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Secret Life of Nerd Girl: 25 Cents For Your Karma


a blogumn by Gudrun Cram-Drach

The other day, as I walked down a parking meter lined street, staring at the ground like a surly teenager, I saw a quarter on the sidewalk. Sometimes it pays to sulk.

I thought about picking it up, but then reasoned that it would be good karma to leave it there for someone else to find. In that type of situation I feel it is my moral duty to figure out what is “best” to do, then do it. Walking away, I complimented myself for my 25 cent deposit into the karma bank.

quarterBut then I stopped. The quarter was heads up. Doesn’t that mean it’s lucky?

“All day long you’ll have good luck.”

That’s 25 days of good luck!

I have to look after myself, don’t I? Even if it is superstitious.

Then I wondered, is it sillier to follow superstition or believe in karma? But then, some people might consider karma superstition.

I mean, I don’t really believe in superstition, but I enjoy acting out some of the rituals: I don’t walk under ladders, I look people in the eye when I clink glasses, I never light a third match, I lift my feet when I drive over train tracks, I always knock on wood, and I throw salt over my left shoulder after a spill

I don’t, however, have a problem with black cats, opening umbrellas inside, or broken mirrors, and I officially stopped holding my breath while passing cemeteries last year.

Karma, on the other hand, is great. I’m not talking about the official spiritual karma, which I won’t pretend to know anything about, I’m talking about doing something nice because it’s “good karma,” or getting something unexpected and thinking it came to you through karmic retribution.

It can be a useful factor in decision making, if the pros and cons are equal, for instance, to solve the riddle of whether to leave a quarter on the sidewalk. Or sometimes it’s a good way to convince myself to do a good deed for which I can’t expect retribution, I know karma will get me back one day.

Conversely, the fear of bad karma keeps me honest on a day-to-day level. If I ignore a tip jar in a coffee shop that says “tipping is good karma,” it haunts me all day. Have I just destined myself to be reincarnated as a slug? Over a dollar?

Maybe it’s just a reminder to be nice, even if we don’t want to. Put good energy into the universe and hope the universe will take care of us.

We can always count on the universe.

I find it difficult to swallow the idea of a singular higher power who’s in control of everything, so the idea of “the universe” speaks to me.

The universe is behind you, my yoga teacher said, it will agree with you. If you walk around saying “I suck,” the universe will say “yes, you suck, I support you sucking and I will do what I can to help you suck even more.” Obviously the idea is to walk around believing in yourself, and the universe will support you in ways you never expected. The interesting thing about this is, the universe is so vast and intangible, yet it functions on such a personal level that it has your back.

What does this have to do with a quarter on the sidewalk?

I considered the “current economic climate” (ugh! if I hear that phrase one more time…), and debated over making the long term karmic investment of leaving the quarter, or going for instant gratification and taking 25 days good luck for myself. I decided it was every woman for herself, and I took the quarter.

That night I went to a movie. When the lights came up I looked down at the carpet and there was a quarter.

Tails up.

You see that? The universe supported my decision to take the good luck and, knowing that I was conflicted about it, offered me another chance to spread good karma. Isn’t it just amazing?

So I left the quarter, and before I was even out of the theater I wondered if I’d just given someone else 25 days of bad luck.