Every year about this time, I begin working on getting my tax information ready for our accountant. As two self-employed people, this practice is far more involved than gathering our W-2s, and never what I consider fun. Yet, much as I dread it—and whine about the chore—in the end “doing taxes” is but one more detail of life that we all face on a regular basis. When you think about it, no matter how much we might try, we’ll never escape most of those particulars, so it is wise to mindfully embrace them in the present moment and recognize that collectively they all add up to creating a SMART life.
When we are younger, we seldom realize that the doing of many of life’s details never goes away. I remember thinking how I wouldn’t mind doing taxes as long as I had the money to pay them. Wrong! Now that we do have the money to pay them, I still don’t like doing them—and dislike paying so much! Details like doing taxes, dishes, laundry, or any one of a hundred things that need taking care of every day seldom goes away. A much better way to think of it is as the Zen saying goes, “Before enlightenment—chop wood, carry water; After enlightenment—chop wood, carry water. Ultimately, life goes on–whether we are living in happiness or living in hell. Given a choice, we might as well choose the higher and more cheerful path.
Even when I do finish putting together our taxes for 2016—another February will be here all too soon. Just like dirty laundry or dishes, even if I work to make things tidy today, tomorrow much of it will be right back for us to do. Our challenge then is to see the details of our lives as moments of service and experience to the present moment. Face it, the details will never go away—what hopefully happens instead is that we change and become something deeper and more in touch with our true nature while handling the details. That practice is often called mindfulness, and as Eckhart Tolle says, “Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into this world from deep within you.”
Back in 1817, Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. “ Unfortunately, he only had that partly right because we can be certain that every day we will encounter details and challenges. They will not go away. These days, instead of seeing the tiny experiences of my day as something that I can’t wait to get over and done with, I instead strive to see the good there, the God there, and the event is transformed—even when chopping wood or doing taxes.
“Even the most exalted states and most exceptional spiritual accomplishments are unimportant if we cannot be happy in the most basic and ordinary ways, if we cannot touch one another and the life we have been given with our hearts.” Jack Kornfield
“Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.” Eckhart Tolle