I was asked earlier today what I do when I have a bad day. And before I could answer the question, I had to think about it a long, long, looong time.
You see, I don’t have bad days very often. I have days that are less stellar than others, but in general I’m grounded by the realization that no matter how tough I’ve got it on a particular day, there’s probably someone having a worse time. Not to say that I feel better knowing there are others suffering more, but that my troubles aren’t worth crying over in the grand scheme of things. Heck, I don’t even like calling them troubles.
I guess when I have a “bad” day, I talk about it with people. I’ll talk to my roommate, call my sister, or call my dad. I’ll usually talk about it with coworkers the next day, and with friends. And in doing so, I marginalize it. It becomes a point of conversation and nothing more, and usually I find myself putting a positive spin on it. After all, I don’t like doing anything that’s going to depress someone.
This sometimes leads me to wonder: do I really live THAT good a life? Or am I just content with a somewhat mediocre existence, and incapable of recognizing it due to my optimistic outlook? While I have nothing to really complain about, there are lots of things that could be better. I could make more money or have a better house. I could be in a relationship or be famous. And oh yeah, I could be taller. Really, everything about my life could be vastly improved…or be far worse. And I don’t know what to make of that.
Sometimes I feel like I have a greater purpose, but haven’t figured out exactly what that purpose is. And sometimes I just wonder why I’m so full of myself.
Which brings us to the title of this scatterthought. I like to think that I do good things in this world, and I pride myself on giving more than I take from it. So I have to wonder: is karma doing its thing by giving me an above-average life, or is there some greater reward in my future?
Conversely, does it really matter whether you’re good or evil?
I suspect that karma works on one level, but not on another. In the physical world, karma works when someone recognizes the efforts of another person, creating goodwill. The problem is that most of us are unaware of the good that others bring into this world.
However, it’s a little tougher to believe that karma is a grand, unifying force that awards the good people and punishes the bad people. Otherwise, I’d have to believe that we’d all have figured it out by now and the world would be full of good people who don’t want to be punished.
In the end, karma is the same as any other “higher power” concept: it’s a good thing for people who need moral guidance, providing a reason to be good in the form of a potential reward for doing so. That’s not quite as pure as a truly selfless act, for which there can be no expectation of a reward, but it’s close enough.
I suspect that if we all held to the simple idea of karma, this would be a much better world to live in.
Truth be told, I’d like to think that karma does exist in the existential sense. I’m not driven to do the things I do based on karmic rewards–I find it satisfying just to do good things anyway–but it would be nice to think that everything I do for others will eventually come back to me.
As well, it would be nice to think that the bad, selfish things done by people in this world will be reflected upon them in turn.
Really, karma just takes the Heaven/Hell concept and projects it into the mortal world, suggesting that instead of waiting to find out if you were good enough to get into Heaven, you can benefit in this lifetime.
Which is why I’m fairly certain that there’s no truth to it.
Regardless, I’ll never know for sure. And you know what? No one is hurt by the idea of karma. It’s just one of those things that’s out there. And I like that.