When Mark and I traveled to Italy in the summer of 2012 at the end of his sabbatical, we were only in Florence for one evening. By that time, we were kind of “citied-out,” having lived in Grenoble for several months. We were enjoying spending time in the countryside of Tuscany and didn’t feel the need to do everything. This is the main reason we only spent one evening in Florence. Because of that, we didn’t arrange ahead of time to see the “real” statue of David by Michelangelo in the Accademia Gallery, but outside of the Palazzo Vecchio, or Florence’s town hall, was this replica statue of David. We were there at a time of day when the shadow was just right, and I was happy to be able to capture the shadow as part of this shot.
At the first immersion at Kripalu for the Certificate in Positive Psychology in May of 2013, my teacher, Tal Ben-Shahar told the story of when Michelangelo was asked how he carved such a beautiful statue, such a masterpiece. Michelangelo replied, “In this marble I saw David. All I needed to do was take that piece of marble and chip away the excess stone so he could be revealed.” Tal says that we are the same way. We each have a masterpiece inside of us, a David within us, and all we need to do is chip away at the stone to let it be revealed. Sometimes it’s deeply hidden and must be chipped away at for quite a while; other times, it’s very near the surface. It’s different for each one of us. I love this metaphor; that we are all already enough. If we want to make changes we don’t have to add anything to us; we just need to chip away to get at our inner beauty, at our true self. As Tal says, “Just imagine as you’re walking around that every person you see has a metaphorical David within them: a beautiful, powerful, loving, joyful self.”
I love the combination of the chipping away story that Tal shared with us as well as the shadow that shows up in this photo, too. While we all have greatness within us, we also all have a shadow side, and I think this image captures both.