I mentioned a couple months ago that we hired a CPA to do our taxes this year. When we met with her, she looked at our previous year’s filing and noticed that we hadn’t taken a single deduction or write-off other than the standard deduction, so she urged us to re-submit our return and take advantage of the expenses we could deduct.
Since we discovered that going this route was pretty painless—for our peace-of-mind and our pocketbook—I’ve been going back through our old statements and receipts to go ahead and see if we can try to get a refund for that year. (Let me tell you, we paid a chunk-o-change that year.)
As I’ve been looking up numbers, going through our records and adding up numbers and tallying up expenses, I’ve found myself relishing the experience. There’s something about it that I actually enjoy.
The funny thing is that when I took all those standardized tests back in school, I always did a lot better in the Mathematics section than I did in the English section. Which for someone who has always pined for a literary vocation of some sort, that always came as a bit of an insult to me.
I always fought off the fact that I was actually good at math. I know it runs in my blood; my dad could remember calculus years after taking it, picking it back up and dusting it off like it was a favorite bicycle that he’d kept around all that time, just in case.
In high school, I even had a teacher who pulled me aside and asked me what I was going to major in at college. I told him magazine journalism. He asked—almost pleadingly—that I at least minor in math. I found it flattering, but never gave it a second thought. (I minored in political science, instead.)
But now, older and having spent my time typing and writing and reading, there’s something about the simplicity of numbers and algorithms and equations that I’ve discovered is dear to my heart.
That calculus I took in high school? Well, I never really understood the purpose behind it. But pulling these numbers together for these tax returns, lining them up, adding them up, crunching them together and getting an answer at the end? That’s a math I understand.
I sit here at my desk and page through the other return our CPA did for us. I look at the numbers and see how they add up, how it all came together. And that light bulb—rusty and laid aside for almost a decade now—flips on. It’s a light I realize, only now, that I’ve missed.
I don’t quite get the whole tax code thing, which is why we hired our CPA in the first place. But I start thinking now, maybe sometime in the future, if I ever do decide to enter the traditional workplace again, maybe—just maybe—I’ll go back to those mathematics roots that have been with me all along and give them a little space to grow. Maybe I’ll grow up to be a mathematician after all.
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