THE HOLE IN THE MARBLE
By: Lauren Anderson
Last summer one of my very dear friends Heather went to Florence. On her epic adventure she got to see one of the most famous pieces of art in the history of our world. The statue of David, by Michelangelo.
The statue is renowned for being this symbol of strength, defiance, and pride. His body is beautiful. His face, divine. Over time, this statue came to represent everything Florence wanted to say about itself. Complete with face turned towards Rome in an ominous stare.
When Heather got back, she showed me pictures on her phone, and two things stuck out. One, I had no idea David was over 17 feet tall. All these years only seeing postcards and magnets and tote bags of the statue, I was under the impression that he was human-size. He is not. He is the size of a mastodon. The size of a god.
The other thing I learned was that when you go visit the statue, he’s like the only statue in the room. You walk into this domed area, and there he is, towering over you in all his naked glory. The only thing in the room to look at. He’s not behind ropes or glass. I can’t imagine the magnitude of seeing that in person. Because even just viewing it on her iPhone, I was awestruck.
Almost the opposite experience of what I imagine seeing the Mona Lisa is like. The Mona Lisa, so small, under a thick square of bullet proof plastic, roped off, with a crowd of tourists perpetually around her. Her very existence, a mystery. But my friend could walk right up to David, and be almost alone with the specter.
So the other day, I’m hanging out with Heather, and we get on the subject of David again. She tells me that David was made out of a discarded piece of marble that no one wanted to work with. What? I’m intrigued. I beg her to tell me more…
Apparently, in the early 1500’s, lots of cities were commissioning works of art to decorate their streets, and celebrate their glory. But if you’ve ever re-modeled a kitchen, you know marble is hella expensive and very rare. That same was true even back then.
Florence, a newish city, eager to set themselves apart from Rome, spent all their money on a slab of mediocre marble. It was not an ideal slab in any way. Too skinny and tall, and the lines were ‘weird’. But it was all they could afford. Originally, it was to be used to make 12 Old Testament sculptures for a cathedral, but that didn’t really work out.
Then some other guy tried to make a sculpture of Hercules or something, but he never finished. In fact, before he mysteriously stopped working on it, all he managed to do was ruin the slab of stone with a large hole.
So now Florence had sunk all their money into a piece of marble with a huge weird hole in it, and it was deemed unusable. And it sat like that for over 25 years. No artist wanted to work with it.
Time and weather ravaged the stone. Wearing it down, and changing the surface. All was lost. Until a 26-year-old inexperienced Michelangelo eager to make his mark, convinced the city otherwise.
What other artist’s saw as ruined stone, Michelangelo used as innovation. He turned the hole in the marble into inspiration, and that became the space in David’s legs. Which was a wild notion in marble work back then. When most statues were depicted as laying down or supine.
And 4 years later David was born.
Cool story right? I had no idea! Because David is so renowned as this special and perfect thing, I guess I always imagined that’s how he started out too. With grand plans, from the finest materials, in the best circumstance, with the most experienced artist at the ready.
Turns out, David was none of that. And now suddenly in my mind, he has become even more special. Even more beautiful.
Because we know that the best stories are underdog stories. And often the most glorious things come out of great hardship. And it got me thinking about setbacks. It got me thinking about innovation. And it got me thinking about tenacity.
So cut to the gym last Tuesday.
I’m working hard with Coach Morgen after a holiday week (or two) away, and this class is kicking my butt. It feels good to get back at it, but a few times during the workout, I felt a lot like that unwanted and unruly slab of marble.
Because of my back injury, I’ve been doing other programming for over a month now, and this was my first official class back. My heart and head were fully in the room. But my body? My body was still in the car.
Everything was hard. From the stretching at the top of class, to the light jog around the room. I could feel my body resisting. I haven’t been pushed or jostled like this in a while, and it was a rude awakening. But I did not give up.
I chose to practice my clean and jerk with a super light weight until I figure out where I am fully with my back. I am happy to report that it is healing really well. And I know I’ve said this before, but boy is it taking longer than I thought it would.
We move to back squats. (That’s when you put the bar on your shoulder and squat down, and up again.) I usually love these. I always feel like a beast. When I was consistent, and before my injury, I had real potential to back squat a hefty load. But I lost all that strength. I still enjoyed myself, but at a seriously diminished capacity to what I was doing before.
Shoot. Where did all my strength go?
Towards the end of class, we were told to get mats out, and we were supposed to do as many sit ups as we could in 3 minutes. If you’ve been following along this blog, you know that when I started Solcana, I couldn’t even do one sit up (See week 1 blog post).
Then after months of hard work, determination, and practice, I finally achieved a full sit-up (See week 16 blog post). I was over-the-moon elated.
So when I laid down for the 3 minute challenge, I thought “This is gonna be tough, but I got it.”
I was wrong. I couldn’t do it. I lost my sit up.
This great achievement that I was so proud of, that I bragged to the internet about, (complete with video even!) was in the wind. Like someone carved a hole in the marble of my progress and just walked-the-F-away.
But that 3 minute clock raged on, and so I did crunches until I thought I was gonna die, and before I knew it, we were done. When I got up to put my ab mat away, my face was red and hot. Not just from exercise, but from embarrassment. What was this I was feeling? Was this shame?!
OH NO. Not shame!!!
After months and months of body positivity and pride, I was feeling shame again. And it was a rude awakening. I thought I was over this. I thought I was past this feeling. But I guess I’m not. I just haven’t “failed” this hard in a while.
I was mad at myself for what I lost. For how this might look like to other people. I was mortified that I had let all the people that have been so awesome and supportive down. I was even angrier with myself.
How could you Anderson? Why didn’t you stay on top of that better? You just got that sit up, how could you lose it so fast?
But before I could spiral into a pit of despair, we ended class in a yoga pose, and I started to calm myself. Deep breaths quickly de-escalated my rising shame. I decided to stay after to stretch some more. To breath deeper. And by the end of 5 minutes, I had forgiven myself.
This was new. In the past, I would’ve let that shame ride this train for weeks. But as soon as I acknowledged it, and let it be a for a sec, it decided to leave again. And was replaced by empathy for my body. And forgiveness for the setbacks on my journey. And I vowed to get my sit up back.
Because in any great underdog tale, there are always setbacks right?
And just because something gets lost or destroyed, doesn’t mean it still can’t be something great.
If that marble would’ve been pristine, perfect, the best– every artist in the country would’ve been vying to work with it. And Michelangelo in his inexperience and youth would’ve never stood a chance.
If that other guy hadn’t made a hole in the marble, David would’ve never stood so tall and proud against the Medici family in Rome. There would be no need to innovate. It would just be the same ol same ol sculptures everyone was doing. Not the enduring and captivating art it is today.
I have stumbled into a serious setback, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up for 25 years. I’ll innovate. I’ll start again. I’ll change my plan, and come at it from a new way.
And just like David, what I hope to find on the other side… is something even better.
* * *
Speaking of! I’m doing this during the month of January, to kick start myself back into it after a long holiday, and as a way to start again. This program changed my life, and I want everyone in the whole world to try it. The next round of Essential You starts very soon at Solcana Wellness!
Here’s the details:
Group Nutrition Classes: The Essential You Program
The Essential You Program is a 5 week group nutrition series, with a built-in 3 week dietary challenge. Each week of the program Lucia teaches participants about different foundations of health, such as optimal digestion, how blood sugar regulation works and more! We focus on food and lifestyle choices that are essential to YOU–leaving the extra, stressful stuff behind for a few weeks. If you‘ve been wanting to learn more about nutrition, recognize how foods affect how you feel, get better sleep, lose extra weight, and generally just feel GOOD, this is the program for you!
Classes are limited to 10 participants each. Class fee covers all materials and participants get full and continued access to a private facebook group and individual support from me during the 5 weeks.
NEW CLASSES, ENROLLMENT IS OPEN! SUNDAYS, January 8th – February 5th
There are two class options currently available:
ONLINE: Online class participants must be able to meet during the above Sundays from 1:30 to 3:00 PM CST via Google Hangouts. A steady internet connection and a quiet, peaceful environment are encouraged.
IN PERSON: In person class participants must be able to meet at Solcana Wellness (2200 Minnehaha Ave in Minneapolis) during the above Sundays from 4 to 5:30 PM.
Essential You Group Nutrition Pricing:
Clients (online or in-person): $189
Solcana Member Discount (online or in-person): $179
e-mail [email protected] or fill out the form below to reserve your spot in the Essential You!