Is the dim light of dawn, before sunrise, “too early” to go for a walk? Does coffee actually “taste good” at all? Is a desktop 3D printer “worth the money”? Am I “beautiful”? Am I “fat”? Am I “stupid”? Is that remark on the tip of my tongue “in good taste” or “hurtful”? Is that bag of groceries “too expensive”?

…Is this a moment I can afford to waste on trivia?…

It’s a matter of perspective in every case, and for each question that I’ve listed so far, isn’t it? Is there a single objective truth answering any one of these questions? I don’t think there really is. Perspective is a tricky piece of adulting. We seem to develop perspective over time, and if we’re fortunate we begin from a helpful place with parents, educators, and elders, leading us through learning, with great care to “stay real”. Doesn’t happen for everyone (that’s pretty “real” all by itself), and certainly a great many human primates reach adulthood either lacking any sense of perspective, or mired in weird distortions created by emotional chaos, thinking errors, and misinformation. Perspective is a big deal.

The dim light of dawn, before sunrise, is “too early” to go for a walk, if the path will be treacherous, slippery, or known to be the active hunting territory of a cougar. Certainly there’d be better times to walk such a trail. On the other hand, given a level paved suburban “trail” through a safely lit park, in the company of a friend, maybe not so hazardous after all?

Which one is this?

Coffee only “tastes good” to those who have a taste for it. Just saying; if you don’t like coffee, no, it doesn’t “taste good” at all. Hell, I enjoy a good cup of coffee – and I not-uncommonly quaff a cup that is… just not good. So… yeah. Perspective weighs in, again.

I suppose, with things like “affordability”, the questions are very relative. A desktop 3D printer is probably super affordable given adequate income, bills all paid, surplus resources, or a likelihood that it may itself become a source of revenue. It wouldn’t be “worth the money” if viewed as an entertaining toy coming out of a limited budget that would result in not paying the bills, or not being able to buy groceries, or fill a prescription for life-sustaining medication. There’s definitely more to “affordability” than the price tag of an item.

Beauty, and the evaluation of beauty, is so incredibly subjective and individual. Am I beautiful? I sometimes think so. Sometimes other people say so. My mirror doesn’t lie to me, though, and I am an entirely ordinary-looking middle-aged woman. What is “beauty”? If it is a feeling and sense of self, I could easily call myself beautiful and feel that I truthfully am, most days. If it is a practical matter of size, shape, symmetry, and fashionable aesthetic? I’m most likely not even “pretty”, “cute”, or “attractive”, to most people. I’m just a 58-year-old woman with a few extra pounds. I’m sufficiently comfortable with who I am and how I look that I don’t make any practical effort to change it with cosmetics, and that works for me. I like comfortable.

The “fat” and “stupid” questions work a lot like the “beauty” question, really; they are subject not only to my own perspective, but also to the subjective perspectives of others around me. Am I fat? Well… I guess, yeah. My doctor would use medical language to say as much, and my health would benefit from losing some weight. A male friend of many years acquaintance would disagree; he likes the aesthetic, the softness, and the hug-ability of a plump woman. Is he wrong? No, just has a different perspective on the matter of weight and fitness. Similarly, if I am having a conversation on a topic I know well, with someone who knows much less about it, I may sound very smart. On the other hand, if I were to attempt to chat up a physicist by fronting and showing off how much I know about physics? I’d sound very stupid indeed, and I’d look a major fool. Very relative. Standing alone in a room considering all of what I know in the context of all there is to know, I’d hesitate to call myself “smart” – there is so much more I could learn, know, or come to understand. šŸ™‚ I’d also hesitate to call myself “stupid” – that there is vast knowledge available, and I only know a fraction of it, is not the defining characteristic of stupidity in my dictionary. (Your results – and your dictionary – may vary.)

Is the remark on the tip of my tongue “in poor taste” or “hurtful”? God damn, it sure could be. I hope it isn’t. I’ve grown a lot over the years, and it is not my way to hurt people carelessly (or by intent, generally), or to present myself in a way that is objectionable for people to be around. I would not even be “the one” to get to decide whether a remark is in poor taste or hurtful – that would need to be decided by the recipient, or the individual I hurt by it. In that instance, it is their perspective that matters, not mine.

Groceries can be expensive. Sometimes that is a matter of perspective, sometimes it’s just a painful punchline to a joke that isn’t funny in a life full of struggle. “Can I afford groceries for my family?” is a question I hope none of us this morning has to ask. Wishful thinking. No doubt someone out there is very worried about this question, and it’s a legit source of stress and heartache. Perspective, here, is more about getting through, getting by, and for those of us not facing that specific struggle, perspective has to extend to being kind at the check out line day-to-day; we don’t know what that other person is truly going through.

It’s a strange time. The pandemic had been seeming to recede, and people got excited (and careless). In that careless excitement lurked the ongoing hazard of new variants with new characteristics, and here we all are, trying to sort out when and where masks still just make fucking sense, and whether or not it’s worth the obvious risks to socialize in groups, yet. For me, my own perspective, it seems a bit premature. I enjoyed my coastal getaway, but I still keep my mask handy. I still avoid groups and close contact with strangers. I still avoid crowds and enclosed shared spaces. I go here or there to run an errand, but attempt to minimize my direct contact with people. I work from home and feel fortunate that I can. I hang out with my Traveling Partner, so grateful to share this peculiar time with this singular individual, fortunate to live and love with a human being I value and enjoy. Feels weird to have moved to new community, but never dined out in one of the local restaurants, or set foot in the shops in the downtown area, but… would it be worth dying for? My perspective is that it can wait – living and loving matters more. So, I take care, take precautions, and stay mindful that this is not a universally shared perspective. šŸ™‚

I stare down into my coffee cup, and then at my to-do list for today. Another Sunday. More housekeeping. Aquarium maintenance, gardening, a quick trip the hardware store… It’s time to begin again. šŸ™‚