Karma?

This story is interesting. One to puzzle over. I have no direct involvement in the situation – I’m just one of the (semi) outside, curious observers.

In my community, someone who was fairly well known was accused of a theft, an ongoing theft actually. The accusations were documented, not off-the-cuff or with no evidence. In fact there was video footage. I did not see the footage – nor was there any reason I would – but a number of people saw it and all who did agreed on what was on it. I know some of those individuals and have no reason to doubt what they reported. If they say they saw a theft on the footage, multiple thefts, I believe them.

Curiously, despite the evidence and the “eye witnesses” many people doubted that a theft occurred, and yet another contingent essentially said, well if it DID happen, it was justified. That fascinated me. The person at the center was a somewhat controversial figure to start with – the opinions held about this individual were mixed. This person wasn’t universally loved prior to the theft accusation. That’s important to mention because the incident seemed to serve to further polarize people in their views; many used the situation to justify opinions they already held. Perhaps some changed their thoughts, but most of those talking publicly – online – stuck to their guns be it for or against.

Although the police were consulted and their advice taken in gathering evidence, the central players decided not to take legal action but essentially to cut ties: Let’s just go our separate ways, we’ll all move on and this will be over.

That might have been the end of it but for a new weird twist. The person accused of the theft won a bunch of money, a substantial amount. Oh my gracious. Now some people were saying this event was karma. The win was taken as EVIDENCE of something. The person accused of the theft had been badly treated, they thought, by being accused and cast out, so in their minds the universe was righting a wrong. (No doubt others were thinking, “Great, now they can pay back the money! The thought certainly crossed my mind.)

I found this all very strange. I mean on the one hand, stealing is an act, a choice someone makes (independent of what their reasons are and/or whether or not anybody else might find them valid or excusable in some fashion). Winning money on the other hand, is random. However, because the two events happened so close together, a group of people were inclined to find them related even when there was no evidence one had anything to do with the other. I wonder how much time between the two events would have to have passed to make them unrelated in most people’s minds? 6 months? A year? 5 years?

And – too often people apply the theory of karma only when it suits them. But it seems to me if you’re going to believe in karma you’d have to apply it more universally (and even to bad things and EVEN to bad things that happen to you).

It isn’t that I don’t ever use the word karma or don’t think it is at work at times. But I can’t buy in wholesale. For example, innocent children get abused and sometimes killed by their guardians or parents; how on earth could karma be found there? (The child brought it on themselves somehow?? Their ancestors screwed up and this is karmic justice? No way.)

Yet another twist to this story has occurred. The person accused of the wrongdoing has gone into business, one which will be direct competition for the original group that decided to cut ties and not pursue legal action. I really don’t know what to think about this.  Very strange indeed.

Overheard in the grocery store

Customer: Should you be putting the cherries that were on the floor back on the shelf?

Employee: Yeah. They’re going to get washed anyway.

Suddenly I was glad I don’t like cherries. And thinking that buying a bottle of “vegetable wash” might not be quite the needless and frivolous purchase I’d always presumed it was…

 

Let’s make a smallish outdoor dining table!

I was in the mood for a project this week. In the summer I put up a seasonal screen tent because the mosquitoes are god-awful and there’s no other way to be outside. I’ve used small tables in it which are fine but I was thinking it’d be nice to have something larger for a “dining” table, but not TOO large because there just isn’t space. Tables like I had in mind aren’t cheap and sticking to my usual policy of finding castoffs or making stuff, I thought maybe I could make something from the limited scrap wood I had on hand. The lumber I have is almost all wood that other people have tossed out; I very rarely have bought any from an actual store. So I usually try to work with what I have – I like stretching my mind that way and I do think it’s better than going out and buying stuff if I can avoid it.

I don’t trouble myself with looking up instructions or using intimidating “plans” – I wing my projects and learn from doing. As I said, I was going to use what what I had in my scrap wood, which wasn’t much, but I had an idea! I had made the little table but it was never quite as sturdy as I’d have liked and I was no longer using it anyway. Here’s the raw parts.

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First I made the outer frame. While I’ve never made a large table, I’ve looked at them and know that most have a square or rectangular frame on which the top of the table sits.

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Then I knocked apart my old little table to use the legs. Here they are attached. As you may see from the holes, they started life as some sort of IKEA furniture, which somebody later threw out. I just faced the sides with holes toward the inside.

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Since I only had little boards I came up with the idea of addng a middle support so I could use 6 small boards for the top. Here are the boards in place.

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Paint was going to be of the essence. I have a small collection of paints, most of which were free, either found by the road (this community tosses out A LOT of stuff) or given away by someone. This one color was so loud I wasn’t sure what I’d ever use it for but this seemed perfect. Here is one coat. I thought this color would look great contrasted with white on the legs.

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The next morning I applied another coat and clear spray gloss to the top only to help preserve the paint. Not that I think this table will last forever but just to help sustain it

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Here it is in its new home.

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I had used the legs “as is” because I was disinclined to have to handsaw those thick pieces but I could see the table was too tall. I’d left open the possibility of making it shorter (in terms of where I’d nailed on the low support pieces on either end) so I sawed off about 2.5″. Much better! (I decided to only take off a little at first lest I accidentally end up with a coffee table!)

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Oh, I should mention the bench in the photo is an old “reclaimed” bench I fixed up and the chairs were also – what else but – roadside freebies.  They aren’t exactly what I’d like (I had nicer chairs that wore out) but they are okay for now. Eventually I want something comfier again.

A day or so later I was having my “inaugural” snack at the table when it occurred to me you might like to see that. So here is a glass of homemade tomato juice and a bowl of salted peanuts in the shell. It happened to be a very hot day and it was delightful! I was so tickled with the table.

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I tend to accomplish things in spurts and when I get ideas they build on each other plus I have Serious Spring Fever. I had two little outdoor wood tables found by the road last year (I took the best two of several that were tossed). I had painted one this light green but decided to perk it up. Here is the change between the colors.

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The other little wood table is kinda shabbier and the wood is not as nice and I decided to just paint its top the same red/orange as my new “dining table”.

IMG_20170517_072458_kindlephoto-7948172I don’t know if it’s worth the trouble to paint the legs since as I say the wood is disintegrating. But what a difference even a little paint made!

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I also added fresh paint to the top of this little metal table because it was looking a bit down in the mouth. This “moss green” spray paint was another freebie someone tossed out. What a pretty shade.

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Whoooooo?

I was perusing the weekly newspaper coupons when I saw what appears to be a creepy-looking owl in a cheap suit sporting a monocle and peddling allergy medication.

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Here he is in a second ad.

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This picture is more disturbing with that outstretched hand no longer holding the product.

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In case you’ve forgotten or are uncertain, this is what actual owl “hands” look like. Owl hands are for grasping unsuspecting or slow-moving prey. They don’t look like moldy used gloves. Mr. Owl’s hands in the ad copy are peculiar because they aren’t quite human hands and they aren’t quite owl talons. I mean he’s not even going to be able to pry his way into the surely vault-like packaging on all such pharmaceutical products, the kind that might be assisted by a decent pair of talon-like hands.

Even if we get past the bizarre outfit (used car salesman suit and monocle) why would an owl hock allergy medication? Not because owls suffer from seasonal allergies surely. Because they’re “wise”? Perhaps if I saw a TV ad for this product some of my questions would be addressed. Then again… Whoooooo indeed.

Short Thought 186 (Dollar Tree)

Maybe I go to Dollar Tree too much a lot.

I was in a Ross Dress store this week when a random woman in the kitchen gadgets aisle said that she was looking for plastic fruit and thought she’d seen it previously in Ross. Well, I didn’t know about any plastic fruit in Ross but I could tell her Dollar Tree had plastic fruit like limes and lemons. Not only could I tell her that Dollar Tree had them but I knew what aisle she could find them in (the one with the bags of rocks for sale).

For the record I have never purchased the plastic fruit at Dollar Tree. I merely admire them.

Is self improvement worth it?

We are all going to die with flaws and faults. Chances are they will be the same ones we started out with or developed early in life.

This occurred to me this morning as I was thinking about the idea of “working on” your problems. You can work and work and work but you still will die with them, or at least some of them.

Nobody gets to the end line perfect. A fully formed, totally evolved, fabulous human being.

And yet. And yet. There is a kind of Western mythology, or at least American one that suggests or insists perfection is attainable. One must “face their fears” and “conquer their demons” and “challenge themselves” ad nauseam. But why? Will there be a big prize? Oh I guess you might say that there would be indirect prizes of a kind. A better life perhaps, or a more successful career and better relationships. Maybe. Or perhaps pride in having mastered a personal weakness; it does feel good to overcome one.

Maybe what’s bothering me is this. It is other people who invariably set the standards the rest of us are supposed to achieve so far as how we need to be. A lot of the ideas in my head, particularly on this subject, are not my own. I would have never come up with the idea that you must face all your fears and defeat them head on. Oh hell no! My philosophy almost certainly would have had something to do with getting as far away from your fears as possible. You could send them a postcard occasionally but cozying up to them on purpose? No, I would have not have thought of this. And yet this notion about facing your fears is in my head. Stuck.

Here in mid-life I have a pretty good handle on who I am. What my strengths are, what my weaknesses are. I’d be a liar if I told you I wasn’t an advocate of self-improvement because I’ve worked hard to improve a number of things in myself. But they were and are things I want to improve, things I find valuable and that stemmed from A LOT of thought and reflection. My point is that so many messages I get from outside of me about how to live and how to be don’t jive with my own thinking. You (i.e, the culture) may want me to improve in ways that have little value to me.

American thinking is so damned gung-ho. If you just work at it, by gum, you can outfox all your problems, flaws, and weaknesses and achieve a kind of personal nirvana and ride the Success Train through the rest of your days. What kind of nonsense is this? Who really does this? I don’t know anybody who is flaw-less. And complicating matters is that the person you think is a fabulous human being could be somebody I think is a shmuck. And vice versa. In fact, I’ve noticed that any number of people deemed popular/successful – whether in the micro world of my personal life or in the macro world of the larger culture and populace – are not people who especially impress me.

Okay, here’s another thought, my own. That the way to develop yourself as a human being is to find the right balance between being selfish and giving. This matters because too many of the ways a person is supposed to become more evolved, it seems to me, are by doing things they don’t want to do, things that are hard for them (re: conquer your demons, face your fears, etc). If they were being selfish, they wouldn’t do them, and maybe selfishness, a degree of it, has its place. Selfishness can be a kind of self-preservation. The word has a bad rap but it’s typically meant to embody the people who are excessively so, negatively so. On the other hand people who give too much or needlessly self-flagellate can stand to be a little more selfish.

And if I may – it often seems that the people most genuinely interested in improving themselves and working on their flaws are the ones least in need of it. In my life I’ve known plenty of jackasses, losers, fools, and lousy human beings who had absolutely NO interest in improving themselves and “working on” their faults. Oh, it’s true, that by and large, they were a pretty wretched bunch who will never know true happiness or peace but I don’t think they could see that whatsoever (in their books they are miserable because of OTHER people so there will never be any getting through to them so far as “working on tbemselves” anyway). [The semi-exception: The person who pretends to “work” on himself and learns to parrot phrases, such as the wife abuser who can now say things like “I need to take responsibility for my feelings” and “nothing justifies what I did to her” while secretly still believing in his heart she had it coming and if she just didn’t provoke him so much on purpose he wouldn’t beat her.]

It’s like the wrong people care about improving themselves. Or if that’s going too far, there’s a cohort that worries too much or at least out or proportion to their “sins”. So maybe that’s my point. Or one of them.

Working on problems, flaws and weaknesses is a good thing. But – assuming we’re not harming anyone or bothering anybody – they should be the ones that we want to do, the ones we find worthy. Not merely what we’re to!d.