I ate a cold dill pickle this morning and choked on it for 6 long seconds, staggering around my classroom, before tiny Angie Chin pounded my back with karate chops and I finally retched it up, launching the thing flying across the classroom where it landed on top of the class copy of Romeo and Juliet that Merril was reading. I found my breath, calmly paced a few laps, apologized to Merril and scooped the still-cold pickle off her book, thanked Angie for saving my life, and then gave them both ten thousand points toward their grade. Blake objected. He thought it was wrong for me to give “A”s to people who just happened to be in the right spot at the right time. He thought that witnessing my choking, staggering, dying self was traumatic and emotionally scarring and that everyone who was affected should receive extra points as well. But I explained that the law of Karma did not entitle mere observers to anything–even if he was scarred for life–because the scarring belonged to his own internal, imagined response to the event and not, as with Merril’s and Angie’s, a participating, event-changing response that changed the external conditions of the world. Blake said that my definition of Karma was incomplete and subjective because I did not take responsibility for the unintended consequences of my actions and that perception was reality and his world had been changed whether I acknowledged it or not. I told him that his invigorating logic was its own response that altered my understanding of the principles of Karma and that this was worth a thousand points. He insisted that his comment was worth two-thousand, but we settled on fourteen hundred. He’s still failing, the little shit.

Karma Chameleon


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