I don’t believe in God, but I’m also indecisive. The combination of these two things creates a lot of problems. When I don’t know where to go eat dinner, for instance, I can’t light a candle and pray about it. I can’t put my hands together and say, “Dear Jesus, do you think it’s better to head over to the BBQ place and grab a giant pile of meat, or have a romantic sit-down dinner at the Chick-Fil-A?”
To deal with those moments in my life when I just don’t know what to do, I’ve invented my own religion based on pretty much the same thing as any other religion: interpreting signs from the universe around me. My “religion” comes from a hodge-podge of Buddhism, crazy, and romantic bullshit ideas probably ingrained in me by the media, and though it’s more of a hobby than a practice, I’ve managed to narrow it down to three major beliefs:
Belief # 1: Little rubber bouncy balls dictate the path of my life.
When I was in high school, I found a bouncy ball in the grass, which seemed so unremarkable at the time, even I didn’t realize its significance. I threw the ball at someone’s head and went on with my day. But when I found another bouncy ball a few weeks later, I marveled at the coincidence. (I didn’t so much marvel as think, “Huh. I just found one of these things a few weeks ago. Whose head wants to get hit by this?”1)
Since then, I’ve found a bouncy ball in random places roughly once a year. Naturally, I take this to mean that bouncy balls appear as a sign from the universe letting me know that my life has followed the correct path – what else could they mean? I’m not maniacal about it. I don’t sift through the grass in desperation, searching for a little rubber ball in order to find out if I should choose the red or the black lining for the inside of my sneakers, but I do carry upwards of 20 bouncy balls with me at all times, mostly because I think it’s hilarious to carry a bag full of bouncy balls around with me everywhere for no apparent reason. (To carry my balls, I needed to buy a small backpack, which I bought online because the website said the color was “Pooside Blue.” Pooside! Fucking awesome. I got the backpack a few weeks later, and realized that it was just a typo – the color was “Poolside Blue.” Imagine my disappointment.)
Belief # 2: Karma exists, and you can hoard it like money.
I’m a strong believer in karma, treating others as you’d like to be treated, what goes around comes around, golden rule type of shit. But I also think too much karma looks greedy, and people who hoard good karma only do it to save up enough karma points so that they can eventually murder someone and remain in the positive. (I think about 850,000 good karma points could cover a murder.2) [okc.net does not endorse murder, no matter how awesome and well deserved – colin]
I myself try to stay on the positive side of karma, but I also make sure and do something terrible every once in a while, just to make things interesting. There is a stipulation: the something terrible can’t inflict any substantial mental or physical anguish on anyone else. It can inconvenience them, annoy them, scare them, but can cause no lasting harm. In other words, it’s perfectly acceptable to photoshop a friend’s face into some hardcore gay pornography and leave it on his computer as a screensaver, but unacceptable to gouge out someone’s eyeballs and say, “Hahahaha! Now you can’t see me, but I’m totally mooning you!”
My most significant drop in karma came when I stole money from a casino. I know what you’re thinking – that’s like the movie Ocean’s Eleven! But I didn’t steal like a badass bandit, or narrowly escape with my life, or employ the use of any mind-boggling or unnecessarily complex trickery. I did it in a very boring way (a way I’d like to describe, but doing so might lead to my arrest and prosecution), and I only ended up with 500 bucks, half of which I pissed away playing Blackjack in another casino that very same night.
If the karma didn’t get me, the guilt certainly did. I didn’t spend the rest of the money right away, but I noticed the longer I hung onto it, the more random bad things would happen to me. My car died. My foot turned into a hand. My lucky piano spontaneously combusted. I got scabies for an entire month until the stupid people at the student health center properly diagnosed it.3 In a panic to spend what I now consider the cursed money, I let the remaining 250 bucks dwindle down to a pathetic 40 dollars until it occurred to me that maybe giving the money to a good cause could reverse the curse.
After weeks of deliberation spent trying to figure out a worthy recipient of the cash, I ended up giving the money to a lady in a ValuFoods store with two kids. She looked like she might need it. The problem was, I couldn’t just walk up to her, hand her 40 bucks, and say, “Here’s some cursed money,” so after following her son around the grocery store and alarming more than one of the cashiers, I asked a 14-year-old grocery bagger with a bad attitude to give it to her for me. I still don’t know for sure if he gave it to her, or if he pocketed it. I do know, however, that if he kept the money, he probably suffered some serious worse-than-scabies-stuff because that was bad karma cash, and you don’t fuck with bad karma cash.
Belief # 3: When in doubt, base all of your decisions on insignificant things that happen around you.
I can’t be bothered to make basic decisions in life, so I always look to my surroundings for advice on what to do. For example, when I’m at a bar ready to order a drink, I always look at the nearest guy. If he looks indifferent, I order a shot of Jager, but if he looks rape-y, I order a beer, and I hold it in my hand at all times, every now and then casting a suspicious glare his way and mouthing the words, “Don’t even think about throwing some roofies in this bitch.”
Or, if I’m driving in my car with a friend, and we’re having trouble deciding on a restaurant, I close my eyes and let the car drive me where it wants to go, which, more often than not, ends up being Arby’s…or off the road for a ditch picnic (a ditch-nic, as I like to call it). Either way, I don’t have to think, and I like that.
For years now, I’ve enacted this foolproof religion, this scheme of reading my universe, but recently, my faith has been tried. And the problem is very serious: I haven’t found a bouncy ball in two years.
Now, I’m forced to wonder if the path of my life has veered off course somewhere. Who knows? A slight variation in the course of my life could become as disastrous as the 1985 Michael J. Fox crossing paths with the future Michael J. Fox, causing a tremendous disruption in the space/time continuum and resulting in the earth imploding. Or, even worse, it could force me to make a decision on my own.
At this low point in my faith, this point when Jesus would be carrying me if I believed in him—or if I didn’t outweigh him by a good 60 pounds (I carry all my weight in my knuckles)—I have to make some of the biggest decisions of my life, and it’s just not fair. I mean, sure, making small decisions based on avoiding all responsibility for their outcome is easy, but what about when it comes time to make the bigger decisions? Like this one: should I get married? Or this one: should I pick up my entire life and move it somewhere across the country to chase my dream? I feel distant and trapped, with no bouncy balls to light my way, to tell me it’s okay to press on, to keep going the way I’ve chosen.
And the universe delivers. Signs appear everywhere. People I haven’t talked to in years start appearing in my life and chatting with me on facebook. My dog figures out how to work the electric car window. I accidentally pour a pan of boiling water on my hand. I accidentally walk into a giant glass sliding door, and my nose swells up for a week.6 I accidentally pull my car out in front of another car, destroying my only means of transportation. Now the universe has beaten the shit out of me, and I’m trapped, both literally and metaphorically.
Not to complain or anything, but when I ask the universe for signs, I mean that I want signs I can decipher. Like maybe one day I’ll look out the window from a tall office building, and down below I’ll see hundreds of people who will gather to form words, paragraphs, very detailed instructions telling me what to do. Or maybe a rude stranger, possibly a midget, will simply tell me in a very gruff manner what to do with my life and then disappear into a bunch of corn, like the baseball players in the movie Field of Dreams. But this vagueness is bullshit. It seems like, really, anything can be a sign. I can just interpret everything around me in a million different ways, and that doesn’t help shit.
So fuck you, Universe. Why can’t you be more specific?
I’m not a Christian, but I certainly appreciate the Ten Commandments because of their specificity. That’s the kind of detail I’m looking for when I don’t want to decide for myself whether or not what I do is right or wrong. Looking back on all those people who up and left their lives to follow Moses, they don’t seem so crazy now. I mean, at least Moses had a plan, so really, following Moses was easy. If my friend James Nghiem walked down a hill with a stone tablet and said, “Yo, here are the rules of life,” I’d read them over, and then I’d probably be like, “Cool, I can do that.” I don’t think I’d question them because at the very least, James had gone to all the trouble of learning how to etch things into stone—as of right now, I know he doesn’t have that skill. I mean, shit, at least someone made a specific list full of moral decisions that I won’t have to make.
Then again, maybe that’s what all religion is: a bunch of indecisive people trying to avoid the responsibility of their choices. I wonder, now, why I look to the universe at all. And I realize for the first time that maybe the universe has kicked my ass so that I can understand what’s really going on here, that the importance I place on my bouncy ball religion has just been my way of validating the outcomes of the choices I’ve made. Maybe the universe is trying to teach me to forget about what the universe might be trying to teach me and to simply have faith in my own decisions.
Maybe…if only there were a sign…
Leah Kayajanian is a stand up comedian living in Norman. Find out where she’s performing and check her blog at http://www.leahkayajanian.com. (c) Leah Kayajanian All rights reserved.