Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Project Michelangelo

The following story is true. Sort of.

Once upon a time on a warm and dusty summer day in Tuscany, a very tired merchant was having a glass of wine at the local tavern. It had been a long day. The door to the place was a holy worn piece of green canvas that was failing in its job and letting in one too many friendly flies. 1000s of people had been swarming the city since Michelangelo had become the popular rogue among the crows and cuckolds at the Vatican (maytheirholynamesbeblessed) so it had been a loud, crowded, and tiring day. It was Michelangelo's fault but no one faulted him.

Everyone knew he was there against his will, only the threat of never having another paycheck and eternal damnation kept him there taking Pope's Julius II's likeness and slaving over the army of statues he wanted for his tomb.

The city was positively ripe with people and it wasn't fun. Market days lasted every daylight hour but most people were rich with vision, not coin. More work and the same money didn't translate too well with everyone that lay slumped over their cups underneath the weight of the day. A number of big names had come in and through the city but one endured, Michelangelo.

Everyone that saw his work cried. He was that good and it was that beautiful. It was a bit of a conundrum because anyone that had ever met the man said he was a coarse, moody, and all together unpleasant fellow. He spent most of his time alone brooding over his work and growling at anyone who dared to interrupt him.

So imagine the inner groan our merchant had when none but two tables down he saw the paint sodden grumbly man himself. It wasn't yet dusk but there were one and a half empty wine bottles at his side and a good amount of charcoal shavings. He thought if there ever was a time to have his own Michelangelo story it would be right now and he'd love to be able to contradict all the unfriendly rumors. He had no idea what he'd say. Women were out. He didn't know a thing about painting. All he really knew of the guy was the huge statue of Moses that was displayed in front of Vatican City gates.

So emboldened by his wine and the fatigue of the day he got up and approached the pile of morose genius, loudly flopped himself down, and asked

"So how do you do it? How do you decided what to sculpt? I've seen that there Moses and he's pretty real. Ready to yell at me he is. Ready to yell just like the lot of the rest of the velvet vultures -maytheirholynamesbeblessed" and punctuated his irreverence with a long swig.

Michelangelo didn't move his head, just his eyes and registered the man. It was a question he got a lot and he always gave the same answer:

"I don't see a piece of marble and decide what to sculpt. All I do is simply reveal the form trapped inside."

The answer would have stumped the man cold sober. He didn't respond. He just got up with a bow and left the man to his work, stumbled out the holy piece of green canvas towards the Holy Gates to go get a second look.

That conversation did take place with Michelangelo, though I can't remember how I heard about it and under what circumstances it took place but that quote is true and had reverbed through centuries. It registered in my very young brain and hasn't left.

So naturally when I started looking at health and fitness goals this was one of the first things that came to mind "I'm just revealing the form inside" and I have unofficially called my health plans "ProMi" or Project Michelangelo for years.

Health and fitness is not something that comes naturally to my family. There are a lot of things that do, but this is one thing we have to work at. We all have layers of genetic, emotional and social conditioned angst that complicates things. I've always anticipated my road to fitness to be laced with a lot of emotional upheavals (because well - I'll get to that) so its not just fat percentage points I'm dealing with, its becoming a more complete and healed person.

What's funny is that most of the kids in my family are pretty active and athletic. I played water polo and tennis for years for my college. My brother was super-mr-baseball man, they all played soccer and on and on blah so it not an activity issue. It's a lot more.

I started swimming because I hated running. I found it a traumatizing and horribly boring activity. As I grew older I realized that it was the one thing that I needed to do because it was the thing that I hated so much. Its the athletic equivalent of praying for my enemies. So in the spirit of my New Years resolutions and being inspired by a few of my friends who have already done it, I downloaded and am doing the "Couch to 5K" running program.

*screaming applause and accolades from the crowd*

Its this super spiffy podcast that takes you through 9 weeks of going from absolute sedation to being able to swing a 5K. So, considering it's one of my lifetime goals to be able to run a mile nonstop, which I've never been able to do, this is ambitious. I can tread water with weights for 2 hours straight but run a mile? Fuggeda bout it.

I have a lot of work to do before I complete a marathon which is another goal....

I was just short of amazed when I got through the first work out with out dying. Its a 3x a week run that ratchets you up and after these first few days I think I might actually be successful.

So yay me in week 1. I'll keep you posted

1 comment:

Nicole said...

You can do it! I've been thinking about the Couch to 5k program too. My body is haggard and tired and needs the inner Michaelangelo to be let free. Call on me for support, just as I have called on you.