Almost a year and a half ago, my life went through a serious change. I went from owning a house, having a job, and being seriously in debt, to having no debt, no house, and no job.
Fortunately, I had family to help me out. I moved into a room in a house filled with teenagers, elderly parents, and a very busy sibling. Even though I wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms, it was better than sleeping in a my car or on the street. But sometimes, I wish I had another option, because me coming here has disrupted their lives, affected my relationship with them, and seemingly driven us further apart than if I had not come here.
I’ll be the first to admit that much of the damage done has been my fault. Experiencing such a drastic change in one’s life can be daunting when we’re at our best. When we’re not, we take out our frustrations and unhappiness on those around me. I stupidly did that. But even when I tried to take steps to help, they have been taken wrong, dismissed, or ignored. Looking back on those first few months, and the time since, I wish I could have been a stronger person. I wish the members of my family who took me in could have been a little more understanding.
Looking back at all of it now, knowing that my situation, although greatly improved, will not change, and neither will they, has reminded of that cliché, about two wrongs making a right. It’s cool for some to spout that in real life, or for a vengeful hero of a book or movie to follow that coda. But in real life, two wrongs just add up to more wrong.
We carry a lot of baggage with us. Some of our baggage is more noticeable, and take up more room. But others have carry-on luggage that never leaves them. It could be called “petty” or “revenge”. This isn’t the kill-a-lot-of-people type of vengeance. It’s the kind that pops into your head when someone has slighted you in some minor, insignificant way. You see an opportunity to get them back. So you do it and you feel justice or karma has been re-balanced.
Nope. That’s not how it works, especially with karma.
In such situations, all you’ve proven is that you are no better than the other person. You are just as petty as they are.
As for karma, it isn’t a quick cosmic fix for a wrong done to you or anyone else. It is the quality of intention at the base of the mind. It is that quality rather than the outward appearance of that action that determines the effect. It is the sum of your actions through your life that determine your karma. Even if we have rough patches and act stupidly, if we see our mistakes and make an effort to change, then that is good for our karma. If we can’t see our mistakes, even if we continue an average to good life, those unseen mistakes affect us. That’s why it is important to understand ourselves, our actions, our motives, and ensure that they are as positive as we can make them.
Part of that begins with letting go of the baggage we carry. Even the carry-on stuff just wastes our time and our thoughts. In the long run, does it really matter that you were right if it disrupts your friendship or relationship with those around us? Ask yourself the next time someone makes a comment that you disagree with, or know to be wrong; for whose benefit is it that you correct them? Whose life are you improving? Theirs or your own? Debate is healthy, and can be fun. It allows you to solidify and clarify your own thoughts and beliefs. But to do so at the expense of another, especially if they are a friend, loved one, or colleague, does everyone a disservice.
The other day, a fellow classmate made a comment on a subject that I knew to be wrong. But instead of starting up an argument, I remained silent. If I were younger, or in a lesser mood, I might have had the argument. To what end? To getting irritated? Frustrated? It would have been pointless and may have caused anonymity between us.
There are times and places to speak up and make their voice heard. There are also times when it is for the wrong reasons. It is during these times that we reveal the baggage we carry. It is also when we show how little we think of those around us.
I had no true understanding of these concepts nearly a year and half ago. Neither did those around me. Today, for me at least, I am beginning to understand. There’s no shame in being wrong. Making mistakes is part of life. We must learn from them, and do what we can to not repeat them.
But if we ignore our mistakes, or continue to follow the belief of ‘two wrongs make a right’, either out of pride, some misguided need to maintain control of everything, or because of the petty, useless baggage we carry, then life will be a series of struggles and hardship.