Before this article has taken shape I already fear it shall veer off course. I intend to bring a positive and enlightening perspective to the two most clichéd and most inevitable elements of the human experience. Two elements which have gained a rather sour reputation… death and taxes.
I don’t recall ever participating in a conversation where somebody declared warmly “I am so stoked that I paid all my tax this year. On time and everything. Not to mention the privilege of paying the GST which has been subtracted from basically every transaction I have ever made. Wow. How fucking cool is that!” Nor have I ever sat with a group who discussed openly how excited they were for the inevitable day in which they would be pinched from reality.
Is it because death and taxes are tragic and horrible only? Or is it because through many passing generations we have come to learn that death is awful and paying tax is a burden? Or is there perhaps an evil corporation who is responsible for us being so frightened by these two most inevitable elements in this lifetime. Conspiring to rob us of the joy we can potentially achieve day to day thus buying stuff in the meantime so they get richer? Or maybe I should put down the magic mushroom milkshake and get back to work?
I have heard the word resistance used by many other individuals who I have rubbed shoulders with along the path to seeking a higher quality of life. Not to resist your current life circumstances or outcome of any events but to dance with them instead. It seems a common theme in many spiritual teachings. For example, are you single and pining over the cute couple holding hands as they stroll down the beach? Perhaps you can embrace the freedom of not having to be considerate of another’s needs and lay back on the couch watching cheer-leader videos online. Ever wished you could bite into a hot slice of pizza but all you had available was a shitty nutritious apple?
Resisting the reality of “what is” can cause tremendous amounts of un-necessary suffering if you remain unaware. This is not a supporting argument to finding a ‘silver lining’ but rather a simple acknowledgment that there is no need to further heap misery on top of an already uncomfortable circumstance. Wish you had a better car? Do you spend countless hours stressing that you may never be wealthy enough to race around in an upgrade? Or perhaps you move quickly into a solution attitude and start shifting your priorities so that you may perhaps one day indulge in this luxury?
Is our cultural attitude toward death and taxes hurting us un-necessarily? Is it possible to lovingly embrace tax? To see it as a privilege to contribute to the community which provides a range of residential dwellings to choose from amidst a host of public services such as education and health. Which by the way, you inherited just by being born here? Or maybe death is no longer something you dread because just having been given a window to dance the human experience is enough of a gift. So though you grieve for the passing of a loved one, you take time also to acknowledge the beauty in experiencing sadness. Revel in the warmth of recalling the intimacy of your relationship with the departed.
These philosophical ponderings are not merely random heavings from my busy mind. They have come to my personal contemplation in recent times. Let me set the scene…
I was walking through the supermarket of a Saturday morning. I felt tired and distracted. There was heaviness in my chest but I was not sure why. Rather than resist or attempt to avoid this discomfort I breathed it in confidently. Soon enough it become very obvious. I was sad. Very sad. Not for a specific event which had taken place recently or in the past. Just fucking sad. Like some days when you’re just fucking happy.
Luckily, under the guidance from mental health professionals in recent years, I have been encouraged to recognise and process feelings which are usually labelled as bad, wrong or unpleasant. So here was my opportunity. Sadness was with me and after clumsy practise in recent times I felt confident to participate in a ritual to set the sadness free. It involves salinated water flowing from ducts around the eyes. Can you guess what happened?
After my ritual, I felt strong and secure. More comfortable as a young man than I ever had in years previous to being able to grieve. I allowed reflection of past tragedies and accumulated pains of reality to be physically digested. It was fucking awesome!
I believe that I am of a privileged minority of young men who have ever found the tools to participate in such rituals maturely and free of fear or judgement. So WTF does this have to do with death and taxes?
I only learned this process of handling the taboo male emotions: I didn’t figure it out. I was guided by professionals and am now confident to move forward without the burden of grief that drags down so many great men. I feel I am ready to look at death objectively, without judgement and perhaps encourage others who have been so brutally wounded by its injustice. I am excited by a future where the cultural expectations of men to “suck it up” are addressed maturely and with pride. Peace.