Life is indeed confusing.

Your personal power is a learned skill.  Once you have it, nobody can take it away, no matter their good or bad intentions (unless you give it away). Personal power is your ability to make useful decisions that support your own needs while causing the minimum of harm to anyone/thing else.  You learn by doing.

Both of my computers changed the time last Friday; my cell phone and my car did not. Now, since no mechanic nor even the book that came with the car know how to change the time in the car, it will be one hour fast for half a year unless I go out some night and unplug the battery and then plug it back at precisely 12:01 midnight +, the time of course determined by my cell phone which I think will change itself. Maybe I will do that. It’s nice to have everything lined up, but with my luck the car battery would go belly up two weeks later and the time again will be random.

Everything we do, even everything we think, has a positive outcome and a negative outcome. Physicists study that sort of thing: energy is the ability to do work; work is basically anything that moves or grows or does anything or takes any action; and for every action there is a reaction. Those are some laws of physics. Actually, that sounds like some human made up the law and put it into place. Humans do not decide these things. Those are some of the kinds of universal, God-given laws that are studied by physicists. They apply to everything, even including us. From a universal perspective, reactions are probably nothing more than simple realities.

From a human perspective, every action has both a positive and a negative reaction. That’s what the lovely yin/yang symbol is telling us, and the story of the Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. The three physical laws described above, add the physical reality of time, whatever that is, and they add up to the universal law of cause and effect, which, from a human point of view, is elegantly analyzed by the Buddhist concept of karma.

For nearly everything I have ever done, there are files. To me the filing is a negative side to whatever fun I had doing something, and I didn’t have time, so I piled them up in the storage locker. I will “enjoy dealing with them when I am settled down here on my ranch in my old age.” And then when later arrives these still have meaning, if anything they have more meaning, but there is this huge chain of causes and effects that we must spin into some kind of order if we want organize our lives before they end.

For example, I recently mentioned some musings on the underside of a washing machine. The washing machine is still sitting there because I need to activate a trailer to move it. The dryer, however, being very light of weight, was moved to the clubhouse some weeks ago. Great excitement. For some reason this particular dryer does an unusually good job of removing wrinkles; the other dryer seems to press them in. So the next day, I cleaned the corner that will be inhabited by the dryer and put the dryer in it. Then I realized there is no way to exhaust the hot air, so I had to find a pipe to go through the floor and rig up – well, you know, duct tape. Then I went to plug it in and it wouldn’t plug, all this over several days because it’s not the only chain of cause and effect that I have going. In fact I’m juggling half a lifetime of them, trying to bring order to my life in a time of great disorder that I had not anticipated.

So then I learned a lot about plugs, and I was still cogitating where to find the right one, I was wandering through Wal-Mart on a task from a different karmic chain of requirements, and there on a shelf was a pile of “dryer” plugs that appeared to have the appropriate arrangement of prongs, so I bought one. It was attached to a long heavy cord. No wiring required; just look on the back of the dryer for instructions. So this morning, with the dryer functioning beautifully, I can truly say that I have a sense of accomplishment. But it takes time to do things properly, and most of that time is spent either cleaning up afterward or checking how to avoid setting fire to one’s home.

Now I’m sure you are wondering what happened to the washer in the meantime since I loaded it down the back steps. I finally removed the camper top from the pickup bed, cleaned the pickup bed, found various necessary tools, activated the trailer, and just the moment that I had the truck in position to attach the trailer. It died. I’m happy I only had to walk a mile. So tomorrow I am to be at the gate to let the A-1 wrecking company carry the truck to the mechanic who will find out what’s wrong with it.

This will have both positive and negative results, from a human point of view. The positive is – whatever’s wrong with it did not happen on top of a mountain in New Mexico and probably won’t happen on top of a mountain because the mechanic will fix it. The negative is that it will cost me a bundle. The unforeseen negative – I haven’t yet found out.

The person who is truly in control of her life, to the extent that is possible, is not the optimist who makes up fairy-tale reasons why everything is always lovely, and nor is she the pessimist. The person who truly has more power over her own circumstances is she who thinks about all of the inevitable and possible results of whatever she is doing: the positive results; the negative results; and the long-term results.

If you don’t think about what you are doing, and the result is that your house burns down, you can call it karma, and you would be right. But karma works both ways, and it’s awfully hard to think of reasons why you are happy that your house is gone. It might even turn you from an optimist into a pessimist, when in reality life is neither/nor. It just is what it is.

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