According to Princeton, Karma is “(Hinduism and Buddhism) the effects of a person’s actions that determine his destiny in his next incarnation.” I dont practice Buddhism or the like, but I do believe that our actions come full circle and that goodness is repaid in some way or another in the future. “Pay it forward” is a phrase that I like to think of in conjunction with Karma because this more accurately describes my approach on everyday interactions with the people I come in contact with.

I cant say when I really adopted this concept or began to truly consider it to be relevant in the world, but its been on my mind a lot more lately in light of recent events. I would have to believe that this behavioral characteristic was planted by my parent’s teachings, grew throughout my life backed by family and schooling, then truly became ingrained in my psyche as a member of the Air Force. The teachings, though in different phases of my life and from different teachers, all suggest the same commonality; “be good, do good.”

It seems to me that people inherently are “good.” To what degree this is true, I cannot say, but I think that it is an innate characteristic of human nature to strive for acceptance and to be liked. I feel that if more people realized this about themselves then the world could be a little better of a place. (Im so idealistic right now. I should be eating granola as I write this.)

This week my small town had to bury one of those truly good people in Patrick Bachtell. One week ago a family lost a loved one and a community lost one of its hardest working, most giving members. After hearing all the stories about Patrick and his nature of giving, it made me think that we should all be so lucky to have people stand up and praise our lives. Hopefully this doesnt have to happen at your funeral or mine for that matter. Maybe if you live right and give unconditionally, people will say this about you while you are around to hear it. When I say “you” Im not pointing fingers, its meant to be everyone; me, you, and all those that would care to read my babble.

I dont know if it was because I had heard so much good that he had done or if I was just in a good mood, but I gave $20 to a complete stranger today. Let me give you some context before you think me crazy or naive. I rode the bus from Bmore to NYC today and on the trip, sitting behind me was a girl named Rachel. If you read anything about my bus trips or plane rides before, you would know that I dont indulge in single-serving friends and keep to myself on these types of trips. I work on the computer, I read a book that should have been finished by now, or I drool uncontrollably on myself then snort awake with a laugh. This is how 90% of my trips alone go. Today I did a little of all the aforementioned, but was taken back by the girl behind me as she realized she had no wallet, which meant no money, and no way to get to Long Island to see her friends. Imagine being stuck in a city you dont know and without a dollar to your name. She leaned up, prefaced her question with, “you are going to think Im crazy, but…” and told me what happened. She left her wallet in her car at the park and ride in Bmore. The look in her eyes said it all and when she asked for the $11 it took to train to Strong Isle, I simply handed her a $20. I do not pretend to be a rich man, in fact, I was looking forward to that $20 going to groceries this week, but I figured that it couldnt hurt to help someone out.

We exchanged information and she assured me a check would be in the mail by Monday when she returned home to Baltimore. I could see the relief in her face as we got off the bus, walked the couple blocks to Penn Station where her train was, and parted ways. We waved to each other, she told me so enthusiastically “Thank YOU!” and disappeared into the crush of people emerging from Penn Station. She deemed me good on Karma for the next couple of weeks so I was feeling pretty high on life. I couldnt help but smile as I skated down 32nd to the Path. “What a random encounter,” I kept thinking, but it felt good to give without knowing what the true outcome would be. I would like to think that her weekend now gets back on track without the stress of being stranded in the Big Apple, she has fun with her friends from college this weekend, and returns home to Baltimore safely. Interesting way to to kick off my weekend.

It felt good to help someone in need. Now maybe its time we all do a little more of this. Dont do it bc I suggested it, do it for yourself. Do it for the truly good people that are taken too early, leaving this world with one less incredible person to pick up the rest of us when we are down or in need. Pay some forward.

  1. November 2, 2010 at 14:27

    and her name was rachel, too. pretty crazy.

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