Reaping Karma’s Reward

Back in the 1970’s I sustained a serious back injury that compressed four of my lumbar vertebrae, reducing my height by nearly two inches.  During recovery, I lay in a hospital bed, my self-pity fanned by the sympathy expressed by my family and friends, my every whim catered to by eager nurses.

One morning a shorter friend named Nigel, who I hadn’t yet seen, walked in and sat down in the vacant chair beside the bed.  I turned to him, anticipating a stern faced nod of greeting, followed by softly spoken words of comfort.  Instead, Nigel held two flat hands toward me, then drew them about two inches toward each other before bursting into laughter so strenuous tears he actually shed tears.  On recovering, he chuckled, “Do that again, and we’ll see eye to eye.”

In response, I shook my head and frowned.  Ignoring my glare, Nigel added, “There’s a life lesson in this – you have to be able to laugh at other peoples’ misfortune.”  I had difficulty accepting his words.

About six weeks later, with my injury preventing me taking my place in our hunting team, opportunity opened for my younger brother to assume my role as spotter.  He jumped at the chance.  Nigel, the leader of this particular foray, handed his beloved BSA Model 12 sliding block .22 target rifle to my brother to carry to the car.  Inexperienced in the handling of rifles, my young brother took the rifle, holding it in the way rifles are commonly held – left hand on the front stock, right on the butt, finger through the trigger guard.  He smiled in appreciation as he hefted the beautiful little rifle, and promptly shot Nigel through his left foot.

Standing on the veranda, I watched the incident unfold, saw Nigel collapse to the ground, and listened to a stream of creative invective until my elder brothers loaded Nigel in the car and drove him to hospital.  I stayed behind with my younger brother, now persona-non-grata, and shame-faced at his accidental discharge.  Though we discussed the incident, we didn’t discuss Nigel’s culpability, or stupidity, in handing over a loaded and cocked weapon.  Instead, we focused on the real lesson – that firearms should always be considered loaded, and unsafe.

The next day I hobbled into hospital on my crutches.  Nigel lay in bed, bandaged foot elevated.  Hearing the tap tap of my crutches, he woke up, grimaced in a manly fashion, and generally behaved about the same as I had during my stay in the very same hospital ward a few weeks earlier.  After pursing my lips and nodding in apparent stern faced sympathy, I burst into laughter before saying, “You have to be able to laugh at other peoples’ misfortune.”  Nigel didn’t seem to appreciate the humor.

This is a true story.  During the course of my life, I’ve collected thousands of itty-bits of wisdom, many of which hold little more than superficial truth.  However, all of them hold value, even if that value is restricted to contemplating how foolish some sayings really are.  At the time, I had difficulty accepting Nigel’s words could ever hold value, yet on that one occasion, they felt appropriate – beware the seeds you sow, lest you reap Karma’s reward.

{This post originally appeared on the blog, Between the Covers.}

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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One Response to Reaping Karma’s Reward

  1. Pingback: Real Men, and Razors | Malmaxa. Another View, of True ©.

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