Holidays to different locales provide sustenance in different ways. Some vacations de-clutter and relax the mind, while others fill a sense of adventure or accomplishment. Some holidays provide time for families to enjoy each others company and play together uninhibited whilst others are more solitary and feed the inner-self. Italy did it all.
In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what kind of holiday this was going to turn out to become. 11 people. 3 generations. 7 adults and 4 kids all with verbose opinions. I’m sure we provide a lot of fodder for the likes of Russell Peters and similar artists.
All kidding aside however, the most unexpected and ergo marvelous part of this trip was my serendipitous love-affair with all things Michelangelo. I knew very little of this artist. Probably no more than my what I remembered from Mrs. Lloyd’s Modern Western Civilization class back in High School. But let’s be honest, Grade 12 was over 20 years ago and details on these types of stuff were at best, fuzzy.
So let me fill you in on my own transformation or ‘re-birth’ if you will thanks to Michelangelo. Reason 1. DAVID. Yes, I know we’ve seen pictures of this on postcards and advertisements and I’m not sure about you but I (and this is really opening up about how ignorant I was prior to this trip) had NO idea that the DAVID that Michelangelo sculpted more than 500 years ago, was the David from David and Goliath. His stance with the slingshot over his left shoulder and stones cradled in his right hand looking into the distance with his pensive glance is supposed to represent the moment just prior to him confronting Goliath. If you know the story of David and Goliath, you know the meaning. It is the triumph of the Underdog over the Bully. I’ve taken out the religious context here and really oversimplified things but to me, this is the gist.
When I walked into the Academia and faced DAVID, I literally stopped in mid-stride in awe of this sculpture. The only other time this has happened to me was when I was a teenager and went to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. DAVID is a sight to see. He is 17 feet in height and is physiologically about as descriptive as one can get with a marble medium. Forget hair, eyes, contours of his body and facial structure, the man has veins and ripples in his chest that are so humanly accurate you have to wonder about how in the 1500’s a person was able to learn, understand and apply the anatomical elements with such scrutiny onto a marble structure.
Second. The Pieta. Again, one piece of marble to make an astonishing Mary and Christ. He was 24 by the way when he sculpted this. Not sure about you, but I was barely able to walk and chew gum at the same time when I was that age. We pat ourselves on the back for getting a University education or landing a job. This guy was sculpting a piece of art that together with his other works forged the course of humanity’s history. How’s that for jaw-dropping.
Third. The Sistine Chapel and the Last Judgment. To quote Goethe, “Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving.” His work is raw, powerful and controversial for reasons that are still argued about today. But through it all he stood by his work from start to finish and did not waver from his point of view. How can you not admire, respect and be in awe of such a person.
What Michelangelo has done for me is that he has given me hope. He is a sign of what we can do if we choose to apply ourselves to our craft with utter conviction, hard work and love. If I can learn that lesson at this stage in my life and teach it to my kids at the tender ages of 7 and 4, I think this holiday has paid for itself multiple times over.