It is no secret. I am a bad driver. I do not apply makeup in the car, nor do I text, talk on the phone or sing. I'm pretty bland, huh? Nevertheless, I am a terrible driver. The giant dent that I found in my bumper was not my fault, but I think of it as car karma because I have definitely been a less-than-good driver in the past. I have to admit, I was pretty shocked when my mother and I left the mall and she asked, "Is that your car!?"
I will never forget when my 2000 tan Chevrolet Prism was smashed in the parking lot during my first semester of law school. The person did not leave a note, much like the person who hit my new silver car two days ago. When I saw my old tan car in the law school parking lot, with the front fender completely smashed, I began bawling. I was much younger and much more materialistic then. Two girls walked past me, saying they saw the car that hit mine. They gave me the license plate number and make and model of the car. When I reported the incident to the University of Miami and the police, they did nothing. Thankfully I decided not to repair my car because only a few months later I was in an accident that was my fault, and then had to repair the car anyway.
It's funny because when my mother and I were arriving at the mall two days ago, she asked if I wanted to park in the garage. I said no and recounted the time two years ago when I temporarily rejoiced because I lost my next car and thought that it was stolen from the garage. After totaling the tan Chevrolet prism, I got a used green one from the same year. It was terrible. It ate tires and burned oil like crazy. I was actually happy when I couldn't find my car and thought it was stolen because just about any car would have been an improvement over that one. As I parked my beautiful and properly functioning car in a quiet section of the mall, I told my mother, "This car is too good to lose." Shame on me for being materialistic. An hour later my rear bumper was smashed. Who drives that fast in the quiet and unoccupied section of the mall!? I didn't cry at all. Yay for me being a grownup.
The good news is as bad as the damage looked, Ricky went under the car and bent it back into shape. It took him less than a minute. As bad as Ricky can be, sometimes he's really good. And my car looks great comparatively speaking. I'll use some wax to remove the other car's paint, and make the scratches look as good as they can. Life goes on.
This incident made me realize a few things:
- Hell is much worse than karma. We are all somewhat accustomed to suffering while alive, so we make the best of it. The threat of being reborn as a lower life form, or even a higher life form, seems distant and not eminent. Hell, even though it is also an eternity of suffering, seems much worse. Perhaps it's because there is no chance of escaping from hell (unless you live in the movies), whereas there is always a chance to escape from samsara? Or maybe it's just the stories of fire and Satan still haunting me from my childhood.
- Karma probably doesn't follow the "an eye for an eye" model, meaning that me being a bad driver probably only leads to problems when I'm driving, not necessarily other car problems. And even though I was at the mall buying stupid vinyl toys, and I commented on how much I love my new silver car, it's unlikely that the car was smashed as some kind of immediate retribution for being too materialistic that day. Buddhist beliefs seem to emphasize that things happen over very long periods of time, meaning it would be too soon for this damage to my car to be a result of my recent materialism.
- Knowing a big and strong man with huge muscles probably doesn't hurt, especially if he knows how to fix things. This one is self-explanatory.
What do you think? Is hell worse than continual suffering while alive? Or are they the same? I just keep thinking ♪ Car karma car karma karma chameleon....♪ Yes, in addition to being materialistic, I also am in love with Boy George. I'm pretty sure that if there is a hell, I'm definitely going there, if for no other reason than my love of Culture Club.