it must have been divine intervention. how could you not think so… as your eyes gaze upward, a glimpse of heaven spreading out before you. on that ceiling, the sacred stories upon which entire religions were born, all told here in radiant pastel perfection.
yet he was a man. i wondered if he appreciated the magnitude in that moment—as he rubbed his strained neck and mopped his weary brow—of what his work would ultimately become. lying on his back, painting by candlelight, reveling in periods of progress and working through setbacks on a scaffolding high above. the end result: a masterpiece. the pinnacle. his ultimate vision fully realized after literally years in the making.
tucked away in a corner of the vast vatican museum hallways, amid miles and miles of tromp l’oeil ceilings and gleaming gilded frames, is a fragment, a sketch, of a man standing, head turned upward, brush in hand.
the man was michelangelo, and the graphic replicated from a letter he had written to a friend while painting the ceiling of the sistine chapel.
a few simple strokes of black along with words penned to a friend revealed volumes about the man, behind the masterpiece.
during the creation he vacillated between utter clarity and self-doubt, pressure to fulfill others’ demands and resolve to stay true to himself. in his own words:
“every gesture i make is blind and aimless…my painting is dead…
i am not in the right place—i am not a painter.”
one of the greatest artists who ever lived, questioning, throwing punches in dark, with only his heart and the vision in his head to guide him. this beauty he created is now a beacon, yet the end product we all admire was the result of courage, endurance, guts and grit, behind the scenes. he encountered supporters and skeptics along the way, but in the end he had only one choice. to drown out the noise, all other voices—and stay true to the one inside himself.
ever since i was young, i’ve always been fascinated by biographies—barbara walters, behind the music—the story behind the story, of people who’ve reached success and fame, the so-called status of “having it all.” yet 9 times out of 10, a glimpse behind the curtain reveals that it wasn’t just their god-given brilliance or amazing talent or fate shining down upon them with good fortune, but rather their resolve: to overcome fear, failure, rejection, redemption, heartache or loss. finding their way meant walking, pushing, stumbling forward, despite not knowing what lay ahead.
when you’re in the weeds, in the thick of it, grinding it out just to get through each day, it’s nearly impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to know whether the final product will be what you envisioned.
yet despite the uncertainty, you have a choice: to stay safe... or forge ahead through the darkness. rely on what you’ve learned. trust your gut. stay true to your instincts and your truth. lean on those closest when you feel you can’t go on. have faith that everything will work out—perhaps not as you planned, but always always as they should be.
every line, every brushstroke, every blemish or mistake, acknowledged then let go of – all contribute to the masterpiece that is your life. it’s not just a passive exercise of watching things unfold. it’s acting, in little and big ways, with intention.
the act of creation—be it a tiny project or grand plan, a work of art or simply a day lived without regret—may be touched, ever so briefly, by glimpses of grace. but in the end, if it’s meant to be, it’s up to you.