“Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no
appreciable idea of what man is capable of achieving.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I have yet to see the Sistine Chapel: visiting Italy remains one of my fondest desires. So for now, I’ll have to take Goethe’s word on this one, but that isn’t too difficult. According to The Michelangelo Method, a truly inspiring book by Kenneth Schuman and Ronald Paxton, the great painter stands virtually alone as an artist who excelled in more than two fields. He was a master painter, sculptor, and architect — and widely revered in his time for his creativity and skill.
And yet, though he was hailed as a hero by those around him, his life was anything but easy. In fact, according to Ken and Ron, he was often in crisis. The popes he labored for were extremely demanding — and penny pinchers. As a result, Michelangelo was often in financial trouble. Wars threatened to derail his projects. He also had major health issues. How did he handle the difficulties he faced?
Michelangelo’s response was pure and simple: he turned to his strengths. He drew upon his faith, prayed for divine guidance, then threw himself passionately into the work at hand. As Ron and Ken describe the result: “When Michelangelo was at work, his juices flowed. He found his work healing,”
Just yesterday, a friend of mine and I were talking about the financial challenges so many of us are facing. When she feels anxious about staying afloat, my friend said that she reminds herself how lucky she is. Instead of saying, “’I have to” work, she tells herself “I get to” do work that I love.” Just substituting “get to” for “have to” makes all the difference in her attitude, she told me.
So when we face big problems that threaten our resolve to write, instead of letting them deflect us from our goal, let’s take Michelangelo’s approach and plunge ever-more passionately into our work. Let’s see it as a joy, a refuge, and a path into our own inner strength — as well as a path out of our difficulties. Write on!