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MUSINGS ON DEATH, TAXES, THE DALI LAMA AND BUD FARMER
Old Cowboy: Bank Langmore: Montana 2007

Death assumes a finality of something. For us, that would be the body. One assumes from untold thousands of years of observation, the corpse decays. Even the most elaborately preserved Egyptian mummies don’t look great. Jesus is the only one reported to have walked out of a tomb, and one hopes that his Loving Father did not allow him to do so ghastly, tortured, and scared.

 

For me, when I leave, I am not keen on taking this body with me. There are some things I would like to keep, but I would l prefer longer legs, slimmer ankles and less propensity toward gaining weight.

 

Because I like the idea of reincarnation, I have been endlessly interested in the story of the initiation of the Dali Lama. The new Dali Lama must be the incarnation of the former Dali Lama. So when the Dali Lama passes, some of his favorite things are set aside. It is then necessary for a candidate for the next Dali Lama to pick out items of his former life from a group of objects.

 

Does that mean that even though I can’t take it with me, I can come back and get it? I am rather attached to some of the wedding presents we received fifty years ago, as well as my grandmother’s jewelry. However, my grandchildren might arm wrestle me for some of my stuff. Even if I tell them that I am the reincarnation of their grandmother, they might not believe me. I could ask them to save some things so they could identify me and give them back.

 

When in the bardo, the transitional state where in I am pure consciousness and not attached to the physical, unlike the Dali Lama, I may not want to come back to the same place. So, I guess I don’t even want to be stuck with having to come and get my things, especially if my heirs treasure them.

 

If you stay married to someone for fifty years, it may mean you have been together before. My husband and I will probably have some kind of arrangement for the next time around, even if unspoken. Today he is plugging away, at his office, working on our tax returns. I am sure he feels taxes are as inevitable as death.

 

Our infrastructure is crumbling, so where is all that tax money we pay for maintaining our highways and bridges? The Roman’s wisely had an alternative to taxes. When they were out of money, they just plundered something. In 50 BCE, Julius Cesar found Gaul to be a lucrative target. But, Roman style plundering is outdated. Plundering 2011 CE may have a different face.

For our neighbor next to the Diamond A Ranch, Bud Farmer, death is a consideration, but never taxes. Bud and his kin live on 160 acres their great- great grand father was awarded for service in the Mexican American War. A single gas well on their property provides enough money for ad-valorem taxes (with an accompanying agricultural exemption). In exchange for not setting our pastures on fire, the clan hunts deer on our ranch. Shoes are nice but not necessary, and boots can always be re-soled.

 

Telephoning for fish supplies additional food. The Farmers have old crank telephones with leads they drop into the water. Cranking the phone shocks and stuns the fish, grabbed up as they float to the top.

 

Bud says that he plans to go out a million-dollar-man. This is a reference to the fact that he currently owes the regional hospital over $900,000.00 in unpaid medical bills. I envy, Bud Farmer’s freedom from shoes and taxes. No matter how much tax we pay or how often I go to the spa or beauty shop, when I die, I probably won’t look any better than Bud.

 

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Carol Aldenhoven

Carol Aldenhoven McKay
Author: Blood and Silk: The Hidden Love Story of Mary Magdalene and Jesus of Nazareth
Friesen Press, October 26, 2010