The Thought for the Day – Miles Unger, on Michelangelo

He was the prototype of the temperamental genius, beholden to no one and responsible only to the dictates of his own inspiration. – Miles Unger, Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces

Miles Unger is an American writer, specializing in, among other things, biographies of ancient Italians. This is the only book of his we’ve read so far, and we look forward to our paths crossing again because this book was richly researched, thoughtfully and entertainingly written and like all good biographers Unger made his subject appear to be sitting in the same room with you. Michelangelo (1475-1564), of course, is one of the great artists in human history, one of the few to reach the pinnacle in three different forms of human endeavor: sculpture, painting and architecture.

From the start, Michelangelo knew he was put on this earth to create and that’s what he did. He was born with both the immense talent and Herculean focus required to live down the ages and so he does. Some of us mortals may think the gulf between Michelangelo and ourselves is wide, but really it’s not. The only difference between Michelangelo and us is talent and focus, with Michelangelo had supreme measures of.

We’re all humans, though, and what we do have in common with him is we were all born with a purpose for our lives. As we note here every hour on the hour, it doesn’t really matter what that purpose is, either, all that matters is that we fulfill that purpose, that we spend our time on this planet maximizing the talents we were issued at birth.

responsible only to the dictates of his own inspiration.

All of us were born with our own inspiration for our lives. We may not have been born with prodigious amounts of talent, or maybe we were, but all of us have hearts that are telling us where to go and instincts that are pestering us about how to get there. We can either ignore these dictates or we can accept them. Making that choice is something we all have in common with Michelangelo.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Gaylon began stockpiling quotes in 1988.

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