Monday, April 13, 2009

Death and Taxes

Tonight I need to e-file my children's tax returns. I don't know how I became their "H & R Block" but I am stuck this year. Before I do it though, I want to spend a few minutes (five or more) thinking about death.

According to someone named Karma from Bhutan in Geography of Bliss, one of the secrets of happiness is spending at least five minutes thinking about death each day. This requirement is in sharp contrast to the Martin Seligman et al research that says you should think about three things a day for which you are grateful to be happy. I think, after a tough day at work, I will do both.

Thinking about death does not seem to be as hard as the gratitude piece. Death is heavily in my thoughts these days. I was listening to The Story of My Father by Sue Miller on the way home and had just reached the part about her father dying when I passed a little league practice. My mind flashed to the two young men in the car accident with Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart on April 9, 2009. Both of these young men played baseball with my son when they were about 8 or 9. The team was the Reds in the Mustang level of Pony League in Manhattan Beach. My son had just come off a season of being on an all-star team but found himself sitting on the bench on this team. The coach did not play everyone even though these were very young boys. He played his own son. He also played two of the stars of the team--Henry Pearson and Jon Wilhite. Both boys later played high school baseball at the local public high school. My son played on his private school team and decided not to try out when he transferred to the same high school. Wilhite went on to play in college at Cal. State Fullerton--a major baseball power--and even played in the college world series. It appears that Pearson did not play in college and instead worked on his dream of becoming a sports agent. Pearson was in the front seat with the driver, Courtney Stewart, in the accident last Thursday. Both were pronounced dead at the scene and Adenhart died later in the hospital. Wilhite is in serious condition at UC Irvine Medical Center according to an AP article.

I read Pearson's obituary in the local paper this morning. I saw his picture and Wilhite's picture and remember the little boys that they were. My son was not friends with either of them over the years. He only knew them on that one youth baseball team that was so painful for us at the time because our son did not play much that season and we believe everyone should play in those types of teams. Now those concerns seem trivial in the face of loss of life.

I am grateful that my son is alive and in the other room playing with his children. I am grateful that I am able to feel sorrow for others' losses. I am grateful that I still have to file tax returns because I would not like to deal with the alternative.

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