Karma Experiment

Ok. Last week when I asked the universe to surprise me, it pretty much gave me the finger. So my sister Lynne said that we should both throw some good karma into the mix and see if the universe decided to sweeten up a bit.

Here's what I did:

1. I secretly dropped off a beautiful tomato plant at the house of a friend who is having a hard time.
2. I showed kindness to my well-intentioned self by

Macarons - second setImage by esthereggy via Flickr

skipping out to see "The Hangover" with my IT department Paula Johnson.
3. I bought my family macaroons at Europane Bakery.
4. I told my beloved offspring that as long as she truly believed she had done her best, a C in English should be worn with pride.

Ok. Looking at this list now, it seems like I've been a little self serving in my universal good karma distribution system. I did get to see a movie. I did get a macaroon. But let's focus on the secret tomato-gifting -- as pure an act of altruism as you will find.

Now what about the universe? Has it held up its part of the bargain? Has it returned good intentions with good intentions? Hmmm. It's hard to say. I did hear one of my 10-year-old Girl Scouts say that her greatest fear was that someone she loved would get sick and die. That surprised me. That's a whole lot of weight for a ten-year-old to carry, but it's also a whole lot of wisdom. I saw an enormous dog with Christopher Walken eyes stick its head out the back of an SUV; I swear that dog smiled at me. And I did win a fabulous prize over at Pasadena Daily Photo.

Here's what I learned: Asking the universe to surprise you is really about asking yourself to be more observant and present in your own life. Alas, being observant means opening yourself to observing some ugly things, but those ugly things are part of life. When we witness them, we are reminded that the universe is not all about us. We are reminded that our personal pain is not so very unique, and it doesn't just belong to us. It belongs to humanity. It's all about compassion, baby. Ommm to that.

Here's the other thing. It is very hard to be observant and present in your own life. I think I managed it for three days. After that I just fell back into my bubble and switched to autopilot. Then I didn't notice much in the way of universal surprises. I just stayed on course, took no detours, made no discoveries.

So...which is better: the teeter-totter pain and joys of the observant life or the routine but familiar life of the autopiloted path? What do you think? And if you choose the observant life, how do you sustain it?

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Desiree said...

Very lovely--
I choose the observant life, sustained by liters of vodka.
Then some days I just take to my bed with a case of the vapors.
There is a lot to be said for the restorative powers of perfect macaroons.

Cafe Observer said...

That's quite a colorful Flicker pic set.

MF, I heard rumors that PDP's prize now has to be shared among the 8 winners - due to the economy.

Jean Spitzer said...

Observant, with large doses of cocoon thrown in. When it's just too much, books. (I read a lot.)

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

It's tough to stay present. You put the intangible to words in this Karma Experiment. You admitted your payoffs. I like that. It inspires me to do the same. What is it about admitting or just letting the universe know who we are? The universe already knows us, right? We are part of the dust. So, we're just telling the universe that we are on to ourselves.

I don't know if it's easier to hide. That takes energy, too. Maybe even more energy to manage the bubbling up of feelings too big.

I have an unreasonable fear of my inner nuke. Pass the medication/vodka, Desiree. This is why I meditate and ask the cosmos for help in directing this energy in ways that promote the end to suffering and the root of all suffering--oh wow that sounds like it could be taken the wrong way. You don't think the universe has misunderstood me this whole time? Has it?

Prof. M., I have an English related question: If 'universe' and 'cosmos' are not capitalized does it mean the writer believes there is more than one specific universe and cosmos?


Lynne said...

I love the results of our experiment! I think the surprises for your family are just as valid as the secret surprise tomato plant! Here's how my week went. I made jam, made a cute little oil cloth bag to hold the jars and dropped some at a friends, when I was at Chipotle I slipped a $10 bill in the tip jar, and I bought Kate a new dress (she gets an allowance so usually she has to buy her own clothes). I did not win anythin, like you did, but I had a wonderful week. Kate had her wisdom teeth out (yech) and it was supposed to take at least an hour because they needed to break the teeth to get them out, but it took 30 minutes, they came right out with no problems and everything went as perfect as could be. I got to sit around the house most of the week just watching Friends DVDs with my daughter!

Also, the universe knows I love to see weirdly dressed people and I saw a woman in a short denim romper with a wide, white, snakeskin belt at her hips, black nylons, and very high heeled green sandals. Also, she had an enormous, white scarf with pom-pom fringe! Her name was Olga and she was glorious!

Cafe Observer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cafe Observer said...

As an Observer, it's been my observation of course to choose the way of the monkish Observant life. You can choose what 2 observe & how 2 bee observant.

Lynne: we need 2 get u a Blogsite. You're uncontainable!

MH: it seems if the universe & cosmos have a capitol, then perhaps there is more than 1 u/c. That's just one k9's opinion.

I just observed your REBLOG link: oh, so that's what it does! It seems helpful, & certainly is a click/keystroke saver.

altadenahiker said...

Here's how the universe gifted me. I bought a dozen fresh eggs from someone in our co-op. The next day, a friend gave me a dozen eggs from chickens he has been raising. The next day, a neighbor gave me ten eggs from chickens she is raising. Today someone at the stable gave me eight eggs from his chickens. Anyone have a recipe that requires 40 (or thereabouts) fresh eggs?

Cafe Observer said...

40 eggs! - no receipe but is it Easter yet? Quik, KB, organize a blogger breakfast!

I have just to give a belated CONGRATULATIONS to my fav Goddess blogger, MF! (Where have I been?)

For: Posting her 1st pic of 2009, if not eternity, to appear on her FBA blog. She couldn't have done better than the easter egg colored french macaroons, which taste at least as good as they look.

Before she could eat unlimited sweets & stay thin, focused and neat as a freak -- yes, cookie-cut out for success. Now, the lady of so many words is into creating image. I think MF's experiment with this will only lead us to say, "Heaven help us."

Shell Sherree said...

You had me present and in the moment at 'macaroons', Margaret.

Anonymous said...

The observant life
So when did they start making Scooter Pies in color?


Margaret said...

Dez and Jean: You are both wise and witty.

Miss Havisham: You are very wise and deep. The inner nukes are very scary.

Lynne: You have given much more generously to the general good so only good karma for you. Poor Olga.

Pup: Yes, I tried out Zemanta on your recommendation. The picture part is helpful for a non-technical person like me.

AH: When the world gives you eggs, I guess you can either make an omelette or become the Easter bunny.

Shell: I know. Macaroons are a gift of the Buddha.

g said...


Vanda said...

Karin, invite friends over for brunch and make a very large omelet!

I believe in karma... scratch that, I will for karma.

The other day I possibly saved the life of a frog - I'll take a smiling dog in repayment.

Margaret said...

G: And these were really good Macaroons.

Vanda: I believe in Karma. And I know that frog thanks you for your good deed.

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Sun Singer said...

Observant, but with rest periods.


GreggDaniel said...

Hmm, this feels like a cosmic uncertainty principle. If we seek to contribute positive karma through acts of altruism, while expecting karmic payout, then our contribution ceases to be altruistic, and we might very well experience no positive feedback from the universe.

In the spirit of your post, I should mention that I love the Buddha approach: mindfulness without attachment. Observe but neither expect nor desire a particular outcome.

BTW...awesome post. You have a charming, thought-provoking corner of the internet. I love what you've done with the place ;)

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