Thursday, December 07, 2006

taxes april 2006

early in the year i had a new gym membership, and each day as i attended my workout, i parked my car in a nearby garage, a garage that charged a fee for parking between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

as it happened to be, i would arrive at the garage at 5:35 (coming directly from the office), and i would be charged 50 cents for my parking because of this 25-minute overlap. each day as i parked my car and paid my toll, i grumbled under my breath for the necessity of paying 50 cents every time i worked out. i was so close to parking-fee closing time and i was, after all, already paying a gym membership, and 50 cents per day equals an additional $15 per month (though i was not working out every single day).

no one heard my grumbling, as it was under my breath, so it seemed to me to be innocuous enough. however, one day as i paid my fee and felt my own lamenting sigh deep within me, it occured to me i was involved in a practice of resistance. i suddenly realized resistance is not only about expressions of anger but is also about refusal to accept what something is and how it is, no matter how quiet our opposition. and i was practicing resistance.

i set about to make a correction. each day as i paid my two quarters, i thought to myself (just as quietly as i had grumbled) how much i appreciate having the ability to pay 50 cents. many of my brothers and sisters in the world are unable to pay this half dollar and in fact, it was not so long ago that my own income could not have supported an ability to render 50 cents. each day as i paid my parking fee, i gave thanks for the gifts in my own hand, gave thanks for my ability to pay for the convenience of a comfortable garage, gave thanks for my luxury in a gym membership. giving thanks became my practice every time i paid any fees, tolls, or bills.

january and february turned into march and then april, and it was time once again for me to account to the IRS for my income and my taxes. in the previous year i had been unable to pay all of my taxes by april 15 so i had negotiated a monthly payment plan for my unpaid portion. another april had arrived and i anticipated the need for a similar arrangement for another year, expecting the many thousands of dollars already paid to the IRS would not cover the full amount needed to cover the tax year.

just before the april deadline arrived, however, i was invited to make a presentation to an audience in the northeast for a couple of days, an engagement that would pay me a couple thousand dollars. just enough, of course, to pay the remainder due on a certain tax bill. as i completed my tax forms and wrote my check, i was delighted to be able to pay my bill without incurring IRS debt. i was so pleased to make my payment in full that it never occurred to me to complain or grumble about the cost of my tax bill; i simply gave thanks. reflecting upon it later, i realized that practicing gratitude in paying something as small as 50 cents for parking had resulted in natural gratitude in paying a couple thousand dollars. how lovely my new practice.

it seems to me that paying for something is a gift. the requirement to pay for something is a gift to us. our requirement to pay is a call for our participation. our paying for what we have and what we do becomes our interaction. i am being asked to participate, and participation in life and participation in the earth is such a beautiful thing.

my story doesn't end here, though.

several weeks after paying my taxes, i received an envelope from the IRS, an envelope that contained a correction to my tax calculations and a notice that i would soon receive a check from the IRS. several days later i received their check, a check for nearly exactly the amount i thought i had owed them and had paid them in april. once again, i found myself in a position of gratitude.

and i can only sit and wonder.

No comments: