is shown.

Author Deepak Chopra uses the fictional story of a comedian and his mentor to illustrate the journey to joy and happiness.

In "Why Is God Laughing?" Chopra writes about Mickey Fellows, a successful Los Angeles comic who meets a mysterious stranger following his father's death.

Read an excerpt of the book below.

Grace shines like a sliver of light. It penetrates the universe, undeterred by distance or darkness. You won't see it, but it knows where it is going. At any moment someone may be touched by its mysterious power.

Even Mickey Fellows.

On this particular day Mickey was speeding through the Valley in his black Cadillac Escalade, keeping half an eye out for police. The L.A. sun glared off the freeway, but for Mickey, sitting behind his tinted windows and wraparound shades, it could have been twilight.

"Say that again," he muttered into his cell phone.

"The club owners aren't happy. They say the new material isn't funny. They want the old Mickey back." It was Alicia, his agent.

"Screw 'em. They should kiss my derriere that I even bother to show up."

Mickey Fellows had movie offers from two studios. His last divorce had made the cover of People magazine. The only reason he worked the comedy clubs at all was to keep his feel for the audience.

Alicia didn't back down. "You don't want to play it that way. You may need those clubs some day."

"God forbid." Mickey lit up another menthol Merit.

God has the advantage of witnessing every lifetime at once, erasing all differences. If you could look down on the human race from an infinite distance, you'd see Everyman was on the freeway that day. Like the rest of us, Mickey gave little thought to his soul. He didn't want to face painful truths, so he managed to distract himself almost every waking hour.

At this moment, Mickey figured it was time for a laugh. "I've got a good one for you," he told his agent.

"My grandfather's eighty years old, and he still has sex almost every day. He almost had it on Monday, he almost had it on Tuesday, he almost had it on Wednesday."

Alicia was silent.

"I think I have another call coming in," said Mickey.

"No, you don't."

"I'm not kidding this time," Mickey said. "Hold on." He pushed a button. "Hello?"

"Is this Michael Fellows?"

"Who wants to know?" Strangers were always getting his number.

"I'm calling from Cedars-Sinai Hospital."

Mickey felt a bead of sweat roll down his neck. He gripped the wheel tighter.

"Yes?" In the few seconds between an impending disaster and its crash to earth, an amazing number of thoughts can race through your mind. Mickey saw himself at his annual physical the week before. His wife's face flashed before him, as clearly as if they hadn't been divorced for five years. Cancer, AIDS, car accident. Fate's wheel was spinning, and the arrow was about to stop.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Fellows. It's your father."

"Did he fall? Someone's supposed to be watching him," Mickey said. He had hired a full-time housekeeper for his father, a placid Guatemalan lady who knew little English.

"Your father got the best care in the ER. Everything possible was done to revive him, but he couldn't be saved."

Mickey didn't hear those last words. As soon as the voice said "everything possible was done," a roar in Mickey's ears drowned out everything else.

"When did he die?"

The voice on the phone, a woman's and probably a nurse, started to explain, but the roar kept blocking it out.

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