Equal and Opposite

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Newton’s third law, a part of the physics classroom.  This is used to explain concepts that, while I find beautiful, are a bit beyond my understanding of the universe.  I understand the idea of forces matching each other; I sit on a chair, pushing down, but the solidity of the chair pushes back giving me an specific place where I find myself balanced.  As a person who desperately seeks balance, I find this comforting.  Unfortunately, equal and opposite occasionally feels more like one step forward, two steps back. 

A wonderful thing happened to me last week.  I set out for a normal run, knowing it would likely be more walking than running.  Something was different this time; maybe something was in the air.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something had changed.  It wasn’t enough to walk through my miles.  No matter the pain, I was determined to run.  I needed to feel the rush of movement, the bite of the cold air as I sped through.  So I ran. 

I ran at intervals at first, easing myself back in.  The first interval I had a twinge of pain, but I felt so exhilarated I didn’t care.  The second interval hurt a little more.  By the third interval I was limping as I walked, slightly brokenhearted at my inability to complete even a small run.  It was hard not to be angry at my foot; it had carried me so far before, it’s current refusal hurt deeper than the physical pain I was feeling.  I decided to push through until I had 15 minutes of intervals (my run/walk ratio was based on distance not time, so it was not a strict number of intervals), then turn around and walk home.  After I turned around, I changed my mind.  I was not going home defeated.  I might limp around the rest of the day, regretting my rash decision, but for now I was going to run.  And I did.  I took off at a run, bracing myself for the pain.

But the pain didn’t come.  In my determination to run, I had adjusted my form in a small way, and fixed the problem I had been fighting for five months.  Unfortunately, a short ways down the road, I found a new pain in my shins and my hip.  I may have lost one pain, but in things remaining equal, I gained a new one. The pain I had been experiencing was a reaction to something else.  Now, correcting it, I have fatigue and pain in the muscles that had not been used in months.  With a little, work on that, I am running almost pain free.  Of course today, I am instead home with a stomach virus. 

One step forward, two steps back.

I suppose equal and opposite applies to Karma as well.  You behave badly, someday you will realize consequences of your actions.  Even if it takes a while, there will be an equal and opposite reaction.  At least that is what I am telling myself today, after a night spent biting my tongue at the poor behavior of others.  No one is perfect, including myself, but at times I cannot help but wish for a more complicated time.  Maybe I have been reading too many historical novels lately, but there is something to be said for the manners and customs of a time not so long past.  Sure, the freedoms we have now are wonderful, but unfortunately there are people who do not seem to understand that just because you CAN behave anyway you wish, doesn’t mean you must. 

Saying hurtful things, simply because you can, does not mean there will not be any reaction.  Maybe the person you are insulting is too shy, or even just too well behaved to react to your comments.  It doesn’t mean they don’t have an effect.  Sometimes they create a pain in a person, something that seems small, something they can adjust themselves around.  But someday that pain will come back as words, long forgotten by the speaker, echoing in the mind of the person who has been hurt, and causing pain all over again. 

This is something I have experienced myself as words from my childhood come back to haunt me, and something I have seen happen with my daughters, as they fight within themselves to remember they are not made from the words of others.  The saddest moments come when you see adults, people who should know better, behaving cruelly to others.  Part of you wants someone to do the same to them one day, to show them how it feels.  The larger part of me though wishes instead they will see what they have done to people, to see how their careless words have hurt others. 

I can only hope when the pain comes, people can handle the truth of what has happened, and maybe make amends.


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