Sunday, June 03, 2012


Moving on to the values section of the series.

Sometimes I have a difficult time describing richness.  Sometimes I feel like it's something that I appreciate but don't do enough to cultivate or exhibit in my own life.  It can treat one or more senses, but richness is something you can feel.

When I speak of richness, I'm not talking about money in any way - I'm talking about a craftsmanship, texture, layers, depth.  I'm talking about walls that aren't white, gray or beige, crown molding and recessed lighting, a song that makes excellent use of a symphony or orchestra.  It's a garden full of color, plants of differing heights and colors mixed together carefully to produce a pleasing display.

Richness, to me, is careful cultivation.  It's planning.  You can see that effort that was made.  It may not always be to my taste, but it's something I can look at and see that careful thought went into the effort.  

Richness strikes a fine balance in its attention to detail.  Too restrained and it becomes stark, too haphazard and it's just clutter, or worse yet, Shabby Chic.

People can also be rich, too, in a depth of character.  Not in pretentiousness or in busyness (my trap), but who can be counted on for their consistency, so that every time you learn something new about them, you see how it just adds a new layer to the richness of who they are.  I'm afraid this is a much more difficult task for introverts like me, but it is possible.

The opposite of richness is apathy or even thinking it's good enough - when it really isn't.

It's mass-produced goods designed to not break until after you've lost the receipt...'s the lack of pride of ownership in a car (unfortunately, my car needs a wash and vacuum but you can tell it's my car, it matches me and I mostly take care of)...'s doing nothing to make a house or apartment (or workspace) into a home.  This isn't about spending money, it's about showing your personality in the space you live...'s mass-produced synthesizer and drum-machine backed auto-tuned vocals by someone who simply looks good and is shoved into a studio by money-grubbing marketers who know how to give them 12-minutes of fame before everyone realizes they've been had, or the person opens their mouth and makes you embarrassed that you ever associated yourself with them by liking their music... can even be shoving page 6 of the Crate & Barrel or Ikea catalog in your living room without understanding why it works so well in the catalog and not realizing how poorly it works in your living room...

It's a lack of attention to detail, a lack of care or consideration to function or form, it's whatever happens when you cut corners, don't invest in it, when you don't care.  When there's no continuity or design or consistent theme through your presentation (your work, or how you present yourself to others, etc.)  You're just going through the motions.  (This is where I get caught up, as I've talked about in other posts, about finding the right point where "good enough" truly is great enough.  Not perfect, but a point where to do more doesn't add value or ultimately detracts.  I guess this is also why I'm going through this exercise - to find myself and see if I'm actually living in ways that reflect the things I value.  Richness is definitely an area I need work, my wardrobe being a great example of an area where I'm sorely lacking richness.)

The interesting thing is, there are shortcuts to richness.  We have some craftsmen furniture with wood inlays.  I don't think they're real, but they still look good and we've chosen color for the walls to tie everything together (we still have some white walls - some by design, some because we're still trying to figure out what to do with the really awkward space).  We also have a large area rug under the table also to continue the mood we're trying to convey. I can't remember where we purchased it, probably some big box home improvement store.  But you know what?  The pattern and coloring respect far more expensive pieces - the designers understood the laws of the aesthetic and applied them correctly.  It's clearly not an expensive piece, materials-wise, but it still has richness.  With kids and being careful with our money, sometimes small trade-offs have to be made, I guess.

But it is possible to produce richness by leveraging the thought and effort of others and adapt it for yourself.  Just so long as you make it your own - when you steal or don't understand the idea (or the laws of the aesthetic) you're attempting to emulate, people can tell.
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