I know a woman who cannot forgive her mom for something her mom did 25 years ago. I know the story, and I understand why it caused her pain, but there’s no point. In the end, she’s fighting with a ghost.
Her mother is still alive, but that mom, the woman who wronged her, is long gone. She looks much the same, but she is a different person from the one who wounded her child. If mom is sticking to her opinion, and her way of expressing it, my friend has a beef with the mom she knows today. If not, though, she’s volunteering to demean her current relationship in the interest of…what? Does she love the pain that much? Is she a big believer in parallel universes where the same person can exist in multiple forms? Is she stuck in a Schrodinger time warp herself, existing as both the person she is today and the person she was a quarter century ago?
I’ve written before that the worst days of your life can also turn out to be the best days, that a setback in one area can create an opportunity elsewhere. Recently, my daughter recalled the time I declined to increase her allowance in college, which led her to find a job, which led to her finding an internship, and a job, and a career… There’s no way to know how things would have turned out if I had acquiesced and increased her funding. Maybe better, maybe worse, but we’ll never know. All we can say now is that things turned out well, so far.
The same applies to my friend, whose attachment to the memory is likely an indication that the incident affected some of her follow-on decisions in life. She’s doing quite well now, so how can we be sure that the sting from her mom didn’t, somehow, improve her life? It’s possible that she made some changes in how she talked to her mom, how she treated other people, how she made decisions that led to more decisions that led to now. As with everything in life, you can’t get one without the other.
I’ve written before about the importance of moving past the missteps, acknowledging that people can grow as they learn more, encounter more, and empathize more with other human beings. During the quarantine period, I had the “opportunity” to review some of my earlier writings and some family videos that I would absolutely not share with anyone today. They aren’t incredibly terrible, but I cringe just a bit at my lack of awareness and the limits of my vision.
As uncomfortable as I am with those entries in my permanent record, though, I’m also gratified to see them. These reminders of my earlier worldview are a marker for my evolution since then. I’m still a work in progress, but I have absolutely grown wiser, more insightful, less judgmental. Or so it seems to me.
Just like my friend’s mom, I cannot go back into my own past and unsay anything. I cannot change the views I held or the way I expressed them. I cannot undo whatever harm I might have caused someone when I was a child and spoke as a child. All I can do, now, is to work on the person I am today and avoid the impulse to do battle with ghosts.
The past has passed, but the future awaits, including oodles of ideas from the team at Dad Writes. Click here to subscribe and never miss a missive.
For the first time in my life, I’m feeling sorry for the people in the human resources department. I’m not talking about the challenges of finding workers in a rebounding economy, though. Really, I’m feeling their pain as they plan to bring workers back from their couches to their cubicles.
Companies large and small are demanding that employees return to the Mother Ship, possibly now and definitely by September, and you can measure the grumbling on the Richter Scale. People will be showing up angry and resentful, and it’s going to be the HR department’s job to rebuild cohesive teams.
Good luck on that one.
After 18 months of remote control, America’s workforce is about to be reintroduced to traffic jams, parking fees and doing laundry more than once a month. They’ll suddenly remember why they hated Eleanor from accounting and why everyone was in a big hurry to use the restroom before Fred arrived at the office. It won’t be pretty.
At the very least, HR departments can alleviate the pain by installing Keurig machines at every desk and keeping the lights as dim as possible. Beyond that minimum, it would be an excellent idea to avoid “team building exercises” and “social interactions” for at least a couple of months.
Meanwhile, returning workers should do their best to adjust their own expectations and behaviors in this brave old world. For example:
Welcome back to the office, everyone. What could possibly go wrong?
Employees aren’t allowed to clip their toenails at their desks, but reading Dad Writes posts is absolutely encouraged by HR departments everywhere. Just click here to subscribe.
My mom gave me a bunch of mail to look over and I was very, very impressed. Little did I realize that she is one of the most influential people in the country.
It must be true, though, and the United States Postal Service has delivered the proof. Every day, she gets a package with “Official Documents Enclosed” and an urgent request for her views on matters of national importance. And it’s all be hugely confidential, as evidenced by the warning that, “It is a FEDERAL OFFENSE for anyone other than the person listed below to open this letter.”
Clearly, she is so influential that companies are willing to offer her big bucks to give them her advice. Here’s an offer of a $100 gift certificate if she merely stops by for lunch--free!!--and shares her opinion about the newest in hearing-aid technology. I’m not sure why they need to ask, since the letter says 100% of patients are approved for these new devices, but clearly my mom’s opinion is just that important.
And so many checks, she must be in the 148% tax bracket by now. Here’s an envelope with “retirement benefits documents enclosed,” and you can see the check right through the address window. It turns out it’s just a picture of what a check might look like if she signs the petition and returns it before the deadline, but when her signature sways Congress, it’s raining Benjamins at her place.
Actually, there are a ton of letters like this, alerting her to the urgent crisis that could lead the federal government to reduce her Social Security check or fail to increase her Social Security check or delay sending her Social Security check. All is not lost, though. If only she signs the petition and returns it with seven bucks, or $25, or agrees to have her credit card dinged for a monthly contribution, or puts me into an apprenticeship program.
Here’s an urgent plea for a response and a donation of at least $15, “because some people in Washington are talking about cutting your Social Security benefits.” Well, I don’t know who those “some people” are, but they are a clear and present danger to say the least. Golly, I wonder if these fine organizations are reaching out to other elderly Americans, or if they are just relying on my mom to handle the burden?
Either way, I have nothing but admiration for all the groups protecting my mom from the financial catastrophe that awaits if she fails to sign the petitions, and I know it comes at a great financial cost to those organizations. One guy is courting bankruptcy, apparently, by springing for the postage-paid reply envelopes that accompanied his letter.
I really felt bad for him when I read, “The extra postage is an expense I really can’t afford right now,” In fact, he continues for several paragraphs about the burden of paying for return postage. Later on, though, he says a donation of $14.55 will enable him to send another 26 petitions to 26 other seniors. So, that’s 56 cents per envelope? Well, no wonder he’s going broke on this crusade. Some other guy sent a survey and he says he can send out more petitions for only 45 cents each. Maybe they could compare notes.
It’s heartwarming to know these selfless individuals and organizations are working tirelessly to take care of my mom and, I suppose, millions of other retired people. Obviously, they are in it for the public good, not profit, as shown by their willingness to lavish her with gift certificates and postage-paid reply envelopes. Anyone who doesn’t believe in guardian angels should just read my mom’s mail and they will see the light.
Please forgive us for spending so much time bragging about how popular mom is. We promise not to do it again if you’ll just click here to subscribe for future, less boastful posts.
Ignoring the rest of the world, a break for working stiffs, and our surprise when normal things happen…
It’s Independence Day and, like all loyal patriots, I will spend the day at a public reading of the Declaration of Independence, followed by a reenactment of the signing.
Hah! You fell for that? No way, Joseph. Like all my fellow countryfolks, I’ll spend the holiday at a barbecue, consuming huge amounts of food and way too much beer. Then I’ll look for the closest fireworks display and spend the night watching stuff go boom.
Even in our polarized nation, great holidays like Independence Day bring us closer together. I once argued with my neighbor about the relative merits of Maker’s Mark versus (boo, hiss) Crown Royal, but it’s really hard to keep up the rancor when you’re stuffing your face...and in a stupor.
That’s why we need more holidays in America and not just “historical” holidays like Independence Day, Juneteenth and Mother's Day. We need new holidays that celebrate all that makes our nation special today and every day. At the Holiday Viability Assessment Laboratory at Dad Writes, our research team has identified the ten holidays most worthy of celebration in coming years, including:
Have we missed anyone? Let us know your recommendations for new holidays and we will add them to the list that we deliver to Congress by way of our lobbyist friends on K Street. We can’t wait for the parties in 2022.
When Dad Writes receives the Medal of Freedom for our leadership in the holiday sweepstakes, subscribers will be invited to the ceremony. Don’t miss your chance to be part of history. Click here to subscribe now.
Through an unusual sequence of events, I ended up investing in a small company alongside a famous financier. It’s kinda cool, since it makes me sound like I must know something about investing, but let’s just say it’s more serendipity than strategy.
Of course, if you want to think I’m an investment genius, that’s okay, too.
Anyway, I was comparing notes on the situation with a friend who's plugged into a lot of business deals, and he expressed some views about how to work with, or around, the big dog in this deal. I took his words to heart, considered how I might respond to various actions, and then I had a flash of insight.
My friend doesn’t know this other guy and he hasn’t worked with him on any deals. He was making some assumptions about the way a wealthy investor would act in various situations, but my friend really doesn’t know one way or another. He could be right, or not, but there’s no reason for me to accept his ideas with any sense of certainty.
But that wasn’t the real flash of insight.
The real lightning bolt was that I was now accepting one of those conspiracy theories that I rail against all the time. I was taking his opinion as fact and incorporating that “fact” into my plans. I’m on guard against this all the time, pointing out the failure of skepticism that turns my friends into chumps, and it took all of ten seconds for me to take the bait from a friend who has solid credentials…but no specific knowledge.
See how easy that was? A person with some standing in the world, maybe a doctor or a public official or a celebrity, presents a statement that’s really just an opinion and we add it to our arsenal of 100% true facts for future discussions.
The reason it slips by us so easily is that we’ve been learning this way all our lives. Mom said something when we were six and we’ve never questioned it since then. We watched a "based-on-a-true-story" movie five years ago and we believe we know all the details. Intellectually, we recognize that we don’t know which parts of the movie were fact and which were fiction, but we have nothing in our brains to refute any of the facts(!?) presented on the screen. Almost everything we think we know about the outside world comes at us this way.
As is often the case in situations like this, my friend’s predictions have not come to pass. He made a general observation that seemed more credible to me because there was a specific name attached, but that didn’t make his observation any more valuable than a general statement from my dry cleaner.
If my dry cleaner had said it, though, I would have discounted the view immediately as coming from someone who isn’t in that particular business. Because my friend is in a related field and knows many investors, I gave him more credence, which was more credence than appropriate.
Lesson learned, again.
The next time I buy into an urban myth, or a rural myth for that matter, our subscribers will be the first to share in my embarrassment. Doesn’t that make it worthwhile to click here and subscribe to Dad Writes?
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.