I ended up owing a bunch of money for taxes earlier this year and I’ve been looking for a way to reduce my burden going forward. Of course, the stock market has been helping quite a bit lately, nearly guaranteeing that I’ll never pay a capital gains tax again.
Still, I need something more certain than a stock market collapse to cut my tax bill forever and I think I’ve found the perfect venue. I’m starting a new religion, the Church of Eternal Victimhood, and I hereby declare that everything about me is tax exempt from this day forward.
I know what you’re thinking. It cannot be that easy or everyone would do it. Well, that’s what I thought, too, but the framers of the Constitution clearly wanted everyone to be free to create their own faith and the framers of the tax code absolutely insist that all true faiths be unburdened by taxes. Who am I to rock the boat by complicating things?
All you really need to form a new religion—and appease the Internal Revenue Service—is a set of beliefs that define your faith. Done and done. Here at the Church of Eternal Victimhood, we recognize that each individual is unique and precious and deserving of special care from the Supernatural Spirit that Guides our Path.
We even have a Statement of Faith to show we’re serious about this whole thing; not quite 95 Theses, but enough to claim our status among untaxed. At the Church of Eternal Victimhood, our faith is powerful and unshakeable:
Based on our excursions into social media, it’s clear that our new faith already includes millions of followers who share these beliefs. Unfortunately, almost all of them are lost souls who mistakenly assume these tenets apply to them when they really apply only to me.
Still, showing people the error of their ways is one of our most important missions at the Church of Eternal Victimhood. As soon as they donate to our new church, we are ready to inform them that they have made a big, big mistake.
Usually, we ask people to click here to subscribe when they’re done reading our posts. This week, though, we encourage everyone to join our new church and send us alms and tithes and bearer bonds to show your faith is true. Amen.
If you’re lucky, you run out of things to teach your children. If you’re lucky, you wake up one day and recognize that there are at least a few areas where they have surpassed you, and that is quite all right.
It could be dealing with extended family or maintaining friendships, work-life balance or cooking, sales or Wordle…slowly the kids turn into adults and the relationships shift. If you’re lucky, you end up in a ton of peer-to-peer conversations, where you’re sharing ideas instead of imparting wisdom.
If you’re lucky.
The idea of my kids surpassing me isn’t new. I recall thinking about it one afternoon as I was clearing the set from a theater after one of their shows. I walked out on the stage, looked across at the empty seats, and realized that my kids would be more comfortable dealing with people, more competent in a crowd, and just a bit less fearful than I was, because they put themselves out on a stage to perform in front of strangers. I knew they already had a power I would never have, or never have in as great an abundance as my teen-aged daughters.
If you’re lucky, you can watch your kids—I shouldn’t call them kids anymore since they have kids of their own—as they build a life and create a home and plot their own journeys. You can hope they learned something from watching you, paying attention to your mistakes and your successes.
You can hope they’ll avoid your mistakes, but you cannot hope for them to replicate your successes, because their journey is all about their successes now. Consciously or not, they’ve sifted through their memories and all the dinner-table conversations and set their own priorities for their lives, so any resemblance to your journey is curated, not ordained.
I like spending time with people who are younger than I am, gaining new ideas and varied perspectives about the world. I enjoy the opportunity to update my thinking, master the slang, and generally be much cooler than all the other oldsters I deal with the rest of the day. My favorite companions are a couple of women who are very smart and likable adults, generous hosts, and very open to extended conversations. Yes, I fed them and clothed them and dealt with all their nonsense for 20 years, but that was then and this is now.
If you’re lucky, you can step back one day and take a fresh look at your children. You can see them as they are now, ignoring the path that brought them there, and recognize these are adults you would like to know today. These are adults who are interesting and smart and accomplished and level-headed and a joy to be with. These are adults you can debate ideas with and share experiences with and respect as they forge their own paths.
If you’re lucky.
Some days, we just feel really grateful over at Dad Writes and we always feel very, very grateful when someone clicks here to subscribe.
The clock is ticking down and I’m not nearly far enough into the conversation.
Yom Kippur arrives tonight, culminating our ten-day ritual of celebration, introspection, and pleading, literally, for a new lease on life. The home stretch that begins at sundown includes all the stages of grief, plus fasting and a dozen hours of religious services.
At sundown tomorrow, according to tradition, we either are or aren’t sealed in the Book of Life for the coming year. Jews aren’t big on predestination, but this is an exception. As the earth spins into darkness tomorrow, the pressure will become palpable, notwithstanding any doubts I might hold about a literal “Book of Life.”
While the Ten Days of Awe are filled with rituals and prayers handed down across centuries, I tend to look at the process as a conversation with God. I’ve never seen prayer as a plea for a swag bag, but more as a discussion between me and whatever particle of God is always living inside me, waiting for me to shut up so that It can be heard. And when the Days of Awe begin, our conversation always starts with a rebuke. I open with the hope for another year and the still, small voice asks why.
“What do you mean, why?”
“I mean “why.” I gave you a reprieve last year and how did you use that gift?”
And the trap is sprung. A year ago, I apologized for my failings and asked for another chance, and I know now that I received that opportunity. But as soon as the holidays were over, life returned to normal and I’m sitting in services this year, pretty much apologizing for the same things I atoned for in 2021. And 2020. And 2019. And…you get the idea. In the conversation that matters most, at least according to our tradition, I really don’t have much to say.
If I had to boil it all down, my answer would be, “not enough.” I didn’t feel enough, smile enough, help enough, share enough, celebrate enough, comfort enough, laugh enough, savor the gift of life enough.
Or, maybe, my answer should be, “too much.” I worried too much, complained too much, hid too much, disconnected too much, insulated myself too much, and ignored the wonders before me too much. I received a gift one year ago and I barely opened the package.
That’s the most painful part of atonement to me. It’s not about all the scripture or liturgy. It’s the recognition of how much I lost, how much I simply gave up of the gift I was given. How terrible would it be I receive another year of opportunity and I squander it the same way I squandered so much in the year that’s now closed? I couldn't possibly achieve 100% of the potential for the year ahead, but I can absolutely bump up my performance if I get another turn at bat.
The conversation has continued over the past week, both within the synagogue and while walking on my way, incorporating all the aspects of values and life, people and possessions, and the greatest of gifts: time.
It’s both draining and invigorating, and it ends tomorrow night when the final shofar blast confirms that THE BOOK has been published and only one Being knows what’s in it.
The clock is ticking.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.