new year. new promises. it’s that time of year again, when we take stock of our lives: reflect on the blessings and isolate the areas for improvement. we resolve to exercise more. eat healthier. save money. give time—to friends, family or whatever it is you neglected over the course of the previous year.
for most of us, the annual period of self-reflection is not about reinventing oneself, but rather, just striving to be better. it’s not about perfection, but perspective. perseverance. perpetual discovery. not an end goal, but a process.
in reflecting on it, my mind immediately went to florence. go figure: new year, rebirth, the renaissance. but what specifically came to mind were the figures above: “i prigioni” (the prisoners), amazing unfinished sculptures by michelangelo. they sit, unassumingly, in a long hallway of the galleria dell'academia that ultimately leads to the iconic masterpiece, david.
while thousands of people each year stampede forward, striving to experience the perfection that is david, many overlook the beauty of a different kind. beauty that stands in contrast to the gorgeous, idealized statues that adorn every other inch of the hall.
the prisoners are rough. slabs of carrara marble with human forms struggling to break free. in fact, it was michelangelo’s belief that he didn’t sculpt figures into marble at all: he liberated them out of it. chipping away slowly and artfully to expose the being within.
they’re moving. in flux. unresolved, yet full of potential. unfinished works of art.
much like us. perfection is an ideal. a goal to strive for. a source of inspiration. but it’s not real life—with its bumps, hard edges, blemishes and barriers. it’s not about the end game, but the process. each year, each day, both successes and failures help us to chip away, to unearth, to unleash what is captive within us.
hopefully it’s a little bit stronger. a little bit wiser. a little bit better you.