Enlightened by taxes and complaints about who should finish them

“He should have finished it by now.”

Have you ever had this thought, that someone else should have completed something….but they haven’t?


When I was at the School for The Work recently, I did many of the exercises even though I wasn’t always in the room with all the participants, and had duties behind the scenes.

It was wonderful to sit down and fill out a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on a situation with someone close where I felt troubled by their action, words, appearance, behavior, communication.

Maybe I reacted with a harsh comment, or surprise, or disappointment.

Anything at all….if it bugged me, it was worth looking at.

Hmmm, what to investigate? I suddenly had the awareness of the thought that someone I know should have finished a certain project by now.

OK fine….it was my husband and it was about our taxes for 2016.

He should have finished them! Six months ago!

You might find anyone in your life where you think they should have finished something by now: children finishing homework or chores by now, friends should have called you back by now, family members should have arrived by now, neighbors should have finished using your lawnmower by now.

And it’s stressful.

I had the incredible opportunity to take a very close look at this particular thought and worksheet with someone facilitating me right there at the school. Nothing better for deeper inquiry than having someone sit with you and ask the four questions–especially if they listen, don’t offer any advice, and avoid lots of discussion.

I loved being able to close my eyes, and answer the questions, in the quiet of someone listening closely without speaking: Is it true he should have finished the taxes by now?

Yes! I’ve never asked for an extension in my life. This is nuts. I’ve never paid a late penalty. So true.

But can I absolutely know it’s true HE should have finished the taxes?

Um. Gulp. No.

Because he hasn’t. And it’s not like he was assigned to them by the master of the universe and he’s the only one who could do the job. In fact, I’ve done my own taxes every year of my life since I started working. I did the taxes through my first marriage, then when I was single for five years, and for the first several years of my newer second marriage.

Who hasn’t finished the 2016 taxes?

Heh heh.

I can’t absolutely know it’s true HE should have finished them.

How do I react when I believe he should have?

Pissy. Complaining. Waaah. I wanted him to take it over. Tantrum. I don’t want to do it anymore. I hate taxes!

I suddenly realize I have still have an unfinished unquestioned oppositional attitude toward taxes. I believe they aren’t fair. The government is taking my money. They don’t support the small business owner! Fist in the air!

I liked taxes better when I was an employee and the taxes just seemed to secretly get whisked off in little payments through paycheck withdrawal, and voila it was done at the end of the year–I never had to write the government a check.

I realize there’s something about that method of not noticing tax payments I really liked and miss. It felt like the money was never mine in the first place, so it was fine to have it subtracted from my paycheck. I was very used to only the take-home pay portion of my salary, as they say.

So here I am arguing with numbers. I’m arguing with how I have to be my own employer and have an attitude of helping me take of bite-sized pieces of dollars, and send these to the government every month.

Gosh, never thought of that.

I was asking my husband to finish taxes and be the one completing them and paying them, but what I really wanted him to do he could never do: make it so I don’t see the taxes due at all. Make it so I don’t get all upset about writing checks to the government.


Who would I be without this very stressful story that he should finish those taxes NOW!?

I’d go home and finish them myself.

I’d write a worksheet on taxes and get my head straightened out about them, because I want them to be smooth, simple, and I want to be an on-time citizen and stay within the law.

I don’t want to demand someone else do what they aren’t doing.

That’s insane, and very aggravating.

Turning the thought around: he should NOT have finished the taxes by now.

How could this be just as true, or truer?

Well, first of all, he hasn’t. He couldn’t have without my input either–I have records, receipts, invoices, expenses–all kinds of things to double-check. He also shouldn’t have finished because it shows me I’m having a hissy fit internally about taxes, and being grabby about keeping “my” money. I think it’s too much to pay. I’m anxious about not having enough. I seem to dislike the thought of writing checks to the government.

A bit of internal work to do in the finance department in my mind.

Another turnaround: I should have finished the taxes by now.

Well here’s the crazy realization: Almost seven months has passed since the official due-date of taxes in the USA. I have been sitting here slightly fuming, worrying, then completely ignoring them almost the whole time.

What a nut case. I could have easily seen they weren’t going to get done by April 15th by my very busy husband who kindly said he’d do them because he wanted to be supportive. I saw it wasn’t happening, and could have organized my daily work so I could get them done. Instead, I blamed my husband.

At the end of this inquiry, my lovely facilitator said “Isn’t it funny you’ve let all these months go by without ever doing The Work on this–and I see from your badge that you’re on staff!”



My facilitator and I had a good laugh.

I love how “staff” is the same as everyone. One mind, questioning the thinking that hurts.

Sometimes, apparently, the urge to ignore something overrides the clarity of inquiry. It appears I have been more interested in complaining about the taxes and arguing with reality than questioning my thoughts about them.

Must be the perfect time, though.

Any sooner would have been too soon.

Because if it should have been sooner that I realized I’m resisting taxes, that too would be an argument with reality. I had to argue with them as long as I did.

“The job of the Buddha is simply to pick up the garbage, to do the dishes, to sweep the floor. In this, he changes the world a little bit for the better…..The world penetrates you, and seeing the garbage becomes a moment of grace. There’s nothing that can’t enlighten you, because everything is perception.” ~ Byron Katie in a Mind At Home With Itself

My job is simply to do the taxes. Seeing the taxes as they are is a moment of grace.

Enlightened by taxes….who would have thought?

Much love,


4 Replies to “Enlightened by taxes and complaints about who should finish them”

  1. Another great Grace note! Grace, what I love about you is you are authentically, completely honest! I love that we can laugh at ourselves, and this is so pertinent to me for two reasons: 1) I used to do my taxes by myself, until I let a dyslexic first ex-husband do them after which I was audited for 3 years!! and 2) I’ve been filing by the last due date in October, late always, since then! So I like you went deeper to the real “villain,” the US Government! Very good underlying belief catch!

  2. Such a great post. It reminds me of all the times that I would rather be right about my belief then free of my belief. But, when when the time is right to inquire, it’s a blessing.

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