I’m half enlightened. I’m sure of it. So, are some of my friends. Heck, you may be half enlightened too. Maybe if I were fully enlightened I would know all that’s going on with you and with all other sentient beings in all the realms of all the multiverses on all dimensions. But I’m not, so I don’t.
But I know I am half-enlightened. Today I finished my taxes. For any of you familiar with the US Internal Revenue Service, aka, the Tax Man, you know that the Tax Man cometh to taketh away your money on the 15th of April, but he/she will wait for your measly paper excuse until October 15th.
My accountant, who is probably cursing me at this very moment, has all he needs to complete my returns and get them in the mail tomorrow. That’s right, I gave him one full day to complete my return--as if that’s the only one he has to do.
I know, you’re saying, I don’t hear anything enlightening yet, not even a quarter enlightened, never mind half enlightened.
Stay with me.
2009 was the worst, crappiest, pain-in-the-rump year financially for me thus far in my adult life. My investments are in real estate—all of them. Much of my income comes from real estate—it used to anyway. Now, all that comes are bills, bills, and more bills. It’s been a major bust. My net worth has tanked, tanked, and tanked some more.
Nothing brought this home more clearly than doing my taxes.
I’m getting to the enlightened part.
Also, I lost all my 1099’s with income and commissions, all bank documents with interest paid on real estate loans--all my tax related paperwork--gone. Looked. Looked. And looked again. Nada.
Had to call my brokers. Had to reconstruct from monthly statements. On and on it went, and the further it went the more money I realized I had lost. I started feeling like Enron or Lehman Brothers.
Meanwhile, the clock kept ticking as it got closer and closer to the 15th of the month. My back kept aching and aching as I pored over seven, I kid you not, different, bank accounts, and more gas, electric, and water bills than most guys my age have hair on their head. I worked on this thing from before seven in the morning till late in the evening for three days straight.
YES, YOU’RE SAYING, THAT’S ALL FINE AND GOOD, YOU PROCRASTINATING, ABSENT-MINDED SORRY EXCUSE FOR A BOOKKEEPER—BUT I’M HERE FOR ENLIGHTENMENT, even if only a fractional portion. Where is the enlightenment part?
I had a pretty decent time throughout the whole ordeal.
I was nice to my family and my dog.
I didn’t flip out when I couldn’t find the tax papers.
I didn’t rip myself a new opening for losing all that money.
I told a few good jokes.
I didn’t harangue myself for waiting so long to do my taxes.
I didn’t tell myself that I was a sorry excuse for a human being.
Why, I’ve given myself a harder time for wasting five minutes looking for my misplaced car keys.
I’ve put myself into a weeklong clinical depression because I couldn’t stop beating the crap out of myself for a reason I can no longer remember.
And here I was after three days of fully documenting a significant collapse in my financial well-being—and I’m still not sure it’s not going to get worse--feeling pretty good, enjoying my life, and appreciative of my family and friends, my house, my life, my work, my readers, and my clients.
The American Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield, wrote a book, "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path," talking about how the truth of one's spiritual life is evidenced in daily living, in the rare moments, if they come, of ecstasy, but more importantly, in the much more commonplace occurances of the day, such as doing the laundry and preparing meals.
Why, doing the laundry will be a breeze in comparison to doing my taxes. You see, I'm at least half enlightened, maybe even four-sevenths enlightened.
I'm going to get my calculator and figure it out right now. I'll get back to you no later than the 15th of October, next October. In the meantime, make it a good day, even if it is tax day.
Share this with a friend who may STILL be doing their taxes.