Karma Revisited

This is a post from my old blog, but one of my favorites. I wrote it in 2012 but it is more relevant every day, as with age comes knowledge.

Back when I was a smoker, I would always go outside. Living at my townhouse, I would go out on the patio which faced the back of another building. My neighbor’s upstairs bedroom window overlooked my patio and as a result, my smoke would travel up to her window. Inevitably, it would be open and she would look out the window, less than pleased at the uninvited smoke and slam the window closed. Being a die hard smoker, I wouldn’t think too much about how my smoking impacted her need for cool, non-toxic air. I would just think some less the charitable thoughts about grouchy people (kinds of like – wow sucks to be you!) and go on smoking.

Nearly ten years later, I’m fast asleep in my bedroom, with the sliding glass door open to allow the cool night air in when I awake to the smell of cigarette smoke strongly hanging in my bedroom. One of my neighbors was outside on their patio, smoking away with the carefree attitude I had all those years ago and I was the neighbor who was running to close the sliding glass door with the expression of disgust and irritation. I immediately had to laugh; karma had found me all these years later and delivered a payback so direct and exact that I could’t help but recall my non-smoking upstairs window neighbor and my lack of concern for her. (Yeah, sucks to be YOU!) The shoe was solidly on the other foot now. I would have never thought 10 years ago that I would be bothered by cigarette smoke or that I would ever not be smoking; how completely wrong I was. Now I can’t imagine ever going back to smoking or being so self centered that I would force someone to suffer the negative aspects of my addiction.

This has made me really stop to think before I act or say things now. I don’t express my impatience by tapping my foot or making dramatic, heavy sighs when the older lady in line at the grocery store pulls out her dozen or more coupons. I try very hard not to cast a critical look at the young mother whose child is acting out, screaming and/or throwing a fit because it’s past nap time. I have no idea how karma would repay those negative, unkind actions and thoughts and I certainly don’t want to find out.

Instead, I try to concentrate on putting out positive, healing, loving actions and thoughts. It’s a little (or a lot) more difficult sometimes but i feel that the return will be so much greater for the effort. If I hear someone say how horrible they are feeling, I I will pass by with a comment that may not destroy that horrible feeling, but it will plant a seed of happiness or at the very least, hope. If I come across someone who feels as though no one cares what they have to say, I will stop for a minute and listen. These actions themselves are very small and take no more than a few minutes. It’s just the stopping and shifting the focus from inward (all about me ) to outward (thinking of others and taking action/follow through) and knowing that the time is there, I just need to use it wisely. I don’t consciously keep a tally of karma’s return because more often than not, the return is immediate. I see the smile on that person’s face, see the tension leave their body as a small weight is lifted from their shoulders by the strength of empathy and compassion. Letting someone know they are not invisible, they are seen and they matter is the most precious gift you can, aside from your time to do so. Time is the one resource we cannot beg, borrow, buy or steal more of, so give while you have it and know you matter and know you have an integral role in the happiness of not only yourself and those you love, but those you don’t know and have yet to love.

What he said.

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