Some years ago, a lovely new writer appeared one Saturday at the wooden kitchen table of our host’s home where we met regularly for critique group. A woman with long, blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes, who shared that she’d almost drowned.
Being washed into the Pacific undercurrent and sinking down, down, down, in this near death experience, she began to relive certain events in her life, but not from her point of view. She became her mother dealing with a rebellious teenage daughter; she landed in her lover torn to shreds and heartbroken.
She relived the emotions of those whom she had caused pain.
What a gift! Or, maybe, a curse.
This inspired me to wonder if we die the way we live. Death and karma. Was that lovely woman a selfish, thoughtless human, and her experience was to feel that pain she’d caused others?
If you’re a horrible human being, do you die a slow painful death? If you allowed kittens to suffocate, do you die gasping for breath?
I know someone who caused a lot of pain to others and he developed a disorder, later in life, in which every little bump would bruise and swell in painful edemas. A callous could glow into an infection. He spent the last years of his life in more pain that he might of caused.
However, I know plenty of lovely humans who have died in unfavorable circumstances. Certainly, that wasn’t karma.
I choose to move through this life causing as little pain and unhappiness as possible.
But it’s not because of the fear of death. It’s not even the fear of karma. There is so much pain and vexation in this world already – I don’t need to add any more to anyone’s life. I’d rather add laughter, happiness, joy. Not that I always succeed. This still is life.
I remember that woman from our critique group, her story, her presence because she yelled at me. Upon reading my story, the group began to respond. She became outraged and began gesticulating wildly. “You can’t write this. This will hurt people. You will pay for this. You can’t write this.”
I reflected on this and asked the group – after she was removed by our host – does my story lack empathy?
I attempt to create characters and stories that express the range of human emotions, the best of which teeter on the axis of sympathy and empathy. My writing partners and my readers believe I’ve achieved that.
I believe in karma in some sense. I believe what we put out there, we receive back in one way or another. Maybe death is random. Maybe not.
Thank you for reading. Be well.