We are the architects of happiness…

It’s true, karma.  I go round ‘n round with it (no pun intended) because I’m impatient with a short fuse (and very human), but part of my core beliefs are rooted in this basic law of moral causation.  Without getting all metaphysically Kant and breaking down the foundational principle of morals, I’ll be the first to tell you that ‘What I ought to do’ isn’t always what I do and I certainly have reaped what I have sown.  I’ve also, in life, felt a great moral ‘duty’ and made choices that countered my desires or interest for the sake of Karma caching.  Karma can be defined by the cause and effects of any thought, word, or deed of moral and immoral volition.

“If we are to assume that anybody has designedly set this wonderful universe going, it is perfectly clear to me that he is no more entirely benevolent and just in any intelligible sense of the words, than that he is malevolent and unjust.” – Aldous Huxley

Alas, The Law of Karma is merely one of the many conditions of my own personal philosophies and one of the twenty-four in Buddhist philosophy.  Applying this to religion: Being created by an Almighty God who controls our destinies and predetermines our future, or being produced by an irresistible Karma that completely determines our fate and controls our life’s course, independent of any free action on our part, is essentially the same. The only difference lies in the two words God and Karma. One could easily be substituted for the other, because the ultimate operation of both forces would be identical.” (‘The Theory of Karma’ by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw).

I’m not writing this post as a teaching of any particular spirituality no matter how Buddhist-slanting it may come off. I’m merely writing this because this morning I woke up and made a dreadful call to the customer service department of my bank.  When the customer satisfaction representative (as they are now called, but as we all know they should – typically – be called customer dissatisfaction representatives) got on the phone I was fully prepared to launch into my unsatisfied customer diatribe, take down a badge number, and ask to speak to a supervisor, but today didn’t require packing the heat.  In a rare and tingly-happy-believe-in-the-world-again turn of events, he (why is it that we only remember the identifying details of those that wrong us and not those that generate goodwill?) not only satisfied the customer but he went above-and-beyond to set in motion the events of a brilliant day.  He not only took away a nuisance, he took away the entire burden and then wished me a blessed day. This first interaction in my day created a chain reaction of good and the well-wish to be contented and happy truly did generate not only that but also hope and a moral courage to validate these feelings for someone else.

The kind customer VERY-satisfactory representative inspired not only this posting – my writing – but shaped my circuitous thinking about something I read a couple of weeks ago that prompted an immediate reaction from me and in turn proved to be the gospel – Justine Musk’s ‘who is influencing you, and how? – three degrees of influence, your writing, and you.’

Even if you’re not a writer, you can certainly be inspired and THAT is categorically imperative for me to pass around.  (To get all Kant about it).

“All living beings have actions (Karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Karma that differentiates beings into low and high states.” – Buddha

Unrequited Love, Heavy Trunk.

I’ve typically been a non-fiction writer, but not the kind of non-fiction that results in a 500 page whopper on something super interesting like Architecture, Anne Frank, or Autism.  No, more of vanity non-fiction like a memoir.  Ten years and counting before I realized that perhaps I wasn’t that interesting to be filed in a bookshelf next to a Bill Clinton Autobiography or a book by Joseph Campbell.  Hell, I’m not even halfway as interesting as Augusten Burroughs as to have a book remotely touching the same bookshelf.  So I tuck it away in a trunk, but what you must know is to a writer this, the act of putting away a manuscript, is like putting away your winter clothes knowing that next winter it won’t fit.  So it goes, into an out-of-sight-out-of-mind place to coexist in a box with forgotten pieces of a former life. Shedding skin is hard enough, but you grow more and it’s usually more radiant. 

I’m writing fiction, now.  It’s much easier and I’ve grown twofolds from my last manuscript.  For example, I now work off tightly worked out outlines rather than freestyle.  My stream of consciousness writing could go on for an eternity, but hey Aldous Huxley did well with it.  I know the story like the back of my hand and it’s not just written there like the good ol’ days.  I know at exactly what point I need to have conflict or resolution and while I might veer ever so slightly from the well-thought out path for the sake of adding memory, I never take a chance on arriving at a dead end.

Funny, I’m much more wise but yet less intelligent than I used to be so it’s become difficult to match the unparelled wit of my twenties.  When I was a sponge, I could absorb and ring out so much more.  I’m more like a scrubber now, it comes in and out but my sole purpose is to scratch out what I can just to see the surface. 

So here I sit, only a paragraph away from killing off a character that was loosely based upon someone I knew way back when I was smarter.  The difficulty in this is that once someone is immortalized by woven text, they become harder to say that last goodbye.  It’s not the first goodbye, that was so easy because life was happening at that moment and you had to be in it.  Maybe there were more coming and going with idle goodbyes, which is not truly a separation.  Kahil Gibran said it best in The Prophet, “Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”  I’m ready, though, to see this story to its end even if it’s merely one book in a lifetime of books to come.  Many of them, perhaps, left unresolved for the characters but resolving the storyline for me.  So let this book be the death of the unrequited love, and may the symbol she brings rest in literary peace.

I hope this manuscript doesn’t end up in the trunk with the other one, but either way I’ll write more resolve until the end of my days and behind me I’ll leave a heavy trunk.

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