Fishing For Soul

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The Soul of Money: A Tax Day Tribute

One year in the late 1990’s I waited until the very last minute to do my taxes. As the midnight deadline approached I found myself at the main post office on 33rd St. and 8th Ave. in Manhattan with hundreds of other procrastinators wondering why I’d waited so long to take care of that annual ritual and why I let it cause me so much stress. I asked myself the same thing yesterday as I sat with Arnold, my accountant, watching him do what he does so well: my taxes. I’m happy to report that my stress level was minimal this year despite my late-night number crunching on Monday and occasional, fearful thoughts of an ‘outrageous’ tax bill. Sitting on the floor surrounded by receipts I noticed how easy it had been to get all of the items together, how organized I truly was, and how I even enjoyed seeing those numbers in front of me. That’s progress, folks!

In years past I have allowed my fear of money to rule at tax time. OK, let me be more honest. My thoughts about money have made me sick. “There’s not enough” was a favorite and deadly mantra. Money was my higher power. There is still work to do there, but it is such a relief to not beat myself up for hours with the ‘should have, could have, would have’ crap. I used to believe that money would make me better, more valuable, more impressive, more lovable, and certainly happier.

As Byron Katie (yes, I adore her!) says, “How do you react when you believe the thought that if you had more money you’d be happier? You get to be unhappy now. You get to put your life on hold until you have more money. It’s so much easier to be happy now.”

In the book The Soul of Money, author Lynne Twist offers valuable insight into “the connection between money and a fulfilling life.” The Soul of Money examines what true prosperity is. As an executive of The Hunger Project, an organization dedicated to ending world hunger, and as a founder of The Pachamama Alliance, an organization dedicated to empowering indigenous people to preserve the Amazon rain forest, Twist has been in touch with some of the world’s poorest and richest people. In Chapter 6, titled What You Appreciate Appreciates, she writes:

“When your attention is on what’s lacking and scarce – then that becomes what you’re about. You engage in lack and longing and what’s missing, and you call others to that same experience. Those thoughts and fears grow from the attention you give them and can take over your life. No amount of money will buy you genuine peace of mind.
If your attention is on the capacity you have to sustain yourself and your family, and contribute in a meaningful way to the well-being of others, then your experience of what you have is nourished and it grows. Even in adversity, if you can appreciate your capacity to meet it, learn, and grow from it, then you create value where no one would have imagined it possible.”

And so it is.

Thanks to Arnold, Fred, Lynn, Eduardo, Robin, Rosa, Byron Katie and everyone else who made the 2008 tax season easier than ever.