It was the last day to take data on one of the most difficult science labs of my freshman year, and my group stayed through lunch to complete collecting data. However, we were short the key ingredient: a metal ball to throw. I raced to the dining hall to borrow a ball from anyone who would spare it during lunch. A tall boy gave me his, saying he didn’t even need it back and wishing me luck.
I took the ball and ran, only to find another group there without a ball. We raced through the data taking, ignoring them. They argued with each other about how they would get a ball. We had borrowed the last one.
We continued to work nonstop, only ten minutes remained. Not surprisingly, a panicked member of the other group came and asked if we had finished. One girl immediately shook her head, “We have to take more data. You should have found your own!”
He looked crestfallen. We had been in their situation, and I was shocked the girl had said no. “Oh come on,” I said hesitantly, trying not to make anyone angry, “that’s a little harsh. We have all the data we really need. I’m sure we will all ace the lab!” The girl looked relieved as we handed her the ball. We packed up our lab materials and returned them to the science room.
Suddenly, the girl who had earlier refused the girl the ball turned to me and said, “What’s going to happen to me when I fail this lab?”
I grinned and said only half seriously, “Oh you won’t! You have good karma from giving her the ball!”
“I don’t believe in karma; I believe in hard work and good results,” she said firmly, looking angry that I suggested the mere existence of karma.
“But that is karma! It’s just a less spiritual version. Good yields more good. It’s an extension on the golden rule. It’s believing that bad people, even if they show no regret, will be unhappy with themselves.”
I have always believed in karma, but if I had to pin it to one moment. It would be when a girl realized she had alienated all her friends, she had been mean for a very long time. She realized this, and became one of the nicest people I know. This is karma, it is a faith in the overall goodness of human nature, and that we regret our mistakes.
Five months later, school was ending and the girl was leaving. On the last day of classes she told me, “You know you were right, karma’s real.”
I’m not sure exactly why this sudden change came over her, but it doesn’t matter, it was a change for the better.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.