“Nothing will ever befall me that I will receive with gloom or a bad disposition. I will pay my taxes gladly. Now, all the things which cause complaint or dread are like the taxes of life — things from which, my dear Lucilius, you should never hope for exemption or seek escape.”SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 96.2
There are two things which are certain, as the saying goes. Death is inevitable, and that almost goes without saying. The other thing which is unavoidable is taxes. Today is “Tax Day” in the United States, so it’s a timely quote and it’s probably on your mind.
The famous quote (about death and taxes being certain) is generally referring to taxes we pay to the government. And the author of The Daily Stoic has a nice little summary in today’s entry about why we should be happy and grateful to pay those kind of taxes, instead of complaining about them. We are fortunate indeed, in the way he outlines it.
But the other meaning of taxes is what I’m more interested in: the “taxes of life” as Seneca calls them. Ryan Holiday has a nice little breakdown of these types of taxes too. Essentially there is always going to be a ‘cost of doing business’ in every area of your life. There are inefficiencies and disagreements and losses everywhere — it’s just part of life, and we are fortunate to be able to participate in the first place! These tariffs remind us that we are alive.
I like how Seneca said, “Nothing will ever befall me that I will receive with gloom.” No matter what fate delivered to him, he refused to complain about any of it. Not even taxes. He said he was glad to pay his taxes of life.
And so should you pay your taxes, happily — for it means you’re alive (for now) and lucky enough to have something worth taxing.