I believe in karma.

Admittedly, I’m not a Buddhist, so maybe I’m not an expert on the exact definition of karma. But I believe in the basic principle that what comes around goes around. That if you try to put positive things out into the world, positive things will come back to you. Same is true for the negative.

About seven years ago, I had a job that required me to drive all over the greater Seattle area on a daily basis. I’d start my day at my company’s office in Redmond (a relatively posh suburb), then set off from there to whatever client’s office needed me. If I knew that my day’s agenda involved going through downtown Seattle, I knew there was a good chance that I’d pass a homeless person on the side of the road. I always felt guilty about just driving past them. Sometimes I’d give them a couple of quarters or whatever spare change I had in my car’s cup holder, but it never felt like enough. But with that job, I never carried cash on me (too risky), so what else could I do?

One day, when I heard I was going to be heading into Seattle, I stopped at the 7-11 next to my office to buy a Diet Coke before I set off. I decided to also grab a couple of other things – a sandwich and a bottle of water – to take with me. When I saw a frail old man standing at the end of the I-5 off-ramp with his cardboard sign, I rolled down my window and handed them to him.

Later that day, my boss called me into his office and gave me a raise. No lie. I was not expecting any sort of payoff that fast, but that’s how it worked for me. From that point on, I always stopped at 7-11 to get food for the homeless people I would pass, and those days always ended up being my best days. It became something of a habit for me.

In fact, I gave some sort of snack (I think it was just some peanut butter crackers that I happened to have in my laptop bag) to a homeless person on May 24, 2004. Later that evening, I had a first date with a cute British guy that had contacted me through match.com.

Yeah. That was Dave.

Now, is there some cosmic connection there, like would I have not met Dave (or would we not have “clicked” as much as we did) if I hadn’t given crackers to a homeless guy earlier that day? Probably not. Our date had been scheduled for a couple of days, I don’t think it had much to do with the homeless guy. But I like to think that the two things are related. That because I did a good deed, something good (in this case, Dave) came to me.

There are also times when I’ve tried to do something good for someone, and it’s backfired horribly. Either my motives were misinterpreted, or the person took advantage of my generosity and I was left feeling used and horrible. But for every one of those experiences, there are so many more where the rewards were a million times better than whatever my small gesture was.

I refuse to let the negative experiences make me cynical or jaded. I will not sacrifice my desire to help people who are truly in need, just because of a few “bad eggs.” If I honestly know that my motives are pure, then I have to believe that something good will result from it. Even if it takes me a while to see it, I have to believe that the positive is there, somewhere.

26 thoughts on “karma

  1. What a wonderful post.

    I’m much like you – I like to help, and to give. Sure, it sometimes bites me, but I try not to let it get me down.

    For every action, there is a REaction!

  2. I commend you for not letting the bad outweigh the good. That is a rare thing.

    I’m sorry people take advantage of someone with a good heart, like you.

  3. Good girl. I’m so glad you aren’t going to let the bad things make you hard. You are an amazingly generous and loving woman, stay that way mama!

  4. We send positive thoughts and actions into the world but we can’t control what comes back. All we can do is be true to ourselves and not let the bad change who we are. The positve does bounce back (just like the negative) sometimes it doesn’t happen on our timetable.

  5. Peanut Butter Crackers huh? Imagine who you could have ended up with had you not been so stingy and instead bought the poor guy a nice Subway or something.

    Just sayin’ 🙂

  6. Lol. When I worked in a town with parking meters all over the town center, I used to feed expired meters every day when I walked to get lunch. I was convinced that this prevented me from getting speeding tickets. 🙂

  7. Here is the rest of what I wanted to say before I discovered it wasn’t a good idea to try to comment via phone on bumpy bus.

    I am thankful for your good heart and spirit. The world needs more people like you.

  8. I too definitely believe in karma! Its the little positive things I do, that although minute… they are just that; positive. And that’s all that matters!

    You have a big heart sweetie.

  9. Yes, karma is a bitch, and you definitely can’t let one rotten egg spoil your good nature and givingness.

    I’m also a giver, and yes, sometimes it comes back to bite me in the ass, but those times are few and far between and the good memories totally outweigh the bad.


  10. WOW so so so true. I’ve always have been a “giver” and always will be. I love the feeling of helping people and knowing i’ve made even a little difference in their day. Sadly, there will always be people who take advantage of the “givers”. I’ve always loved the saying “Karma is a bigger bitch than I could ever be”.

  11. Your husband is british? Swoon… love the accent…

    I believe in karma as well. SOmetimes I feel like I do too much for others and get shafted myself- But I guess what goes around eventually comes around.

  12. I love this post. Everyone could learn from it. Especially since this started with a good gesture from your heart and not with motive. I’m glad you continue to keep your focus on the positive.

    I could definately learn to do the same.

  13. this is great and so true. like you, i refuse to let negative things that happen to me define me. you have a great outlook 🙂

  14. What a great story! Thanks for sharing it with everyone. It makes you stop and think about doing somthing good for someone else.

  15. What a great story! Thanks for sharing it with everyone. It makes you stop and think about doing somthing good for someone else.

  16. This is an awesome story. I think it’s the random acts of kindness that give you the best karma. Just a theory, but it seems to be true.

    Anyone who gives to homeless people is cool in my book. 🙂

  17. I loved this post! Exactly the kind of thing I needed to read on a day like this. You are so kind & generous & you deserve to have your actions returned to you tenfold.

  18. Funny, there were at least 2 or 3 times I was supposed to have met Cat, but didn’t (she was already friends with my sister). A few lousy crackers and it could’ve been different?

    Nice post. Tip well, God is a waitress.

  19. I hope everything is ok. Wonderful post but now I am troubled…can you message me ‘off-blog’ please?

  20. I hear ya. You’ve got to do what feels right in your heart and just hope that people don’t take advantage of your giving nature. You’ve inspired me to give a snack to a homeless person the next time I go to this intersection in town. It’s silly, but I’ve been nervous to do it before. But it’s never a bad thing to spread love & happiness!

  21. My man is a big giver to homeless people. I will if it is accessible, and prefer to give food, too.

  22. I love this post. I too believe you get back what you give. And I admire your ability to rise above the negative and look towards the next positive.

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