For those of you who have already seen the show, the premise of this sitcom is so basic that it is brilliant. The main character Earl Hickey (played wonderfully by Jason Lee—Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky) has taken one too many wrong turns on the highway of life. However, a twist of fate turns his life into a tailspin of life-renewing events.Within seconds after winning a small lottery, he is hit by a car and while unconscious the winning lottery ticket blows away. While recovering in the hospital, Earl watches this TV program Last Call with Carson Daly where Carson says that his success is a direct result of doing good things for other people. It is at that moment Earl has an epiphany of sorts and discovers how karma can help him be a better person. Later, when he miraculously finds the winning lottery ticket that he had lost, Earl takes the winnings and sets out to correct every bad thing he’s ever done starting by coming up with a list of bad stuff that he has done to people over the years.
Each episode Earl does something good to take one of the items off his list of “karma things-to-do” to correct his wrongdoings from the past. It’s not always easy for him to escape the bad ways of his past and right all these wrongs, but he never loses sight of the influence that karma has on his life and to live his life better.
It’s a feel-good show despite the obvious digs at a segment of downtrodden American society that has been stereotypically depicted in movies and on television. However, what makes this show so endearing is that you find yourself cheering on Earl as he rights another wrong from his past and takes another item off his list.
And this got me thinking. What if I were to come up with my own list of things that I should set straight for the sake of karma? Without question, there are a lot of things that I would like to do to have some good karma come my way. While I haven’t done some of the stupid stuff like Earl has done—like steal a car from a one-legged woman, make fun of people with foreign accents, or ruin his ex-wife’s Christmases—I am sure I could come up with a number of things that I have done wrong that I would like to correct.
However, it’s not just some of the stupid stuff that I have done here—like lose my temper with a shopkeeper when I think they are trying to rip me off—that I would like to set straight by making it up somehow. To be sure, this whole idea of karma has already been an integral part of my life ever since I came to Asia and became interested in Buddhism. Not that it would take a TV show to reinforce my own beliefs about karma, but the show just sort of reminded me—in a humorous way—about the need to live my life better by doing more good.
And you know what? It works.
Sometimes living in a city the size of Seoul where life is anything but hectic and fast-paced, we sometimes get caught up in our own little worlds that we might not always do the right thing, like taking time out to help someone in need. I know I can’t pass by a beggar or homeless person these days without giving them a few coins in my pocket. Maybe I am just being a little too idealistic, but a little karma goes a long way, especially when you can help someone out.
On the other hand, getting back to this list, maybe we should all come up with our own list to either live our lives better or, if you are like Earl and have taken too many wrong turns on the highway of life, to correct some of those wrongs. Instead of making some hard to keep New Year’s resolutions when another year rolls around, maybe a “karma list” would be easier to do. I suppose we all could all do with a little good karma in our lives by doing something good.
Way to go Earl!