I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. – Michelangelo
I found my journal from my first trip to Italy when I was 21. My intent was to share with you some highlights from my 6 weeks there. It was truly one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I got to spend 3 weeks in Florence and 3 weeks in Rome doing nothing but studying history, architecture, sculpture, painting…all things art that came out of the Renaissance and Baroque period in Italy. And I got to do this with one of the most brilliant professors I have ever had, Dr. Vernon Minor, and even better, I was roomed with the girl who came to be my best friend, Amy Helmer.
However, as I was reading through my adventures, I came across this little metaphor I came up with. So, not quite as light-hearted as I was intending, but I was just struck with how similar I am to that younger very sensitive, very dramatic, hopeless romantic. But I also realized how much I have changed. I am still all of those things, and those characteristics don’t always serve me, but I am now also confident and courageous enough to share the other parts of me that aren’t perfect. Even after falling to pieces, I have always had the strength to pick them back up and recreate my work in progress.
I definitely am not perfect. And there are many cracks that cannot be ‘fixed’ or smoothed over. But, as I have said before, perfect is not interesting to me, not at all.
So, here is a little window into the mind of a very young, very naive, very love struck 21-year old me.
July 3, 1997
Say you were in the shoes of a sculptor. No one famous or even known for her talent, but she has passion and determination. She has the necessary materials, tools, and marble, maybe not of the finest quality, but she makes due. She begins to sculpt. She spends what feels like a lifetime working on her piece. She makes sacrifices and spends countless hours alone, struggling to perfect what she hopes to be her masterpiece. Finally, she feels like her work is ‘complete’. It is not perfect, by any means, but she sees the beauty of her creation.
It is now time to find someone with whom you can share it. And you do, almost instantaneously. He seemingly came out of nowhere as if summoned. You have so much love and respect for him, it is his and only his opinion that matters now.
You unveil your piece and wait for his response, hardly able to breathe as he studies her. But you know, you see it on his face. He understands. He loves her down to the smallest detail- her feet, her hands, her smile, her radiance. He loves her so much that he wants to be a part of her, to add something to her that he believes will make her even more precious.
You hesitate. If he changes her, she will no longer be all yours. Maybe what he does will hurt her. But you trust him so completely that you hand him a tool. You watch intensely as he begins to chip away at her.
It was such a small alteration, but he was right. She seemed to come alive. He knew exactly what to do to make her complete- more beautiful…to make her perfect.
He leaves and you are left alone with her. You study every new detail. Everything about her feels different now. And then you see it. A small crack. You grab your tool and frantically try to fix her. But what you are doing is making it worse. The crack spreads and takes over. You watch helplessly as she starts to fall apart.
You try to stay calm. You try to think of a solution. You know she isn’t destroyed. It is still possible to start again and rebuild her. Or is it? Would she ever be the same? Would she ever be as beautiful? How could she be perfect again if he is no longer a part of her?
And what if you could actually bring her back to her original beauty, how could you ever trust someone again to get close enough to experience her? If no one sees her, could she ever truly have value?
You hate him for what he has done, and then feel guilty for hating him. You know his intentions were good. Weren’t they? He didn’t know what he did was going to hurt you…did he?
You try to convince yourself that even if what he did made you fall apart, you saw perfection. You were perfect, even if only for a moment, even if there was no way it would last.
But it doesn’t work. You hate him. Because he did this. You hate yourself. Because you let him.
And now there is no one there to help you pick up the pieces.