I believe in karmic down payments. I believe when something bad, or slowing, or irritating happens, how you handle it is part of you paying back or paying forward something good that will happen. I almost always feel like I’m behind in my karmic down payments–more good things happen to me than bad, and I am grateful for a whole slew of internships, fellowships, and relationships which have helped me grow.
But then comes a day like today. My plans to go rock climbing with friends were subsumed by a fussy work obligation which jumped on me this morning and took three times longer than I had hurriedly allotted for it. Then I couldn’t find my bike. And I had a heavy bag.
And as I dragged two moving carts across campus (part of my evening obligation), I reminded myself this was paying back the world for nice things happening to me, like getting married, having a brilliant mother, brother, step-father and dad, and my grandparents doing well.
It didn’t work; I still felt sulky and itchy in my work-polo and sweaty in the compressed humidity which is Pittsburgh’s autumn.
Once I got home, on the bus, since the bike is still missing, I sat in a corner and pouted. I realized I was sitting on a hardwood floor: my hardwood floor. The cultivated quiet and safety of my house started to fill me, calm me; remind me what I’m grateful for.
Earlier today, before it got really tiresome, I was feeling behind in my karmic down payments. I decided to do something to pay my karma forward. As we say in California, I began sending good energy out into the world. I connected a few job-seeking friends with recruiters I know, set up appointments I’d been avoiding, replied to mean emails kindly.
Karmic down payments and paying it forward are not about balancing a celestial scale, but about praying with your feet. Keeping on going through terrible days and putting a hand back for people who are struggling behind. A friend’s gymnastic coach says:
“You can’t tell who’s an athlete and who’s not on good days; everyone can work hard on good days. You can tell on a bad day, when some folks stop and some just keep slogging on.”
Today I am just slogging on, and hoping day’s karmic down payment is for something really good.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”–Winston Churchill
Note: I’m of course using a sort of pop-culture vision of what karma is, but light-weight though it may be, it still has impact for me.