Beyond Brushstrokes


“Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with what we have rushed through life trying to save.”

— Will Rogers, American comedian

Time is precious and elusive. It is the element we seem to have so little of.

The awareness of time changes as we grow older. Children and students feel that time crawls — when they are in school or when they are waiting for something that they like. Vacations seem too brief. They vanish in a flash.

It is a matter of perception.

We all suffer the pangs of meeting deadlines.

“Hurry? I never hurry. I have not time to hurry,” Russian composer Igor Stravinsky replied to his impatient publisher.

It seems that we have little time — to do the thing we want to do. Preoccupied with things we must do, we multitask, and compress our schedules to fit in all the appointments. There are deadlines for major projects, power point presentations, manuals, reports, charts with minute derailments that require total focus and energy. Not to mention the extracurricular civic activities and obligatory social functions. We have to make time for the family and a few close friends because they are essential.

Deadlines are the bane of most creative people who write, paint, compose, design, direct, act, and produce. The media reporter, essayist, and columnist share the same pressures. The creative juices and adrenaline do not flow in the system unless the deadline approaches. Then the mind and heart jumpstart the process.

Time seems to dissipate so quickly.

Some trivial matters tend to creep in and crowd the schedule. Theses must be filtered, minimized or deleted. Distractions cause procrastination. One makes excuses for postponing. The date for the submission of an article or story appears so far into the future. Or the opening date of a play or concert or exhibit is far away. It can wait. One procrastinates a bit, gets distracted (deliberately, at times) by other events.

Until D-day looms. Panic!

Thomas Henry Huxley, a 19th century British biologist, once dashed into a horse-driven cab and ordered the cabman to go at “top speed.” The cabman cracked his whip and the horse jumped forward. Huxley asked the cabman, “Do you know where I want to go?” The cabman explained, “No sir, but I’m goin’ as fast as I can!”

When one is in a frantic frenzy, it is necessary to pause for a moment. An old proverb says it well. “What is the use of running when you are on the wrong road?”

Type-A personality characters are hyper, driven, and could be afflicted with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). There is intense pressure to achieve multiple goals, beat the competition, and stay on top. Staying afloat amidst the crisis is the focus. Most people have difficulty slowing down. It gets to the point that the body’s immune system suffers.

An occasional journey to another dimension, in time and space, is one way of stepping off the grinding pace of life’s treadmill. A mini retreat does wonders for the mind and body. Stepping back from the battlefield is an essential tactic for survival and wellness. One needs to recharge and nurture the spirit. It is time to weigh one’s options and choose one’s battles.

To assess and adjust, review, calibrate, and focus one’s priorities. The challenge is in cutting the excess (such as the “wants” and the luxuries) and to learn how to simplify things.

The brave new world is obsessed with materialism. People get bogged down with angst and baggage. They become self-absorbed, isolated and unable to connect meaningfully. One solution is to break out of that confinement, to reach out and do something for someone else, for others. This could be through the simple selfless act of helping a friend in need.

On a higher level and on a larger scale, it could be to devote some energy and time to significant service through a civic group or a humanitarian organization. Whatever one does for others would have a ripple effect that would make the world a better place.


Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.