Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about karma. As it turns out, this simple word holds a plethora of complex definitions, but, to me, it symbolizes a Universal law of balance. In other words, for every action there is an equal reaction, on some level, although we may not witness said reaction. I like to think of it this way, mainly because it makes me feel that I don’t have to be the one to egg my neighbor’s house to show my disgust at their neglect toward their incessantly barking dogs. No need to waste my eggs. Karma will take care of it.
When we free ourselves of the need to be the ones to exact revenge on another person, we open up a resource of energy that can be utilized in a much more fulfilling way. Sure acting out may feel good at the time, and as Mindy Kaling, from “The Office,” jokes in her new book entitled, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” we had better “push, shove, (and) scratch that person while they’re still within arm’s reach...(because)...who knows when you’ll get this opportunity again?” But in reality, after the adrenaline has worn off, we still have to face ourselves in the mirror. And no matter how unfair the actions against us may seem, it is only our own deeds that determine who we really are.
Although, surely there are many Dave Matthews songs that speak to this topic, the one that has popped out at me today is “Ain’t it Funny How Time Slips Away,” a cover, written by Willie Nelson, which DMB began performing in 2001. True, these aren’t Dave’s native words, but as I have previously said, I believe that the tunes that end up being played by the band must resonate with the artists in some way to make it into their repertoire. In any event, this ballad describes a man, (for simplicity’s sake), who runs into an old flame, and asks her about her new love. The lyrics suggest that the man in the story was dumped, traded in, or maybe even cheated on, by the woman. But the hero of this tale doesn’t waste his time or energy trying to make bad things happen to his ex; instead he tells her that “in time, you’re gonna pay,” and reminds her that “time slips away.”
Another good thing about just letting things go and leaving consequences up to the Universe, is that beating ourselves up over past misdeeds also becomes irrelevant. Of course, we strive not to make the same mistakes again, (which, by the way, is one definition of insanity), but believing in an all-encompassing balancing agent certainly takes some of the pressure off. This is what I imagine Dave to be speaking to when he sings, “I was just wondering if you’d come along, hold up my head when my head won’t hold on,” in “The Stone,” a haunting track about a man wrestling with his past. Clearly, one could make the case that Dave is pleading to anyone; a higher power, a friend, a lover, or some unacknowledged aspect of himself. But that is what makes music so beautiful and so strange. You never know.
But, for today, I will keep my eggs in their container, and try my hardest to only let my best thoughts become actions. Everything else is out of my hands.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self