I went to lunch today with my best friend who suggested that I set aside an hour a day to write. I have been encouraged by so many in the past year and especially in the past few months to just WRITE! I’ll try to explain my writing as best I can, and as I explained it to my buddy. “Did someone point to a canvas and tell Van Gogh to paint A Starry Night?” That was my first response to my best bud. I followed with this little story. One day I was bumbling around Florence, Italy without a map (which is the very best way to bumble). I would study about what I saw, of course, but in the moment, I just wanted to absorb every single brick, statue, street, smell the veal cooking, taste the wine and be amazed. In my wandering, and because a creative mind might see things just a little differently, I noticed a long, very old building with a covered walkway. The building itself was nothing spectacular. The roof over the walkway was held up by a series of archways. In the early afternoon light, these archways threw crescent-shaped shadows across the tile. That’s what caught my eye. Not the building, not the arches, but the beautiful design that the light played on the tile. Had to get a picture…or many…now. I quick-stepped to the arches and then through them onto the walkway, the shutter of my old Kodak clicking crazily, capturing shadows. As I stood there inhaling light and shadow, I noticed a small, rather inconspicuous sign next to a doorway. Squint. I stepped closer. “Admission – 50 lire”. Admission to what? Who knew? Thinking, “Okay, I’ll bite…”, I stepped inside, gave a thin, expressionless attendant behind a podium my fifty lire. No pamphlet? No brochure? No headphones? “Dove?” I asked her. “Where?” She stood there, stone-faced in her spiffy little red bellman’s jacket and pointed to my left. (I get impatient when I don’t get anticipated information, and I was on the edge of cranky.) I took approximately 20 grumpy steps when the room opened up and there before me was Michelangelo’s “David”. My breath was sucked out of me with pure, unadulterated awe. I had just bumbled into the famous Academia which houses some of the finest renaissance and pre-renaissance works of art in the world. I had studied Michelangelo, written papers on his life and works, and I was acutely aware that the magnificent sculpture before me was created when the sculptor was 26 years old. It has been written that he picked out his marble from the quarries in Carrara personally. They (the infamous “they”) say that he could see David within the block of Carrara marble and “simply” took away whatever wasn’t the David. As an aside, I would like to note that I brought some Carrara marble home with me from that trip with the intent of sculpting it. After all, it’s in my genes, right? I ruined every chisel and sculpting tool I owned and couldn’t even scratch it. It is very, VERY hard, which explains how it lasts for centuries, but how that 26 year-old genius put a dent in it, I will never understand. I went to the town of Carrara in northern Italy and watched them cut and shape the slabs of marble for shipping. They did it with water. Sigh… I spent a good hour staring at the David. I eventually remembered to breathe. Every vein in every arm, finger, leg and throughout his body was revealed by the veins that ran through a giant, rough white block of Carrara marble. It is nothing short of miraculous when you view the detail up close and personal. I finally broke free of the masterpiece, only to find another and yet another; On plaster, on canvas, on wood, gilt in purest gold, the Muses looking down on me from their giant canvas (bigger than any two walls of the room where I now sit), the Madonna and Child throughout the centuries by various artists and scribes, in every medium and at the very back of the Academia…Michelangelo’s unfinished works. Unfinished. Unfinished? Why? An arm and a thigh jutting out of a block of Carrara, and part of a head. Perfect in every way. Why did he stop? Did the Caesar call him away? (“Michelangelo, PAINT!”) Did it just not come out the way he thought it would? Did he go blind or die before he could finish? It was at this point of the telling of my “bumble” that my buddy asked me, “Did someone ask him to sculpt The David?” No. He did it because it came to him. Through divine providence or pure creative genius it appeared in his mind and in his soul. He did it because he SAW it and then he HAD to make it real. I am no Michelangelo. No one is. But something in me understood that he saw it and HAD to do it because that’s how my writing comes to me; not because someone admires my work or tells me to do it. It is simply there and I have to, or it isn’t. It’s that simple. Those of you who know me well also know I’m a bit over a year into finding myself with four English Mastiffs. You may read that again for confirmation. Four. One 210 pound therapy dog with a paw that I’ve nursed, one rescue who had a knee replacement and a tail amputation and two spankin’ new puppies who will also become therapy dogs. I haven’t felt free to go into my cave as I am now, but I promise you this. I see things hidden in the marble of my life and they WILL come out. Thank you all for your patience.
In the Marble