Monday, June 20, 2011

Mercury Attaching his Wings

Winston Churchill once said,"When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened."

It's not uncommon for most individuals to experience a high amount of stress and concern about their lives.  Whether it's about a relationship or a job, most humans wind themselves up with worry based upon their very nature to be defensive and protective.  I picture the mental conflict as a contrast of visions.  One vision is of a cat being held upside down a few feet off the ground.  If the cat is let go, it will right itself almost immediately gently landing on its paws without injury.  But, in an opposing vision, if that same cat was dropped into water, it would panic and struggle.

But is that cat not already wet?  Much the same, how much of the worry many of us experience is fruitful, yielding any kind of positive result?  For me, over the years my worries have pretty much led to nothing more than a loss in sleep, higher blood pressure, and very blunted reminders I need to chill out.  More often than naught, however, such moments of overwhelming worry can lead to positive change and action.  Moments where once reality sets in and it is discovered worrying hasn't changed a thing, optimism can step in and a plan of approach can be formed.


Mercury Attaching his Wings by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714-1785) is the sculpture of the Roman god preparing to take flight.  With a gentle gaze upwards and a slight smirk on his face from under his winged hat, Mercury begins to fasten his winged sandals to his feet.  There seems to be optimism in his eyes despite the implied impatience with his body and I find myself asking why?  Why did Mercury feel the need to prepare for a hurried flight?  What did he experience just moments before and how did he get to this point?

Pigalle's attention to detail is remarkable and something he became known for.  With this piece, the Romanticism influence is fairly obvious yet, again, I can't help feeling there was a deeper meaning for portraying this mythical being in such fashion.  This was Pigalle's official submission to Académie Royale in Paris and obviously, to make it into the prestigious organization, he would need to set himself apart from the many others attempting to enter.  There is grace in the flow of Mercury's body as he twists to put on his talaria without looking, and the bends of his legs and at that angle seem to suggest he's ready to lift off from that position.  However, with each sculpture like this one, there is a story that leads up to this point, and one that completes it.  I think Pigalle had quite a story leading up to this point.

Mercury was known for being a messenger as well as an entity who was erratic and unstable.  Seeing beyond just the pleasant sculpture of a handsome, Roman god, I see an individual who is captured in a moment just after something important, something alarming, perhaps.  As an example to what Churchill stated, here is someone frozen in time who would not allow worry to dominate his emotions or actions.  Clearly, something had inspired Mercury that he needed to get moving and almost certainly, this "something" could have easily led to stress and frustration.  But he was a man of action and thus, Pigalle has created a statue of a god about to do what he was best known for.

Winston Churchill also once said, "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."  And that's what it comes down to.  If one's attitude is to find the negativity in all things, then one will find himself embroiled in frustration and worry.  But if one is capable to seeing something challenging as an opportunity to take action and make a difference, then one is sure to enjoy that same gentle gaze and subtle smile no matter the circumstances.  All one has to do is don the right attire and maintain focus on what is most important.

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