I'm at the beach with a friend who insists she will walk on the sand, will chill in the pool, will play volleyball and Frisbee, but will not be getting in the ocean. (Her statement was more like, "I'm not walking into something if I can't see the very bottom of it. Hell no. I'll stay on the shore and watch you get eaten by a shark, thank you very much.")
Fast forward half a day, factor in a pool that feels like a warm community bath and brand new boogie board... I had my dear friend in the ocean nearly up to her shoulders.
We were enjoying the gentle movement of the cold water when a giant wave rushes in from nowhere and completely topples me. I mean, when I finally emerged from the water I had seashells in my matted hair, sand in my teeth and that god awful burning sensation in my nose.
I suppose it's my clumsy nature. My friend, who was somehow prepared for this monstrous wave and remained upright and untouched, all the while laughing her pretty little ass off, called it karma for me forcing her into the ocean. "Karma's a bitch, baby."
So, that got me thinking... Karma is actually kind of like the beach.
Life isn't out to get me (or you) any more than the beach is. Certain elements simply exist, and your actions and motivations factor in right along with the actions and intentions of everyone else.
The same water that knocked me off my butt is the water that lulled me to sleep that night. The sun that made my body glisten way before I reached the water is the sun that took my breath away early the next morning as it peaked over the horizon. The salt that made my skin dry and burned my eyes actually helped to heal a cut on my ankle.
Sure, the elements seemed vicious at times, and they even altered slightly based on time of day, but really it all came down to me... my actions, needs and desires.
While I was on the beach, I loved it. But it wouldn't take too long before I felt completely wiped out (haha!) and needed a break. Barely into my break, I no longer felt drained but desperate to get back on the beach... A cycle that is a shocking parallel to how I live my life.
Like karma, the beach cannot be controlled as a whole. But it can be influenced in your own little experiences based on how you treat it... Loosely translated karma means "for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first (sort of like the effects of the waves on the sand), and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant according as its cause was skillful or unskillful."
Like the beach, karma is a beautiful thing. It allows us to let go of our focus on the actions and intentions of others and instead take responsibility for ourselves.