Yesterday was walking walking walking, starting out in my apartment skittering from floor to floor and then off to the office and around the campus and then with Gina delving far into center city where i somehow managed to spend under $20 on a shopping trip for once in my life and then back to university city to walk in circles upon circles that eventually left me sweating and smiling heading back up the stairs of my apartment.
It seems like Gina and i can have one endlessly strung out conversation that will last us from the beginning of whenever we see each other all the way until when she finally has to get back to her apartment to continue with her own life rather than with our all-too-briefly shared one, and yesterday was no exception. I don’t know how we wind up talking about sushi and the existence of an afterlife and cool brands of wah-pedals and bars on South Street that got busted for selling coke all at once with hardly a pause for breath, but we definitely do.
Two intrinsically linked things came out of our infinite conversation that keep echoing in my head, and those things are coping and karma. Gina and i have known each other for eight years now, and in the history of our friendship we can find many examples of events that in retrospect look totally different to us than they felt at the time. Both of us were entirely emotionally unhealthy heading into our last year of high school, though neither one of us would have admitted it to the other (or anyone else) (or ourselves) at the time. Gina had a great new boyfriend and was sure to be a lead in the play, my guitar playing skills had picked up and i was accepted into all of the AP classes i wanted … things all seemed good. Of course, looks deceive, and i was depressed about life and college and even though i was past being obsessed with my weight on a day to day basis i was entirely too thin and Gina was my best friend at the time but she had to deal with her own set of problems that i won’t even begin to enumerate here. And now we get to reflect on the situation and reveal what was going on inside at the time.
Mentioning such meager problems in my life makes me feel like a lightweight, especially considering that i came through it all not significantly worse for the wear. What keeps me wondering about the way the world operates is that at the time i would have told you that i was happy and doing well but looking back i can see through that to my life being relatively empty and hollow at the time. I don’t know how i kept from being miserable and sick and exhausted and defeated. Maybe i was all of that and i didn’t even realize it at the time (and still don’t).
This is where karma comes in. Bad things happen to good people all of the time, and visa versa. Whether or not karma exists as an actual repayment for your actions in life it is present in that your choices will alter you and your psyche for the rest of your life. Comparatively, my choices were easy and my hurdles were not high and i didn’t even think about balking at them at the time, and i think the fact that i didn’t flinch has left me as the relatively healthy person i am now – three years after the fact. What makes me really wonder about life, though, really wonder, is the people who were not ever allowed to make an easy choice and who have always been presented with hurdle after hurdle to leap. I know too many people in my life who have had to face too many challenges, and almost too many of them to believe have somehow walked through all of their fire and brimstone and still manage to smile every day; that isn’t to say that they don’t have problems and issues, but that they aren’t consumed by them all the time.
I am not an especially strong person, and my amassed karma must be equally tiny in relation to the world on the whole. I have never been extremely sick, i have two healthy parents who i have relatively open lines of communication with, i have never been financially in danger of losing my home or my possessions, and i have never been physically or emotionally threatened so much that i was unable to defend myself. But, i know people who have battled health problems for years, who have lost parents to feuds and time, who have lived on incomes stretched to the breaking point, and who have endured assaults on their physical and emotional well being on more than one occasion. What really scares me about life is that sometimes all of this is inflicted on one family… even one person, and that they are left to come through it or to fail somewhere in the middle. I know people who failed and are stuck endlessly in a feedback loop of emotional and physical trauma that they will inflict upon themselves if no one else will do it for them, but what amazes me about life is that for every one of those people i know more than one person who still believes fully in everything life has to offer them rather than inflict upon them after battling a similar set of circumstances. Everyone who has faced against a difficult set of circumstances has problems and regrets, but not every one of those people can wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night, and that power alone is something that stuns me.
What’s my point? Who knows… is there ever one, really? The point, i suppose, is that my tiny mound of shiny karma is but a pebble in the face of what some people have amassed, and that i just hope that they all get to redeem what life owes to them… and that i will get to see them enjoy every second of it; i’d gladly trade in my karma just for that.