Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Your karma called while you were in the shower.

karma (kahr-muh)-noun—action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.

How many of us live our lives thinking, at least subconsciously, that some cosmic scoreboard exists, tallying both our good deeds and bad and meting out rewards and paybacks, that the universe maintains balance through a circular fluidity of cause and effect?

I hear crickets chirping. Oh, well, maybe I'm in the minority.

I'm a resolute believer in karma. When one of my kids points out an injustice, using that time-worn complaint, "It's not fair," I've begun playing the karma card with them. "You know, what?" I'll say, "You're absolutely right. It isn't fair that the bully punched you at recess and nothing happened to her. You should just feel sorry for her, though. She's probably has a rough time of things at home."

Naturally, I should stop right there, but I don't. I'll usually continue with something like, "Let's just hope that when the teacher asks her to pass out math homework tomorrow, she gets a bloody paper cut under her nose. It'll be her karma, honey."

We want to hope that the culprit gets his or hers, even if we're not there to witness it. And I usually wonder, when something unfortunate happens to me, is it a karmic payback? For example:

I barely missed the bus this morning. Is that because I took a little extra time to pack the last Ding Dong in my lunch?

I stubbed my toe really hard on the bed post. Is it because yesterday morning, I didn't give up my bus seat to the blind, one-legged nun?

Damn it. I'm standing in the shower and there's no shampoo. Is it because I didn't get more shampoo?

After forty-eight years of experiencing the yin and yang of karma, I've finally compiled a basic list of behaviors I won't exhibit at the risk of being billy clubbed and pepper sprayed by the karma police:

I will never use the "sick kid" excuse to get out of any type of commitment—that's playing with fire.

I won't do anything mean to an old person, no matter how cantankerous or incompetent they are. I realize this is common sense, but I once honked at a terrible driver who turned out to be an elderly woman. I'm not saying my intestinal distress that afternoon was a direct result, but...

I won't keep that extra dollar that the cashier incorrectly doled out as change. It could result in the purchase of the first package of Trident gum containing Mad Cow Disease.

I won't drop and break that jar of spaghetti sauce at Safeway and walk away without notifying a store employee. Well, unless it's the Super Chunky Mushroom Ragu, in which case I'll dip a little piece of sourdough in it, carefully avoiding glass shards, and then tell someone.

Whether you believe in the whole "what comes around, goes around" theory or not, it's not a terrible way to keep our dark side in check. So go ahead and mail me that twenty-dollar bill you found on the sidewalk yesterday.

I'm pretty sure it's mine.

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