The other day, I was driving the kids to school and the subject of karma came up. I almost can’t remember how. Oh, I know! It was the car accident story. I was updating the kids on the car accident story.
The story is this: I had Margaux in the car and we were waiting for a car to pull out from a parking spot. I wanted to give the car a bit more room, so I looked in my rear view mirror to make sure it was clear and I backed up a few inches. At the same time, a woman made a U-turn from the other side of the street into, basically, my car.
It happened so fast that I didn’t know she was there until she blasted her horn. I had already looked to make sure I could back up so I knew it wasn’t my fault. Plus, I’m not sure driving rules, even here in California, have drivers psychically responsible for another driver’s intent to time travel to the other side of the street as if a grasshopper escaping a newspaper coming its way.
The driver pulled up next to me to ask if I was okay and then explained that she was in a hurry as if it’s okay to nearly kill someone as long as you were late for spin class.
She peeled out and drove away and it wasn’t until I got home (you probably already figured this part out, but I’m not always as fast as you are), it wasn’t until I got home that I realized she asked me if I was okay because she had hit my car. It was a light enough tap that it didn’t rattle the car and so I didn’t know she’d actually made contact.
The kids were indignant that someone would hit someone’s car and not tell them. They wanted some answers, which I gave to them in the form of karma.
It’s worth noting that I have always found the concept of karma incredibly frustrating. That’s because I’m a rule follower. I don’t cheat on tests, I give two weeks notice, and I pay bills on time because those are the rules. I’m certainly not perfect, but I follow the rules.
But, like the woman who hit my car and drove off because I didn’t know she had, not everybody follows the rules. And not everybody’s karma seems to catch up with them, at least not while I’m watching.
For rule followers, the prolonged karma catch up, can make us nearly lose our minds. We spend a lifetime being stealthy indignant. Because we want life to be fair, and as we all know it isn’t.
We want answers.
But I think the world can be awfully confusing for kids, it is for me after all. And I’m an adult. How can someone hit your car and drive away? Why do people steal? What happens when we die? Why did a friend call me stupid at school?
I thought the spiritual philosophy of “Oh, they’ll get theirs” might help make a confusing world seem more black and white.
But then Balt asked, “How do you wash away karma?”
Again, my child had stumped me. They hate when I say I don’t know. They want answers. I know how they feel. From Snapchat to Donald Trump, I want answers too.
So I went into a big Dalai Lama inspired thesis on atonement and forgiveness. I explained how different religions view karma, one’s past, and one’s future. I talked about apologizing, make amends, and how some people believe in confession.
He listened for a while and then politely interrupted. “I think you just take a shower,” he said. “I think you wash away karma by taking a shower.”
Or you just could do that.
Now, if only it were that easy to explain how babies are made and what happens when we die. And Snapchat and Donald Trump. If only it were that easy.
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