Devil's Head Diary

Definition Depends on Perspective


An early spring sailing regatta out of Shilshole Bay got me thinking about reassessing my definition of fun.

I am a light-breeze and sunshine sort of girl, and this was a cold, blustery, grey day, rain was sheeting off my Tilly hat and I was chilled to the bone. Was this supposed to be fun? We had just rounded the mark, only one boat was ahead of us, and we were picking up speed. In a flash, I realized that this was the exact definition of real fun.

Sometimes the personal analytical process takes longer. Considering the irksome things in life — how many of them could be improved simply by rounding the mark and seeing things from a different perspective? It could lead to a redefinition of all sorts of situational elements. Having a clearer, cleaner definition of the odds keeps me from getting stuck rehashing what is and what was, and forces me to define what could be. Such a re-evaluation can provide the insight and basis for discovering “the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.”

According to Douglas Adams (as revealed in “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) the answer is of course 42. Adams averred that the answer is so elusive because “The Ultimate Question itself is unknown.” I disagree, for me the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, is simply, “Does it make me happy, or happier?”

Frequently, redefining the situation can brighten one’s outlook. For instance, we have all just come through the dreaded tax season. Few people delight in forking over their hard-earned shekels and choose to feel resentful about the redistribution of wealth. If this is your gripe, it may be time to redefine the situation. Start by standing up and claiming credit for the good your tax dollar will do. Feel free to demand public acknowledgment of your contributions to the common good. The simple solution is to exert your power by redefining the situation.

Frankly, in the whole scheme of things, the measly amount of tax I pay into local, state and federal coffers is quite insignificant. This may be true for you too. Therefore, it seems reasonable to me that I owe it to myself to define how it is to be spent.

For instance, I object to subsidies for the tobacco growing industry, so years ago I decided that I would not contribute to keeping those farmers afloat. Until they decide to plant something I can eat, they will have to rely upon someone else to pick up the tab. I heartily approved of the 2004 legislation to phase out tobacco subsidies completely.

Unfortunately, tobacco growers, particularly in North Carolina and Kentucky, were bankrupted by the inability to export tobacco to China due to COVID-19 restrictions and certain trade agreements. Sadly, in the spring of 2020, congress passed the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2, and tobacco subsidies were reinstated. I feel that this action was simply a ploy to gain votes before a hotly contested election but, who knows?

On the other hand, there are subsidies I wholeheartedly support. My budgeting process is admittedly selfish. One example is my commitment to the National Endowment for the Arts, which produces a direct return on my investment. Because others also contribute, I pay about 32 cents less for my season tickets to the opera and the ballet. It’s the American way — me first!

I would gladly allocate more to the arts for my entertainment if I didn’t derive so much pleasure from visiting National Parks, and seeing the results of environmental restoration. Social Services also get modest support because I don’t want to feel guilty about being heartless.

On the local level, when the upgrades — curbs and sidewalks — were completed in our nearest downtown non-incorporated rural community, I didn’t publicize it but feel free to thank me because I paid for about 2 7/8 inches of the rebar in the southern-most curb of the grocery store driveway. I’d like to thank the rest of you who anted up to finish the job. However, I suspect that several people neglected to pay attention and let their tax dollars be squandered on some project elsewhere in the county instead of keeping it local.

A gentleman once attempted to convince me that taxes didn’t work that way, that I could not control how my tax dollar was spent, the government took the money and spent it as it saw fit. I countered his argument by explaining that when all the tax money was dumped into the pot in Washington, Olympia, or Pierce County, no one could tell which dollar was mine, or which dollar was his, because dollars all look the same and are valued the same — a dollar is a dollar, is a dollar. I explained that it was a personal choice. While he was free to let the Ubiquitous They decide where his dollar went, I determined how my dollar was used.

It may seem a bit underhanded, but since nobody can really tell where my tax dollar goes, I have the freedom and power to invest in activities that please me. I opted not to point out that those faceless governmental decision-makers actually work for me.

By the way, another investment that pleases me is my contribution to the upkeep of local roads. I believe that only the most obtuse driver would want to share the road with a pothole-dodging little old lady. Feel free to thank me for being so considerate and caring about your safety.

Carolyn Wiley lives quietly, for the most part, in Longbranch.