Anecdotes From Italy Part 1

The David really is a “Wow!” Being half-Italian, I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to travel throughout Europe and see the finest works of art. And I can point to exactly three times when, upon seeing something, my mind and soul exclaimed, “Wow!”

It can seem odd – to have such an emotional response to a sculpture. After all, there are two other life-sized replicas in Florence and countless souvenir statuettes and photos. The David is easily one of the most famous works of art in the world. But turning that corner of the corridor in the Galleria dell’Accademia to behold him for the first time is simply a breathtaking experience.

I also find it interesting that such a magnificent piece carries some profound life-lessons. When Michelangelo was asked how he was able to create such a masterpiece, Michelangelo replied that he did not sculpt the David – the David was already in the block of marble. Michelangelo simply sculpted away everything that wasn’t the David.

How beautiful is that? By that logic then, we can assume that we, too, are already magnificent masterpieces! There is nothing we need do to “fix” ourselves. The only thing we need to do is sculpt away that which is not authentically us – and Life gives us plenty of opportunities to do that.

My other favorite story is about the David is his “big hand.” It’s very easy to ask why everyone calls the David“perfect” when it’s clearly obvious that his right hand is disproportionately large.

When the David was commissioned, its intended location was atop one of the buttresses of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore as one of twelve sculptures depicting the Old Testament. Consequently, Michelangelo sculpted the David’s proportions with this location in mind. But when it was completed, the Florentine authorities quickly realized that there would be little hope of raising the six-ton statue to its intended location and placed it in Palazzo Vecchio instead.

Now that the David rests in the Galleria dell’Accademia, the leaders took great care in designing that “first look.” They created a corridor forty feet long – the exact distance from the ground to the David’s intended location. Although they could do nothing about the height discrepancy, they were successful in creating a “Wow!” moment.

On November 12, 2010, a fiberglass replica of the David was placed on the buttress of the cathedral for a single day. I’m still looking for photographs of that moment. And I am confident that when I find one, David will be absolutely perfect in all proportions.

I love these stories because they remind me that not only are we already perfect, but that if we are seeing ourselves as anything less than perfect just the way we are, we just must be looking at ourselves from the wrong angle.