Thursday, January 22, 2009

Putting Out Good Karma

I decided to check out the word “karma” since my family uses it all the time, particularly the expression “travel karma.” Colloquially, it can be expressed as “what goes around comes around” and that is pretty much how we understand it. Negative thoughts and motives as well as actions are palpable and influence everyone and everything surrounding you. Bad things happen to everyone, but how you deal with a bad thing can send out positive and uplifting energy. Bad intentions can be as deleterious as bad actions. People respond positively to love and understanding. We all are conscious that we will die and how we deal with each other in this short life transcends all our petty vices and mundane concerns in our day-to-day lives.

Obviously, I am feeling philosophical today about this past week, the inauguration, and the change that was promised :-). I think that so far, Barack Obama has begun putting out good karma from the highest level and there are signs that the effects of his actions are beginning to spread. They are just little things, like shushing Joe Biden when he began picking on Chief Justice John Roberts’ bungling of the oath. His speech had kind and respectful words thanking Former President Bush for his service, and I believe that, rather than indicting some of Bush’s policies as some have suggested, he was only trying in a no-nonsense way to point out how his administration would be different from the previous one. The transition seemed to be above pettiness in every way. John McCain stepping in to facilitate the approval of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State was another sign of good karma flowing in Washington. Considering the crowds at the inauguration and the frustrations of moving around Washington on Tuesday (see previous blog post) the celebrations were a tremendous illustration of what positive things can happen when large masses of people have good intentions. It is exactly the opposite of an angry mob. I was struck by the simplicity of Ari’s photo of the overflowing trash can. I have never seen anything like it before. People were obviously concerned with being unable to deposit their trash properly and for the most part, seem to have neatly stacked their litter around the wastecan so as not to deface the streets of DC. It remains to be seen if the good karma will continue to flow, or whether it will be overwhelmed by a deluge of bad intentions. Having watched Obama operate for the past few years, I think that he has mastered the art of responding to evil intentions and actions with inner calm and the desire to discover the right thing to do in a situation and then respond in an appropriate and positive manner.

I have been playing with food this week, my own personal way of creating good karma. With Saul’s right arm in a cast, we couldn’t eat out comfortably even if we had the opportunity. So the comfort of creating good meals at home has sustained me and kept me from feeling shut in. I am still enjoying my nest very much.

Today was especially exciting and filled with good karma. Ari called me this morning and said he had located a cheap flight to Israel on United Airlines beginning the week that Saul is on spring break. I told him that I thought that he and Saul should take this opportunity to go and that, if it was meant to be and would be possible, I would come at the last minute. Saul came home from school relatively early and they began to discuss making the trip and to work on getting the tickets. A few minutes after he arrived home, my friend and colleague, Laura, came to discuss some work with me and we sat at the kitchen table over the papers to lunch on the Manchego and membrillo, crackers, cashews, hummus, compote, carob cake, etc., that were some of the results of my foodie impulse this week. She brought me some perky daffodils, always creators of good karma. Then Marianne, Mom’s hospice volunteer arrived. At 1:15 p.m. Mom had not been up yet and we went in to wake her to see if she would join us all at the kitchen table. Marianne was able to coax her out to the table, but she only drank a half glass of orange juice and was not up to eating her warm bread pudding. After a few minutes, Darnice, Mom’s hospice aide, arrived to bathe her. Having introduced Marianne and Laura, I sat at the table with them while Mom went off with Darnice, and Saul began to discuss the possibility of the trip to Israel.

Marianne is a Holocaust survivor from Budapest who has a twin sister in Jerusalem, who, by the most remarkable coincidence, married Saul’s original rabbi from when he first came to the United States. Her sister had asked her to come to visit in February because there was an apartment available for her nearby at that time. She had demurred, having recently checked the expensive airline prices and worried about the economic situation here and her living arrangements in a nearby retirement community. She was incredulous at the price of the ticket, and we offered to arrange for a flight for her also. Within 15 minutes, thanks to the miracle of computers, all three of them are booked on a flight to Israel for one week, leaving at the end of February. Marianne fairly danced out of here, so excited to call her twin and tell her that she was coming after all. I sent Laura off with some foodie care packages for her husband, Marc, more good karma.

So despite all the bad things that have been going on this week—dealing with the cast, Mom’s worsening physical condition, having to stay at home, etc.—there is also a feeling of happiness, excitement and all-around good karma that resulted from dealing with bad situations with the best possible intentions.

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