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Oct 7, 2011

Taxes in the State of Crazy

Because of what I said in my Fair Warning post, I’m reluctant to share any details about why things didn’t work out for me and my almost-future-spouse. However, when confirming personality traits that one knows will be seriously problematic, the stories which script the evidence can be wonderful material for an HBO stand-up comedy special. And I suppose I’ve always been a fan of dark humor.
However, it is probably inappropriate to expose those details through this portal into my private life. And I truly have no reason to cast a dark shadow on my former partner. There’s a quote which fits my point, but I cannot recall who said it. Allow me to paraphrase: Never speak evil of another without knowing whether it is true, and even if you know that it is true, ask yourself why you are speaking it.
As wonderful of a person that she really is, like all of us, she had her flaws. Those flaws fell in areas which were simply not manageable, tolerable, satisfactory (whatever the word) for what I needed in a wife. And as I stated earlier, the anecdotes that revealed the truth became amazing bar tales, which is where you’ll have to hear them from me after paying the price of a beer for admission. I’m sure stories about my behavior are being sold for a price elsewhere as well.
But they are funny. And they’re sad too. That’s the secret of dark humor. As I recounted some of the recent events and explained that I was deeply sad over how things had gone, a co-worker noted, “You are the happiest sad person I know.”
The truth is I am happy. I avoided making a huge mistake which likely would have drained me in ways which would have been devastating. But I am also immensely sad. I invested a startling amount of hope and emotion for something that will never come to fruition.
Another important truth though is that I harbor no ill will. I’ve stated it several times how important I believe it is to forgive and truly let go. Forgiveness is not condoning the harm, but more dismissing oneself as judge and jury. Perhaps even denying oneself the spectator seat as well. I know so often we won’t take the vindictive action ourselves, but we wait and watch, hoping for karma to pay vengeance on our behalf. This is not healthy either, and probably not what lives in the heart of the true forgiver.
However, along with “not condoning the harm” goes “still having to suffer the consequences.” Those may be from the other person, from me or from the combination of just being together. But they don’t just disappear when the other person goes away. And this is where the dark humor has its value – because the coins are already spilled.
The coins are a parable of personal experience I tell my daughters. When I was 20ish, I owned a 67 Mustang, 3-on-the-floor, V8-302 engine with a 9-inch posi in the rear. It had some serious power and could run the quarter somewhere around 13 seconds. One day I gathered all my loose change to cash in at the bank, placed all those coins in this large beer stein and balanced it on the floorboard of the car. I drove so carefully from the house, as to not spill those coins. However, at the first intersection to get on the highway, I turned the corner too fast and the coins scattered everywhere.
I laughed hysterically. See – it was funny; irony is a great source of humor. The consequence remained regardless of my response. Whether I laughed or I cried, I was still going to have to pick up those coins. It was just easier to take on that task while recognizing the comedy of it. It was about my attitude not the task – as so much of life truly is.
As I got older, I forgot about the coins and became distressed and depressed over a great many things. However, I’ve had many reminders lately, my recent break-up being one of them. My response could be anger, writhing in the injustice. My response could be depression, pitying myself for how things never work out for me. My response could even be spite, hoping and praying that she experiences the same pain and disappointment. But those are all taxes in the State of Crazy.
No, my response will be to laugh, remember the greatness, beauty and wonder of what we two shared. I will smile and be grateful for the opportunity of so many happy moments. I will bask in my reminiscence of the sensual intimacy we once shared. But I won’t pay those taxes.
And just for the record, I am the resident in the State of Crazy.


  1. I like your story about the coins. :) As Charles Swindoll said (and has been quoted by many), "We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.”

  2. What I really take from this post is the importance of acceptance - of allowing ourselves to non-judgmentally accept what our lives present us with. This isn't the same as resign - it doesn't mean that we won't work to change things (e.g. not picking up the coins after they spill), just that it doesn't do much good to bemoan the reality of our life situations, however good or ill they seem to be. Acceptance frees us up to do what needs to be done, without wasting time on self-pity or shaming ourselves. Thanks for this post, and I'll try to remember it when my own stein of coins spills.