Adrian the cabbie has an interesting post on karma. When someone does you wrong, you often wish that either that the consequences of their actions will come back to bite them on the bottom, or that something equivalent happens to them as a result of their bad actions. It’s a tantalising concept, and a tempting principle to invoke.
One of the Islamic versions of the afterlife is that everything you did to other people is returned one thousand fold when you die. Thus, if you were nice, obviously the afterlife is particularly nice for you…but if you were nasty… When it comes to suicide bombers, I entertain the thought that rather than encountering the specified number of virgins, they’ll encounter this particular Islamic afterlife…whoopsies for them… (bwah ha ha ha ha!)
Anyway, after reading Adrian’s post, I remembered a scary example of karma in my past. It just proves that one should be careful what one wishes for…
Thanks to my premature birth, I could only walk on my toes because the tendons in my legs were too tight, and I also had terrible balance. When I was 13, doctors proposed operating to fix the tendons. Of course, kids being kids, I’d been badly teased at school, so I was very keen to undertake the operation, despite the fact that it hadn’t been done before often to someone who was fully compos mentis. Usually people who had this operation had other severe cognitive disabilities, which meant that they couldn’t communicate how well the operation worked. It just proves how damn lucky and blessed I am – I thank my lucky stars every day of my life that the only problem I had was with my legs – it could have been so much worse.
All went well with the operation, but when they removed the plaster from my legs, I realised a stunning truth – I had no idea how to walk normally. Indeed, I was unable to take a single step. I fainted. (I think I’d envisaged running out of the surgery). Slowly, I taught myself how to walk normally, with lots of support from my family and friends. My dear little sister used to massage my legs for me to relieve the pain which unfortunately still plagues me sometimes. My best friend’s mother helped me with Feldenkrais to give me a better understanding of how to move my body.
Still, it took a few years before I was totally nimble on my feet. When I was 14 or so, there was a girl in my class who was particularly nasty to me, and she picked on my sore point: the way I walked. She was a truly unpleasant piece of work. As I explained in my comment on Adrian’s site, every time that girl was nasty to me, I thought, “I wish something really bad would happen to her, and she would know what it’s like to be unable to walk.”
I left that school soon after (no wonder), and we moved to the UK. Some years later, I was totally freaked out to hear later that the nasty girl had been involved in a very bad car accident when she was about 16, and had acquired brain injury as a result. When I returned to Australia, I saw her in a local supermarket. She was on crutches. Obviously, the injuries she had sustained had affected her capacity to walk properly. Then I felt really guilty – like I’d wished it on her. I realised that all I had wanted was for her to know for a few days what it was like to be me, not for her to be permanently injured. I do hope that she recovered to the maximum extent possible, and has learned to walk as well as I am now able to walk.
Nevertheless, I do sometimes wonder if she ever regrets teasing me now that she knows what it’s like to learn to walk from scratch? So, the moral of the story is: karma can be spooky. Ever since then, I’m wary of invoking karma.