07/26/2010 11:13 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Il Farniente When Times Get Tough

Sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing at all. And during these times of fear and insecurity for many, it may just be the sanest thing to do. Leave that money in the bank. Don't try to over-do anything. Stay still. Meditate.

Like the eye of the hurricane, it is stupid to go outside and check on the damage. The (financial) storm ain't over yet! Only those who had not lived through a hurricane before, (or had not taken heed of the stories of those who are older and wiser) went out during the eye of the storm.

This does not translate as being afraid but rather as being wise. All of those folks who think that they are getting a deal right sifting through the rubbish now for a cheap buy have not seen the way the second half of the hurricane whips around almost out of nowhere, and does much more damage than the first bout. One has to look beyond quick fixes and fast cash.

Read books. Read Upton Sinclair and George Orwell. Read history about the 1930's, the Weimar Republic, and a LOT about China (I recommend Sterling Seagraves' The Power on the Rim). Watch old films (they are almost always better than new ones! And often play in those tiny art house cinemas which need your support!). The best one I have seen lately was Hitchcock's last film made in the UK before moving to Hollywood (and I would argue better than what came later). It is called, "The Lady Vanishes"...and the hints of what is to come is very similar to what is going on today. What is most wonderful is that the hero is an old woman. Old people know a lot! Listen to them! If we were to go to war or through an even more serious Depression, I would want to have the advice of old folks who have been through it before, not some young know it all who could not survive without a television or convenience store!

I actually have some faith in the fact that the hardest hit areas which have had to bet on resilience and sometimes doing nothing at all will come out ahead first. As with leap-frog technology in the poorest parts of the world, there was no infrastructure there to begin with and people just had to make do. We don't know how to make do anymore...or very few of us do. And we don't know when to simply slow down and stop.

Making do has to do with living with less, but that does not mean life is less worth living. During the last big hurricane which hit Houston, my parents were reachable afterwards via a cell phone charged on the car battery. And when I spoke to them each day, they sounded so calm, happier than usual, reading and dining by candlelight, sitting out on the back porch until the sun went down. Sleeping when it was dark and enjoying the hurricane barbeque dinners with their neighbors.

Life slowed down. The television didn't work. They were reminded of their childhoods when there was no air-conditioning and people simply lived at the pace that made sense in the hot and humid South. (Thank God my sister provided the coolers full of ice!)

There was time to visit and do farniente..which is my personal goal for the last half of my life. Not to do nothing, but to remember to do nothing...which is the time when inspirations are born, and life and loved ones are appreciated the most.

It takes a lot of effort to try to control all the time, focus on profits and growing even when it may be time to think smaller and more sustainable. There's so much waste when energy is expended turning nothing into nothing and all those extra zeroes are still...nothing.

Look around at all you already have, and learn how to make do.

It's all about Balance. And sometimes it's about...Nothing at All.