My karmic balance has been restored.
It had been eating away at my very sould, gnawing away at a clump of my mind for over a week now and I just coudn’t shake the feeling of guilt that had settled weightly upon on my shoulders.
I must’ve been having a bad day, I must’ve been tired, and simply I misplaced my head. It might have explained what I did but it did not excuse it.
There I was on the bus, coming back after a day out, and an old woman boarded the bus. Next to me there were three young guys who too saw the old lady and how clearly she wanted to sit down. Not one of them made any move or showed any intention to get up. The instinct to stand up for her shot through me like a bullet, but I bit down the urge saying that I got on the bus first and that it was the men’s job to stand up – not mine.
That didn’t stop me from repeatedly kicking myself as soon as she shuffled away towards the back of the bus looking for a seat that would only come 5 minutes later. It’s not like I was going that far on the bus, I could have easily stood up. And yet.
I know my mother raised me better than this, that I have better manners, and that I should not let the by-stander effect affect my life and my descisions. But on this day, it did. And I am ashamed that I did not. It’s a simple thing that can go a long way. A pay it forward effect. Smile at a stranger, stand for the lady on the bus.
And to whit, it has been this reason that I feel my karmic balance has been off kilter in the last week. Maybe I am being a little superstiticous, but I feel that the blisters I’ve earned from practice this week on my feet, leaving me limping along for a day or two, are karmic retribution.
My friends here say that I have to thicken my skin, that I have to be able to stand it, that yes you got on the bus first and that’s how Paris runs.
But simple because “that’s how it is”, doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna fight against it.
And today, finally I had my opportunity.
Coming back from class I was waiting for the bus to leave and an elderly couple, the man clutching an ice pack to his check followed by a lone old woman whose hands were shaking (from what I can only assume to be Parkinson’s) boarded the bus. The seats had all been taken. And after waiting a beat to see if any one else would stand up – naturally no body did – I decided that I would be the lone cavalier in this situation. Without hesitation I stood up and gestured towards the woman, who asked the man first since he was in what appeared to be a post dental surgery situation, to sit down.
The man politely refused and the lady sat down, relieved. As the man looked at me and nodded a silent “Merci” on his lips, I felt the blush work it’s way up my neck as I nodded briefly as if to say, what else could I do? It’s the only polite and correct thing to do, even as every one looked at me from the sides of their eyes and I tried to play it cool, fiddling with my ipod.
As we got off the bus I made eye contact with the woman, and she had a small smile and a thank you in her eyes, and I felt that finally the universe had settled back into it’s groove.
My karmic balance is restored and any one else who claims that it’s not a big deal not to stand up for an elder can kindly shove off because from now on, I will always – should the situation arise – stand up for the old woman on the bus.
I swear Karma is the real deal and it feels great not to have this burden and guilt weighing on me anymore.