Beyond Brushstrokes

On a practical level, people need essential things to survive: clean air, potable water, food, clothing, shelter, and the means to buy the basic things.
There is a difference between living and surviving. To live well, people need purpose, love, companionship, family, material resources for a certain quality of life, meaningful work, culture, sports, spirituality, humor and pleasure.
Money can bring comfort and luxury, novelty, excitement. But it cannot buy love.
“Life is what happens when you’ve planned something else,” wrote Scott Peck in his book Meditations.
During a season of prosperity, there is exuberance with optimistic projections and high expectations. Fashion trends have flashes of opulence and flamboyance. Minimalism is overshadowed — for a while.
Consumer spending and conspicuous consumption increase. The attitude is “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” People are buoyant.
The cycle of life is such that there are lean seasons when the charts point a downward trend.
The fragile bubble bursts in a tragic cloud for fear, gloom, and anxiety. It spells trouble for those who had gotten accustomed to the high life. Those who have overspent, or have big debts, leveraged their investments. A recession, mild or radical, causes the collective mindset and consciousness to alter radically.
Focus shifts back to the basics — survival, recovery, restoration and healing. This process takes a long time. There are hard lessons to be learned.
In the past catastrophes and financial crash of hedge funds and other complex financial instruments, people were shocked from complacency. The ripple effects of terror affected the world.
There have been reactions to the prevailing mood of uncertainty.
Some people become reclusive or paranoid. The carefree ones are in denial and carry on with their merry ways.
The pragmatic ones adjust and adapt by scaling down.
Downsizing becomes a buzzword.
Simplicity is in. Excess is out.
The defining line between what is good taste and déclassé is clear; the French describe anything superfluous as de trop — too much.
During the hard times and prolonged lean season, it is appropriate to be low key.
In lieu of the much-publicized glitzy balls, there should be exclusive elegant dinners or tea musicales. Instead of fashion extravaganzas, there should be intimate shows, civic group luncheons, art fairs, and well-curated classy bazaars.
It’s a reality check.
Less is more.
It is possible to celebrate life with subtlety, sensitivity, and delicadeza.
The current crisis gives us time to pause and reflect.
One can learn to be less self-centered and less self-absorbed. It’s a matter of being detached from the material objects that we crave or can’t seem to live without.
“When we cling, often forever to our old patterns of thinking and behaving, we fail to negotiate any crisis, to truly grow up, and to experience the joyful sense of rebirth that accompanies the successful transition to greater maturity,” Mr. Peck explained.
Anthropologist and author Angeles Arrien wrote the following guiding principles:

1. Show up.

2. Pay attention.

3. Speak your truth.

4. Don’t be attached to the outcome.

We should think about the essential values and what we can do to make life better for others.
Beyond the numbers, the bottom line, charts and profit margins.
Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.