April 15th: The Tax Man Cometh

Ok, so there’s no getting around it: today is the day when the piper must be paid. It’s one of those realities where obeisance is due if we choose to partake of a civilized society. The great maw of public spending demands to be fed 24/7; have you thrown your paltry coins into the dark pit? And when you do so, how does that make you feel? Relieved? Resigned? Proud? Upset? All of the above? (Maybe I’m the only Grumpy Gus about this.)

 

As with any social contract, you give and you get. Things get tricky when your assessment of the contract demonstrates that the scales of exchange are seriously imbalanced. But, participating in such a relationship rarely comprises a simple one-to-one reciprocation; in fact, I believe that if things devolve to a point of tit-for-tat, the affiliation is in serious trouble. Of course, there’s no “market evaluation” for the value of personal relationships; appraisals are made of a case-by-case basis over the lifetime of the exchange. But what if the appeal or payout of a particular social contract shifts downward to the point where you’re no longer sure you want in, what, then, do you do?

 

This is where re-booting comes into play.

 

Like our life-long relationship to the Government, not all of our associations are severable. If we wish to remain within the community of civilized men—where people don’t boo and throw things at us as we walk down the street–we gotta pay to play. Not all of our associations or choices will render what we consider a satisfactory rate of return. Think of difficult marriages where the partners remain conjoined; siblings who are inextricably involved in each another’s lives; business partners who drive one other crazy. Everyday, people choose to recommit to difficult associations that tax them, but the key word here is choose. They choose to do so. They choose the status quo. To them, the price associated with de-coupling is even more onerous than the price for staying put. And that’s ok, because they’re making a conscious choice; but they need to be honest with themselves about it. They need to assess the pros and cons with a clear head and a calm heart, because the piper will be paid and the payments only get larger over time.

 

Of course, we all know that social relationships are not a one-to-one exchange. They often impact multiple players who get dragged along as collateral. Re-booters may not be able to eradicate the inefficiencies or occasional dishonesty that intrudes into important relationships, but what they can do is change the way they think about the exchange. Instead of getting upset each time the other person ignores you or says something thoughtless, perhaps you recalibrate how much you value what they say or do. Someone who once held a lot of sway now has less. The result is you have made the choice to stay together, but you have also modified how much impact the offending party’s behavior has. You’ve essentially recalibrated the relationship scale. Does that make sense? What I am suggesting is a coping method designed for those who have chosen to remain in a social contract which no longer pays out the way it once did. Pay offs come in many forms, of course and it’s up to each of us to determine what that is for us because any choice we make (whether to be with someone or to be alone, to remain employed or quit, to cling to memories or let go and begin anew) involves a tax. It’s part of the bargain we make when we are born.

 

So, to circle round and finish off this post, the Tax Man is here and he is hungry. I hope you’ve planned ahead and have your set asides ready to go because he’s collecting whether you are ready or not. However my guess is that as a champion re-booter, you’re prepared. You’ve made peace with this exchange and devised a way to get something satisfying for your trouble. At least that’s the goal. So get out there, pay the piper, and get your money’s worth…

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