Musings from the editor of About Our Children

Calm creates good karma?

One of the famous “Keep Calm” versions of the saying that adorn t-shirts, mugs and other ephemera is “Keep Calm and Let Karma Finish.”

I’m not so sure if calm creates good karma, because karma is actually the sum of a person’s actions in this and in previous states of existence, which then is viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.

But calm may help decide the fate of your present existence following an incident, episode or one of life’s hair-raising, emotion-rising dramas.

“Keep Calm and Carry On” — the original saying — certainly holds true as a would-be mantra for my life. To respond and not to react is something to which I aspire. Sometimes I can actually achieve it, but more often than not, I keep aspiring. I like to say I am keeping my aspirations high.

I am reminded of one episode of keeping calm involving my kids, whom I will identify as Child#1 and Child#2 so as not to embarrass them.

Child#2 (not necessarily in birth order, but I won’t say) was about to go on a school trip. It was the first out-of-town journey, not counting sleep-away camp. It was big deal to be with classmates, to explore a brand new city, to stay in a hotel, to take photographs, and to have fun and learn about the history of the city. The trip was to Boston. And the class was to travel by bus, a long journey from our home. Of course, many of the students had their devices packed along to occupy and entertain themselves on the long drive there.

Child#2 needed one, and didn’t have the desired device. So Child #2 borrowed an iPod from Child#1 with the caveat that Child#2 promise to be really, really careful. That is, to not lose, break or mess it up in any way. With that condition agreed upon, Child#2 took Child#1’s iPod on the trip.

Off Child#2 went to Boston, and I awaited the return to be regaled by stories and adventures.

When Child#2 returned, there were plenty of stories and adventures to tell, but, alas, there was no iPod! Oy!

Knowing how Child#2 would be self-punishing, and knowing how hard it was for Child#2 to make sure that the iPod didn’t disappear, I decided to be very calm about the loss.

And furthermore, I asked Child#1 to do the same. Not to berate Child#2.

Sure there would be plenty of time for lectures or lessons about responsibility and care of objects, but somehow, I decided not to react, but to respond, and not make Child#2 feel worse for the wear.

Then I remembered a story I had read.

It was a tale about a wife, her diamond ring, and her husband. It also involved a toilet bowl, some faulty plumbing and her husband’s attempt at fixing their bathroom problem. The details of the story elude me, but I do remember the wife losing her diamond ring, her precious diamond ring, because of something that happened involving her husband. I also remember the point of the story. She kept her calm. She did not rail against him. She did not scream. She did not have a hissy fit, but reacted with understanding. Wow!

The punch line of that story was that a few days later, she found the diamond! She thought it was gone, flushed away forever. But there it appeared (reappeared) at the bottom of the bowl. Sure was thrilled to recover her diamond, but she was even more happy about how she behaved toward her husband. How she chose calm, instead of chaotic drama. That she was actually able to transcend her natural inclination and not freak out.

I remembered that story days after Child#2’s return from Boston.

I remembered that story when I was emptying out the blue travel bag packed with clothes. Inside a small, slim, side pocket, a place I would not normally check or look, there it was. The iPod! Returned safe and sound. Actually, never lost in the first place.

In fact, Child#2 put it away so well, that its packing place was forgotten!

And then I wondered whether we found it because of karma.

Calm karma.



About the Author
Heidi Mae Bratt is an award-winning journalist and the editor of About Our Children, the parenting magazine for the Jewish Standard.