My Karma Ran Over My Dogma!
By Judy Dykstra-Brown
The small disk that had been pinned to my visor pinged off the steering wheel and landed on my lap as we jolted over the rutted dirt road. I picked it off my leg before it was jostled off onto the gray carpet covered with gravel and slips of paper containing scribbled lines of inspiration for future poems. Quickly, I glanced at the words printed on its front. “My karma ran over my dogma.”
I had thought it hilarious when I saw it pinned to the sweater of the man reading poetry at the L.A. coffee shop almost twenty years ago. I’d married the man it had led me to, who had worn it to every poetry event we’d attended for fifteen years afterwards. But when he turned seventy, it was suddenly obvious that he was wearing out fast. We’d been traveling and setting up our art in art and craft shows for fourteen years by then.
Setting up his sculpture booth and my jewelry booth was an 11 hour ordeal, of which lugging in and positioning his 300 pound stone and wood and paper sculptures were only a small part. We had moved to Northern California to live by art, but instead, as much as we loved our life, I had a feeling it was killing him. So I planned it all out. In spite of the fact that I was only 54, we would rent out our home and studios and move to Mexico to live simply so he could retire.
On an initial two month trial run, we found the town where Bob was sure he wanted to retire, bought a house, and returned to California to sell most of our worldly goods. Our van sat in our driveway fully packed to the ceiling, kayaks on top packed with books and art supplies. Ready to leave for Mexico within a few days, we decided to both have our yearly physicals while we could still use our health insurance to do so. The day before we were set to leave, we received our results. When it was Bob’s turn, the doctor motioned me in as well: Pancreatic cancer. He lived just three weeks longer.
Friends tried to dissuade me from moving to Mexico without Bob, but one of the last things he’d said to me before he died was, “Jude, I think you should go ahead and move to Mexico by yourself,” and I agreed. We had already closed down our lives here. Now that he had journeyed on, it was time for me to do the same. I dealt with what needed to be dealt with and hit the road for Mexico with Bob’s ashes in the bow of the Kayak, leading the way.
At the height of my career, I would have never thought of retiring. This entire move was calculated to prolong Bob’s life and to give him the leisure to create art without the pressures of setting up shows—lugging his 300 lb. sculptures half way across the nation and back, but he was now fulfilling his karma on another plane while I pursued the life I’d planned for him. So had this entire adventure of living in Mexico simply not been part of his karma, or was karma such an intricate tapestry that it was impossible to untangle yours from that of those near and dear and even strangers met in passing?
Surely, the unbelievable interplay of serendipity was more than coincidence. Some force that is called karma by some, fate or synchronicity by others, and God, Allah or The Great Spirit by others, may be what determined who walked into your life; but it was up to you to decide whom you let walk away, whom you let stay, or whom you refused to let go.
Now, here I was, driving eleven young men, one young woman and a puppet theater complete with sound system and fifty 3/4 scale puppets to a tiny village on the other side of the largest lake in Mexico.“The school is here, Judy,” said Eduardo, as he pointed to a dull gray building much-enlivened by a huge mural no doubt painted by the students themselves. I pulled up in front of the school and Isidro, Jose Luis, Mario, Roberto and the other young men who formed the membership of the loosely-jointed cultural council of her own small pueblo started to assist the husband and wife team who constituted the entire backup cast of the puppet theater to unload their equipment.
When their own truck had broken down en-route on the other side of the lake, villagers had told them to call the leader of this young band of artists, poets and dancers, and inevitably, I had been the one they called. How many times had I proven to be their backup player when plans, money or a vehicle had been needed to further their plans for the cultural enrichment of their small town?
I had not resisted the charms of synchronicity and so had allowed myself to be pulled into the slow current of life in Mexico that, although it was not free of obligation–to family, friends, community–was nonetheless contingent on another sort of energy not so dependent upon schedules or clocks or calendars. Here things happened because they happened and you were drawn into them because you were present or known or because you had been willing to be drawn in the past and so were known to be someone open to chance and willing to play along in this great jigsaw puzzle known as Mexico.
Here in this life I had fashioned so Bob could be free of the regulation of a job, applications, shows, schedules, boards of directors, groups, clubs and all of the “have to’s” of our former life, I had instead freed myself. Who knows, from day to day, whether we are part of someone else’s karma or whether they are part of ours?