Could it be karma?

Posted 10/5/22

I reached into the jar and pulled out a card.

It read, “Do you believe in karma?”

This had to be karma. How else could Ken Stearns have ended up in Warwick sitting across from me at …

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Could it be karma?


I reached into the jar and pulled out a card.

It read, “Do you believe in karma?”

This had to be karma. How else could Ken Stearns have ended up in Warwick sitting across from me at the Beacon? And how else could you explain Ken’s quest to record hundreds of podcasts?

Ken spent the last 20 years in Asia and has come home. He’s taken it a step higher than driving across country, seeing places he’s heard about and talking with complete strangers.

The jar has become his key to meeting people, not just casually as you might strike up a conversation at a coffee shop or waiting to catch a flight. The jar contains 444 questions that Ken composed. Many can be answered in one or two words or, depending on how comfortable you feel and how Ken fuels the conversation, become revealing self-explorations.

Take karma, the first of 14 questions I randomly pulled from the jar over a two-hour discussion that could have easily gone on for another two hours.

Is karma a good or a bad thing, or is that simply the answer when you don’t have an explanation? Is it just fate? I wonder. Was it fate that brought Ken to Warwick or a plan that somehow came together?

I would have never met Ken or heard of his intention to interview 444 people from 111 cities in the contiguous 48 states if it hadn’t been for my son Jack who is now living in Switzerland. Jack has worked for several insurance companies most recently in Asia where he and his family lived for 10 years. Ken and Jack worked together in Vietnam and later in Hong Kong.

Jack told me some months ago that a fellow worker had turned a page in his life, returned to the U.S. and might give me a call. I didn’t pay much attention to it until Ken texted and introduced himself.

The very premise of what Ken was doing intrigued me. How would one go about connecting with hundreds of people across the country nonetheless get them to share intimate stories and thoughts from the current course of events to the existence of God?

Of course, when he called I knew I was going to say yes to recording a podcast.

It’s easy to see why Ken is a good salesman. He’s engaging. He’s humorous. He’s unassuming and he gets you to talk.

I got in a few questions on what put him on this path although I was left to wonder where exactly is home other than the West Coast. By and large the focus was on me and who doesn’t like talking about themselves?

Ken said he was looking for an “exit strategy” to Asia and initially thought of becoming a public speaker.

Having known him for only 15 minutes, I could see that. But where might he go and how would he get gigs?

As if reading my mind, Ken said, “I needed a book.”

He wrote a book, “Dear God,” a spiritual journey of 48 letters based on 12 topics. That sounds like pretty heavy stuff, but Ken assures it’s a “beach book.” From the book evolved the concept of questions categorized by: “self” defined by past, present and future; “others” focused on acceptance, compassion and forgiveness; “all” that includes  love, karma and service  and “you” that includes faith, hope and prayer.

As of last Thursday, Ken had interviewed 120 people in 15 states from 40 different cities.

“Who put this idea in my head?” he asked rhetorically.

As evidenced by our recording session, Ken is searching for answers.

“I never thought of it that way,” he said as together we explored the question:  “How can we have faith in something we can’t prove?”

Other questions proved equally provocative. Here’s some of what I pulled from the jar:

  • Has someone close to you ever hurt you? How? Did you forgive them?
  • Do you feel more hopeful during the sunrise, or during the sunset?
  • What truth in life have you found through prayer?
  • What’s the best thing about loving others?
  • Tell us a memory you’d rather forget?

At the moment, Ken is self-funded and looking to build a following. Episodes from The Jar can be found on Spotify and other podcast providers.

And what might Ken have planned upon reaching his goal?

“Well, I’m hoping the path rises to meet me.”

side up, column


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