I'm not Buddhist, but I somewhat believe in karma; I do believe that doing good things will lead to good things happening to you - it is logical to believe that if you help others, that they might help others, who might help others, etc, until someone is helping you...so the good deed you do might come around in a circle to where it began.
My son mentioned 'good karma' last month when we standing in line outside a particular electronics store at 7:45am, with 50-60 other people hoping to be given a ticket to buy the Nintendo Wii. We were told they had 40 tickets to give out. By our count, there were 38 people in front of us (each person only gets one ticket). We watched the store employee handing out the tickets at 8:30am, slowly making his way towards us, the pile of tickets getting smaller and smaller. We started to think that maybe we miscalculated our count...and sure enough, we watched as he gave out the last ticket to someone two spaces in line ahead of us. You could feel the sadness in my sons body as we watched the 40 people in front of us smiling and laughing and walking back to their cars, their tickets secure in their hand, oblivious to the frustration of the other 20 people who walked away empty-handed (the tickets are given out two hours before the store opens).
We just stood around for a bit, watching everyone walk away, talking about how close we were...when a car pulled up to us. It was a woman and her two sons who I had very briefly talked to while counting heads in line just after we got there. She asked if we got a ticket and then said that her sons each got one and decided they would just share and she had an extra ticket if we wanted it. My son was instantly on Cloud 9 and, after thanking them repeatedly, we headed back to our car, oblivious to all around us. My son turned to me with the biggest smile possible and said, "This is because of your good karma!!"
We had recently been looking at the number of volunteer hours we've logged throughout 2006. As a 13 year old, he did really well, I think, with 30 hours. That's an average of over 2 hours a month. From talking with the parents of his friends, I've never heard of any of the other kids volunteering ever, much less on a regular basis. (I invited a few of them to volunteer with us before and have gotten a very unenthusiastic response). I logged 99 hours for the year. Between us we donated 123 hours of manpower towards various causes. And THAT led to the good karma that led to my son being a ticket-holder for a Wii....or so we like to think!
Back in 1996, I was in the midst of moving to college. I was moving across the state on my own with a four-year old and two cats. The car was absolutely packed, the trunk barely closed, the back seat full-complete with pillows stored in the back window, the cats had a small kitty box on the floor, my son had stuff by his feet..it was a FULL carload. As we're almost halfway through our journey across the state, the car starts to shake. At first, just the slightest amount that I assumed was the road. I changed lanes on the freeway, and the shaking got worse, not better. I got back in the right lane and slowed down a bit, but this only caused the shaking to get still a bit worse.
I kept getting slower and slower, knowing there was a rest stop ahead. The shaking got worse and worse so that by the time I drove the mile or so down the freeway, I was on the side of the road with hazards on, creeping along. I actually pulled over and checked for a flat, but there was none.
I got to the rest stop and did what comes naturally--popped the hood and went out to look for...something. My car knowledge is probably higher than most girls. My dad has worked on cars my whole life and I've never had a problem getting dirty..but diagnosing most engine problems is beyond my scope of knowledge. Next step in my crisis management, call dad. My dad's response was--it's your tire, not your engine. He told me to get the jack out, go around the car and jack up each side and give each tire a spin. He was pretty certain that I would see something wrong with one of them...however, I was still stuck at the point where he told me to get my jack out. Did I mention I was moving?? The trunk was F.U.L.L.
So--back to the car, close the hood, pop the trunk. Continue staring. Not exaggerating--FULL trunk!!
Meanwhile, I have a four-year old with me, not content to sit in the stuffy car with the scared and crying cats, not content to stay right next to me while I try to appear as if nothing is seriously wrong, though I had my doubts at that moment.
The rest stop had a "free coffee" stand run by some VFW group or some such group. One of the men from the group was smoking nearby and watched me go from the open hood to the phone to the trunk and then stare mindlessly at the over-flowing amount of goods between me and my jack/spare tire. He came over and started talking about the problem and then he walked around the car, took a minute to rub his hand around each tire and then pointed out that there was a huge bubble on the inside of one wheel. He then took a minute to tell me a few horror stories about tires that burst and how lucky I was that it didn't explode on the freeway. This wonderful man, probably in his late 60's, went to his own car, got the jack and proceeded to take the tire off. The conversation while he was doing all this moved to why is my car so full, where am I going to college, if I was married, did I have family nearby...and then he said, "I have a son who lives at the next exit-I'm going to run to his shop and take care of this. Just sit tight with your little one." And then he left.
On a side note, just after I met my new friend, a car full of teenagers pulled up in the rest stop and my son went running over to them. It was four boys I knew from the business I shared my ex-husband the year before, they were regulars and knew us well. They were on their way home from some camping trip and actually stayed at the rest stop until I was on my way again, keeping the four-year old occupied, playing tag and ball with him while I tended to the car problem! These were TEENAGERS. Being nice. For NO reason!! I love it.
My new older friend came back with a nice and new shiny tire for my car. He came back and put it on my car before I even noticed he was there...and told me that his son owns a tire store in the small town down the road and to consider this an early college graduation gift. He wished me good luck in college and with my son and refused to take any payment of any kind.
How does that happen that you find someone so willing to help you, so selfless, so compassionate, just when you are most in need? Is that a coincidence or fate? I have had a number of people in the last year who have asked me why I volunteer so much...and this is exactly the reason. People have helped me, I need to help others. I don't ever think about making atones for all the help I've received, I just know first-hand the feeling I had when this stranger not only took the time to help me (it was about 2.5 hours out of his day), but he involved his son (who had to go open the shop on a Sunday afternoon) and his wallet (tires aren't free). I want to provide others with that same feeling of having someone help them in their time of need, when they think they are alone in the world and nothing will ever go right for them...I want to be a difference in the life of someone for no reason other than it's the right thing to do.
The world would be an amazing place if everyone felt the need to help other people for no reason other than kindness!