Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Let's talk a little bit about karma. It's a concept that runs through most major religions and deals with the ideas that you are responsible for your actions, and that such actions have a cause-and-effect relationship.
In the Christian faith, karma is probably best expressed by Galations 6:7-8: " ... whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
In the eastern versions, it gets a little complicated, and in those that deal with reincarnation, karma can get carried over from life to the next. If you do good deeds, they pay off; if you do bad, you get payback -- but either might not happen in this lifetime.
It is a comforting concept to somebody who has been screwed over, that whoever did it is gonna get theirs someday. I confess I'd rather see that happen sooner than later. Guy runs me off the road, I will be tickled to see him two miles up the highway pulled over and getting a big fat ticket ...
Unfortunately, gloating when somebody gets theirs only makes more bad karma for you. Actions cost more than words, and words more than thoughts, but you can get dinged for thinking, too.
Back when I was in high school, I dated a girl of whom I was much enamored. Let's call her "Linda." After half a dozen dates, I asked her to the senior prom.
Alas, she was not quite as taken with me as I was her, and her answer was, "Let me think about it."
Those of you who have been in high school know immediately what this really means: "Let me see if somebody better asks me."
Rather to hear "Piss off and die!" than "Let me think about it ..."
I was not pleased, no way, no how, no sir.
Several weeks passed, with me twisting in the wind. Linda suddenly became too busy to talk to me. Her dance card filled up, no weekends were vacant. I had been given my marching papers, and like Dylan said, you don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the winds blows ...
I was bereft.
After my dark depression lifted somewhat -- nobody likes to be dumped --I resolved to cut a swath through the best-looking -- yeah, that was me, Mr. Superficial -- best-looking girls in school, to date all who would have me. I made a list of the top ten. Most of them had boyfriends who played football, but that didn't deter me.
Fortunately, I must have earned some good karma in a previous life. The first girl I picked, the best-looking and smartest one of the bunch, said yes. And that was as far as I got on the list.
We have been married for forty-one years.
But back to karma:
The young lady who put me on hold faded in memory quickly after I hooked up with the woman who would someday own me body and soul. Poof, dust in the wind. Or down in Louisiana, perhaps mud in the swamp would be more accurate.
Shortly before the senior prom Linda called me. "So, I guess you have somebody to take to the prom, huh?"
There was a long pause. "Oh."
I was so righteous in my thought: Hey, you had your chance. What the hell did you expect?
We hung up. I had a warm glow inside.
Come the prom, Linda showed up with a guy from another school. Happened that I knew him, and found out that she had asked him. This, of course, was simply not done back in my day, the boys always asked. Oh, now I really felt smug. See? See what you get? I didn't have clue what karma was, but I liked what it was doing for me.
During the prom, Linda came over. Asked me to dance. We did. She was on the edge of tears. "I should have said yes when you asked," she said.
I said nothing. Yes, bitch, you should have. Too bad.
Seventeen-year-old boys are, by and large, fools and ne'er-do-wells, I was no exception. I was so smug. Served her right and -- snapping his fingers -- that for you, Linda! Small cruelty, not like torturing somebody, but a cruelty nonetheless.
School ended, we went out into the world, and I didn't see Linda until our 25th class reunion. She had moved off to New England somewhere, gotten married had kids, and we had a chance to visit. I didn't bear her any ill will; after all, had she accepted my invitation in 1965, I might never have asked my wife out, and boy, wouldn't that have been a different road? If anything, I owed her, big-time. But it takes experience to see such things. I can't claim to be wise, but life has knocked a few of the sharp corners off, yessir. You live long enough, you learn stuff.
I think I've paid that particular bit of smug karma off -- there are a couple events that resonate that way, and they stung. But, given what I got?
Such a deal. Such a deal ...