Karma Police, Arrest This Man

“I believe in karma. What you give is what you get returned. I believe you can’t appreciate real love ’til you’ve been burned. I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side. I believe you don’t know what you’ve got until you say goodbye.” ~Affirmation, Savage Garden

karma 1If I were in a 12-step program it would probably require me to do a bunch of things I don’t want to do. You know, like apologize to people I’ve wronged in order to restore harmony to the universe, or something like that. There’s something to that 12-step program mantra that presupposes things that are out of harmony can be realigned by words and focus, as if karma can be thwarted because we’re sorry.

Hold up. Let me start again. I believe in karma. Yes, that’s a better beginning. I think that we do indeed reap what we sow, sometimes in more ways than one. And I think it goes both ways, positively and negatively. It’s like reinforcement. When we see a child yell at another child and we slap him on the hand for yelling, we shouldn’t be surprised when the child, in another conflict, slaps another child on the hand instead of yelling. We are just like children in that way because we do learn from others around us, and these interactions shape the way we see the world.

Karma: action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.

When I was twenty years old I stole money from my mother. It was a lot of money, but the amount doesn’t really matter. The action itself does. My mother had spent nearly her entire adult life providing for me and my sister, doing everything in her power to help us succeed in life, and my actions were a slap in the face. When she found out it was the disappointment in her eyes that hurt more than yelling or hitting me ever could have. I broke my mother’s heart, not just because I stole the money but I spent time and resources lying about it. That action created subsequent ripples that changed the entire course of my life. That’s karma.

karma_police-430x244And I have been sorry from the moment that happened. Things were strained between my mother and myself for years, but we’ve finally gotten to a place where the awkwardness if gone. That’s not to say I don’t still think of it from time to time, and that she doesn’t as well, but she’s forgiven me and we’ve forged a new relationship from the ashes of the old one. Yet there are still consequences, inevitable results of that transgression, the primary one being that it was the impetus that sent me to Tennessee, a horrendous place, but a place I needed to be in order to meet my future wife. Funny how that works, that both good and bad consequences came out of that poor decision.

“What you give is what you get returned.”

That quote still haunts me though, because it’s inherently untrue, and even though I believe in karma, I don’t think reciprocity is the only outcome, meaning irony can be a huge part of karma. If you give fake compliments and you make fun of someone behind their back, sometimes the best karma can be them treating you nicely, doing something special for you that makes you feel horrible that you were so cruel. And there are some people who are mean and prejudiced for whatever reason, so no matter how nice you are to them they won’t be nice to you in return. They will get theirs. Just wait and see. And even when you can’t see it, it still happens. Some karma is quieter than others.

Karma-QuotesWhat I love most about karma is that it follows science, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, even if we don’t understand how it fits the “opposite” end of the spectrum sometimes. Is it some God who deals out the consequences or just the result of a universe so full of emotions and energy that it’s bursting at the seams and overflowing? I like to think it’s a little of both, that the scales balance even when we don’t see it, that this life is a complicated interweaving of actions and reactions, of reinforcements and consequences. But whatever it is, I know that it’s never a one-way interaction between us and this crazy universe of ours.

And that makes me proud just to be a part of it.


Write What You Know?

I’ve heard it more times than I care to admit, those people reading my writing, clucking their tongues and saying, “You write what you know.” And I get exasperated, because they’ve probably just read my treatise on the glory of the socialist state, or my poem about a trip to hell, or the story I wrote from the perspective of a girl who lost her virginity at 13. How would I know anything about any of that, having never lived in a socialist state (that I know of), never having been to hell (although maybe Brooklyn qualifies these days), and never having been a girl (my virginity was intact until I was 21, by the way)? Yet they somehow try to force me into the narrative, into the dialogue somehow, as if there is no other way of writing, as if my imagination isn’t good enough (or perhaps too good) to come up with something like that out of thin air.

Give writers more credit. Or at least give some writers more credit. You know the writer who only writes about their daily lives, their troubles, their issues, and their foibles. And that’s okay. Some of my favorite bloggers are those who write that and only that. It’s what they know, and they’re experts at it. If I can’t live inside their skin, it’s a close second to read through their emotional baggage laid out on the screen. I know, too, for so many of those writers, it’s a therapeutic exercise, to get it all out, like focused breathing. In and out. Repeat. Some writers have that gift, to connect the readers with the experience, just as it happened and nothing else. Continue reading “Write What You Know?”

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