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Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

So said Michelangelo, sixteenth-century Florentine artist and poet, of the method in which he worked: his sinewy hands surrendered to the fire of his imagination directing his hammers, chisels, and polishers. Unlike his peers who fashioned clay models to work from, Michelangelo sketched his, then inked significant marks upon marble blocks, cut from the quarry near Carrara. What emerged were works in progress, at times, with unintended forms, some left unfinished.

What was significant was their strange beauty.

In my perception, a parallel exists between this anecdote and growing old. Often, the expression, growing old, is voiced in pejorative tones and says much about the one expressing it.

But growing into old age is a critical process filled with discoveries of who we really are and are becoming. Acceptance of new limits, experienced like the Sculptor’s hammering, unsettle the familiar, reveal comic aspects of former behaviors, and shake free the shrouds of relationships. Such acceptance also floods the present with fresh grace to continue exploring unscaled vistas of imagination. Here, the Polisher takes over.

Fine-mesh pads evoke startling dreams from the psyche, smooth over owned mistakes of whatever magnitude, and release colors into what were drab scenarios of experience. The challenge is to remain beneath the Polisher’s tool until the sheen of being catches fire in the light.

Within this light, we see anew and clap hands as we wait for the strange beauty to emerge.  It will come…

 

 

Grace is like ebony wetness seeping into the chinks of my terminal illness: This, too, must be transformed—and so it is, instant by instant.

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