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Adam Hills

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Adam is one of Australia's most talented and widely-respected comedians, whose shows include Happy Feet and Go You Big Red Fire Engine. In the UK, he has appeared on Radio 4's Loose Ends and taken highly successful one-man shows to the Edinburgh Fringe.

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Karma comedian

24th October 2005

Hello dear reader, and welcome to yet another of my monthly diversions. It occurs to me as I write this that for the past couple of years I have been banging on about myself and my 'disability', offering up all manner of half-baked theories and slightly undercooked opinions, and not once have I asked about you?
Clearly, this being a written column and not a conversation, your reply would have been somewhat redundant, but there are times when I wish I could have a bit of a chat, open up a conversation, ask for your opinion ... and then offer up some more half-baked theories and slightly undercooked opinions.

For instance, this month I would love to hear your opinion on reincarnation. In an ideal world we would discuss at length the concept of past lives; the belief that 'what we do in this life echoes into the next'.

Eventually we would swing round to cover a query that has been posed to me by those who believe this is not our first and only ride on the cosmic merry-go-round: "I wonder what happened in a past life to lead you to be born without a foot?"

"Ah! Good question!" I would reply, and I'd be off and running, figuratively speaking. So let's assume that the above exchange has taken place already, and that we're now at the part where I talk about me for a bit.

I'd love to know what happened in a past life to lead me to be born without a foot. In my wild erratic fancy, visions come to me of a windswept plain in the Middle Ages, as a strapping young knight clad in shining armour slays a vicious dragon, then carries a fair maiden away on the back of his steed.

As he rides off into the sunset, the dragon heaves one last sigh of anguish, spewing flames into the air. The horse suddenly rears, throwing our gallant rescuer to the ground, before losing its own footing and falling onto its side, crushing our hero's foot.

He survives, but his gallant deed is remembered for all eternity by a distinctive and recognisable scar - in this case, a missing right foot.

Any fans of karma - 'karma-chanics', if you will - will tell you that this makes no sense whatsoever. The idea of karma is one of education; of learning something from your actions so that you don't repeat it in the next life. The scenario I have described above is a gallant and righteous one, and would more likely be smiled upon by the universe.

No, the sad truth of any past deed of mine is that it was probably stupid and very possibly selfish - something from which I needed to learn a lesson.

Now I'm having visions of a platoon of soldiers stranded in a jungle in Vietnam. Carefully, quietly, they manage to inch their way back to camp without being captured. As they hear the familiar sounds of their comrades, one lone smart-ass decides to run up ahead, partly as a joke, and partly to make it look like he was responsible for leading his buddies home.

As he reaches the edge of the camp he starts singing Nutbush City Limits and breaks into the accompanying dance. With the entire camp watching, our hero puts his right leg out to one side, and promptly places it on a landmine. He survives, but is destined to spend his next life limbless, as a reminder of what happens when one tries to claim glory for someone else's deeds.

Strangely, this second account is probably closer to the truth. In my life I have had various psychic readings by people claiming to be healers, one of whom immediately cried upon touching my 'stump'. Each of them told me that they saw how I lost my foot in a past life ... and each told me it wasn't important that I knew how it happened.

One medium claimed that there was indeed a lesson to be learnt from whatever happened, and that the lesson for me in this life is 'humility'. Which would suggest that old GI Dancing Boy is the more likely scenario.

I'd like to think that something did happen in a previous life, and that regardless of what it was, I am constantly learning from it each and every day.

Of course, an alternate view is that the all-powerful creator of the universe is currently looking upon me thinking "What? I don't know how it happened either. You had two legs when I put you into the oven, but only one when I pulled you out. Maybe the dog ate a bit. Just deal with it and get on with your life".

Quite possibly, this is exactly what you're thinking right now too. Either way, I'm glad we had this little chat. Let's do it again some time. How does next month sound?

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