Beyond Brushstrokes

A long spell far away from the madding crowd and the circus of politics is what we need. The past years have brought difficult challenges — emotional, physical, and mental. There have been major health issues for some people, separations, death, and financial downturns for many others. These events have caused anxiety and depression.
Who really wants to read the hard news in the papers or watch TV? Unless one is equipped with a mind of steel and a heart of iron. Sometimes, one should switch off and decompress.
There various ways — big and small — of coping and overcoming. It’s a matter of attitude and perspective.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh once wrote, “Existence in the present gives island living an extreme vividness and purity. One lives like a child or a saint in the immediacy or here and now.”
The short cut is a daydream — time off from toxic demands, heavy pressures, and worries of life. The best feeling is temporary release — from the time pressure of calendar and schedule.
One sheds the defensive armor and social mask. Temporarily, one sets aside the must-dos and forgets the sensation of being pulled apart A moment of beauty is precious because it is ephemeral.
A crystalline snowflake, a luminous double rainbow, and a glowing moonbeam vanish with a blink of the eye.
One cannot easily replay a special feeling or recreate an awesome scene. Things always change, including ourselves and the way we perceive things,
A frosty winter melts away as the temperature rises. (It is sizzling and scorching outside.) The icicles on the branches and the snow on the hills melt. The white powdery blanket evaporates into a veil of mist and vanishes as the sun breaks through.
The promise of new life comes as the white dogwood buds and tiny leaves sprout gently. The cherry blossoms burst into a cascade of blush and bright pink. Butterflies burst from their cocoons. Robins chirp and soar to welcome the cerulean blue sky. Summer splashes verdant greens and brilliant blooms on the landscape. Chipmunks and squirrels scamper to the tree trunks. A trio of deer and fawns peek through the shadows of the trees.
Then the vestiges of summer fade. The mid-morning sizzle and glare mellow into the patina of burnished gold. The haze and humidity evaporate. After sunset, the temperature drops by 20 degrees. Autumn blazes across the countryside. The breeze rustles the leaves of trees. The landscape turns gold, copper, russet, orange and crimson.
One longs for a prolonged daydream of intense colors and subtle shades to luxuriate in. In the mind’s eye, one sees blazing sunsets, falling stars, and celestial lights.
Alas, one awakens reluctantly to a harsh reality, a surreal nightmare.
Devastating storms and floods have surged relentlessly — aggravated by wars, landslides.
In times of calamity, the best and the worst come out.
Everyone pitches in to help, through private institutions, corporate foundations, civic organizations, NGOs, Red Cross, Rotary, Zonta, the Church and schools, local governments (LGUs).
Some political opportunists use the crisis for photo ops and self-promotion. Many dubious looters seize valuable emergency kits and food that should be distributed to the victims and displaced, homeless families. There are cases of big fund donations that are not recorded when received. Lost, misplaced, or diverted to other accounts?
Then we see the beauty of bayanihan, the spirit of helping others without counting the costs. There are corporate and private benefactors who prefer to remain anonymous — big-hearted donors and eager volunteers (like student chefs) who give their time, energy, resources, and relief goods until it hurts their pockets and their bodies.
A relatively young NGO — the Art Relief Mobile Kitchen (ARMK) — is worth commendation. Artists, writers, photographers, photojournalists chefs, moms, musicians, lawyers, medical doctors, a lady polo player are members. They all came together spontaneously (during typhoon Yolanda), to cook hot meals to feed thousands of people at the Villamor airport and at disaster-stricken areas. Friends have always donated their funds. They continue to cook near the sites (Mayon Volcano and Marawi in Mindanao) wherever they are needed and they leave the kitchen equipment behind so that the displaced, hungry people would have food and be self-reliant.
Musical artists and dancers have donated their talents at concerts to raise funds and to receive goods. Media companies — TV, radio and newspapers donate free airtime and press space for appeals.
There have a series of disaster and crises over the past decades.
The most well known was typhoon Hainan/Yolanda. The foreign rescue missions came from friendly nations for logistical and medical support. The Pope came with spiritual blessings and moral support.
Disaster victims need protection and food. They have to battle the elements and fight diseases such as dengue and stomach disorders.
We should brace ourselves for tough times.
The best we can do, as concerned citizens — between storms, heat waves, droughts, wars, earthquakes, and other calamities — is to keep giving and working together. We should to say a collective prayer that we cope, survive, and remain resilient. We should learn from our past mistakes, set aside petty politics, and move forward.
The translucent rainbow will always appear. It is the sign of the divine promise and hope.
Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.