By Jorge Manuel Zelaya Fajardo
July 30th, 2019
I would’ve liked to be a sculptor, but I’m not. I would have been fascinated to have the talent for being able to face a rough marble rock and make something precious out of it, however, I don't have that talent. But to be fair, of all the sculptures, there is one in particular that I am deeply in love with: the Pietà (“Mercy” in English) by Michelangelo Buonarroti (born March 6, 1475—died February 18, 1564). I have not yet been able to identify what makes it so special for me: I would not know if it is the divinity (full of youth) of Mary who, in her hands, has her Son, the dead Christ; or if it is because of the unlikely majesty of the chiseled work of Carrara marble. I would not know if it is because of its harmony or because of its absolute focus on detail. However, I’ve come to think that there is an emotional connection that could be the reason for such deep admiration on my behalf: I inherited from my parents a miniature plaster copy of the Pietà when they had the opportunity to see it personally, on the only trip the statue made outside St. Peter's Basilica, when it was transported by boat to the New York World's Fair in 1964 (where today a memorial plaque stands at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park in New York).
However, the main purpose of writing these lines is not precisely about Michelangelo's work itself, but rather what the work could represent for each of us in our lives. And the root of everything is the phrase of Michelangelo that does not stop bouncing in my mind: “All I did was remove the marble from Mary and Jesus. They were already there.”
That thought has challenged me. And my intention in this regard is daring, since I intend to extrapolate to our personal life the three most important elements of the sculpture: marble, chisel and sculptor.
The marble. What if the marble is life itself? The sum of decisions, choices and projects. Our path from birth to death. Our works in personal and professional life.
The chisel. What if the chisel are the tools, skills, abilities, knowledge and competencies we use to make life a valuable project for ourselves and others?
The sculptor. What if the sculptor of our own life is ourselves? Personally, I think this is where the true magic of sculpture called life lies. The young Michelangelo at 24, was the author responsible for the work giving us a lesson that we can all sculpt a masterpiece of life that we have given.
Our birth is the minute zero, when the marble is delivered to us. From our first natural learning, a series of daily experiences begin for us to learn informally and formally, in family and in the classroom, in the good times and the bad times. But the creator of the work is the sculptor. Without a doubt, our life is a sculpture of which we are responsible for sculpting a work of art even with all its own and external limitations; achievements and failures; misadventures and celebrations.
Now, the even more important message of all this lies in something rather simple. If the majestic Pietà of Michelangelo was to be stored in a closed place where no one would benefit from its beauty when enjoying it, the work wouldn’t be SO important and special. The same applies to our life. A sculpted life that does not serve others as inspiration, learning, support, service and pure love… loses its most basic sense of existence. It is a sculpture that nobody enjoys.