The Ugly Truth About Karma

There were so many good times in my life, I was bound to step into some bad times. The world had only taught me how to laugh, but it knew it had to eventually teach me how to cry too.
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Karma really is a bitch. It isn't because what you do always has a knack for coming back to haunt you, but because karma, simply, is not true.

In Hinduism, karma is the concept that events happen in your life, whether good or bad, based on your previous actions or deeds. Good things happen to people who do good, bad things happen to people who do bad. Simple. Whether you call it karma or the Golden Rule, it serves the purpose of encouraging society to live moral lives. It makes you feel safe in this unpredictable life, as if there is some kind of cosmic justice in the world. But what makes my science-obsessed brain so easily manipulated by this view on spirituality, is that it is actually backed up by the laws of physics -- every action causes an equal and opposite reaction. So, basically, karma is pretty much the closest thing any religion has to fact. Right? Well...

I was a good one, one of the best ones, and I didn't even know it. I was the kind of girl who called her mom every morning; the kind who prayed and thanked God every night; the one with the perfect grades, the perfect friends, and the perfect memories. I had the undisputed (nauseatingly) perfect life, but I was destined for the worst -- destined for a fate that was beyond even the sickest of imaginations. I had definitely made my share of mistakes in life, but nothing, I mean nothing, that would be deserving of even a single moment of this hellish fate. Let's be honest, I was a pacifist nerd, who couldn't even hurt a fly. So, where is the karma in all of this?

When good things start happening to bad people, the truth behind this theory begins to show some cracks. But when bad things start happening to good people, this theory completely falls to pieces. Most hardcore karma enthusiasts will easily explain this all away by pointing out that karma is supposed to carry over from past lives. In other words, I'm paying for a crime I committed in a past life... Firstly, I can't even imagine a crime heinous enough to warrant this kind of torture. But more importantly, one isn't supposed to remember her previous lives and actions. What is the logic in paying the price now, for a past crime that you are not even supposed to remember? Karma is a great incentive for society in theory, but in reality, it doesn't properly explain the mysterious workings of the world. Before my stroke, I thought karma was the pure and simple answer to all my questions. Turns out when you're hit with tragedy, you end up with a lot more questions, and the answers aren't where you thought they would be.

So maybe, it's about time for a new theory. Staying with a scientific twist on spirituality, I believe the world is attempting to maintain a kind of equilibrium with each person. During the course of one's life, the world wants to balance out the good times with the bad, the sunny days with the rainy days, the laughs with the tears. In the book, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, author Jan-Philipp Sendker writes, "Life is a gift full of riddles in which suffering and happiness are inextricably intertwined. Any attempt to have one without the other was simply bound to fail." I lived 23 years of an insanely happy, easy, TV show-like beautiful life (think Rory Gilmore-ish). Just pulled a couple of all-nighters, and I was always at the top of my class. Just flashed a couple of pretty smiles, and I always had a line of genuine friends and charming suitors out the door. The "hardest" experience of my life was having to decide between going to Harvard, Princeton, or taking a full-ride to Duke. I mean, come on.

There were so many good times in my life, I was bound to step into some bad times. The world had only taught me how to laugh, but it knew it had to eventually teach me how to cry too. I'm now learning that it takes much more than good genes, good luck, and a couple of "good" all-nighters to achieve your dreams. It takes an insatiable drive, to do something more for yourself, an obsessive determination, to never settle for anything less than true happiness, and a Rafa Nadal type tenacity, to push through even the darkest times. I've slowly come to accept the fact that this hasn't been a punishment for a past crime, or even a curse for easing my way through life. But, by being so happy, I just had a lot farther to fall, when it came time to just, balance things out. What goes up, must come down. However, even if I have to defy gravity, this baby is coming back up.

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