Thoughts on friendships and karma
Tonight I’m going to make my first in a series of daily countdown videos until my 30th birthday on 9/29. But just to get my thought process started, I wanted to write a bit about friendships and karma. Whenever a situation occurs where I am being treated in a hurtful and senseless manner, I try to remember three things:
1) Perception of a situation is subjective. Two people can look at the same thing and see it in two entirely different ways.
2) Sometimes love, without multiple harmonious and aligned factors, just isn’t enough.
2) Karma is a bitch.
In my lifetime so far, I’ve gone through similar situations repeatedly. I do something, another person interprets it in an incorrect manner and reacts. Someone does something, I interpret it in an incorrect manner and react. It all boils down to communication (effective or ineffective) and the decisions you make after you perceive what you perceive.
We have to live with all those decisions based on perception. So these days, I do my best to 1) breathe, 2) think first and 3) react later. Because my first impulse isn’t always the most healthy or productive when I’m coming from an emotional state. I don’t always succeed at this, but I make a conscious effort to not be ruled by emotions. And with each passing day, I get better at accepting and moving past the way others react towards me (in positive and negative ways).
Perception also ties to a very accurate saying: “Actions speak louder than words.” If you tell someone you are going to do something and then do the exact opposite, it’s your actions that actually count at the end of the day. People perceive your ACTIONS and judge you accordingly. Sometimes the way we are judged is unjust, but often it’s tied to our actions. Sometimes our perceptions are clouded by insecurity, resulting in a chain of events that would have never had to transpire if we had just practiced patience and understanding.
When someone perceives my actions from an insecure point of view, and is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, all I can do is remember that I have no control over the actions of others. I can only control my own decisions and the way I choose to perceive situations.
Ultimately I have to trust my instincts, which is a process that isn’t always so smooth. But trusting myself and my ability to make good choices is part of living. So I embrace it, bumps in the road and all.
“Sometimes love isn’t enough.” No truer words were spoken, right? I can’t recall who said this to me first, but I remember that the first time I heard it I was taken aback, aghast. “WHAT???? Love isn’t enough??? How can that be possible???” It was hard for me to grasp, but now I see — it makes perfect sense.
Sometimes we think we’re ready for things and we’re not. Sometimes work schedules conflict. And sometimes you’re just fundamentally — and in key areas — not compatible with someone. This applies to all relationships, not just romantic.
But striving for love, experiencing love in different ways, is what makes life worth living. Loving someone or an experience goes hand in hand with accumulating knowledge. Love is a conduit for personal growth of all sorts.
So I never regret my experiences with love, as perilous as they can be 😉 I can never regret being allowed to experience someone’s most vulnerable states, to be trusted and confided in on different levels, and experiencing that in return. Even when things don’t work out, the good memories stay with you through your life. Those gifts are priceless.
Some people don’t believe in karma but I obviously do, or I wouldn’t have included the word in the title of this post! The concept of karma is explained through different religions, but the one I’m most familiar with is derived from Buddhist teachings.
In Buddhism, karma is just another way of talking about cause and effect. We plant seeds with our thoughts and deeds. Most importantly, motivation is what makes the difference between a “good” and “bad” action. Sometimes people do things that they want others to interpret as selfless or loving, when in fact the true motivation for their actions is the exact opposite. So sometimes we can reap bad karma even from actions that technically (on the surface) appear to be good.
Whenever I experience betrayal, hurt, or any other unpleasant reality, I now take the time to see how my own karma brought this to me. Obviously dwelling on it and obsessing is unhealthy. But if look back on the ways that I was thoughtless, selfish, and unkind, it’s really not a huge surprise when someone gives me this down the road. That is the karma I created for myself.
The one element of karma that does trouble me though is when little children — who have yet to even accumulate enough life experiences to generate any karma of their own — are abused and neglected. That is the part of karma I don’t get. Supposedly it’s because they created bad karma in their past life. In certain schools of Hinduism, they teach that “one must reap the fruits of one’s personal karma and one may need to undergo multiple births, incarnating variously as plant, animal, or human. Such fruits of karma may be analogized to a bank (i.e., God) not letting a person be released from karma’s effects until the bank account is settled.”
I don’t agree with this. It just seems too cruel. But if that’s the case, it makes the most sense for me to continue to do my best to treat others the way I want to be treated so that in this lifetime and the next I limit the amount of personal bad karma I create for myself.
My favorite example of karma is in one of the later scenes in “The Color Purple.” Near the end of the film, Celie finally has the courage leave her abusive “husband,” Mister.
Oprah summed it up better than I ever could:
â€œRemember physics class? Did you pay attention to Newtonâ€™s third law of motion? Let me tell you, that thing is real. It says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is the abiding law that I live by, articÂuÂlated to perfection by Miss Celie in The Color Purple when she finally gets the courage to leave her abusive husband, Mister. â€˜EveryÂthing you done to me already done to you.â€™ It is the Golden Rule to the 10th power.â€ â€” Oprah Winfrey, May 25, 2011
What I took away from this scene was that Mister believed Celie, deep down. He had his own struggles and pains. As a result, he took it out on everyone around him. After years of abusing Celie, her decision to finally leave him and that abuse did something to him. He started trying to set things right. It could never make up for what he did, but it did change his karma for the better. And if you notice, Celie’s strength inspired Sophia who’s experience in jail had killed the life in her. Celie’s actions transformed Sophia, brought her back to life and set her free.
In the book “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, Celie ends up developing a real friendship with Mister. She ultimately forgave him for the past and acknowledged his efforts to change. She saw him striving to reach his higher self, in his own way. She saw the “real” Mister and welcomed him back into her life.
It’s true, time can heal all wounds. Time can’t erase the past but it can provide enough distance to help you see what’s worth saving and what’s worth letting go.
All relationships are complicated — romantic, platonic, business — all of them. They change over time. Some last longer than others. But each is a chance to experience your higher self — the one we truly are.