For some reason, it felt like my heart was doing some sort of rhythmic gymnastics routine in my chest, and my palms felt clammy as I walked up the many marble stairs that would bring me into Michaelangelo’s masterpiece: the Sistine Chapel. I had never thought much about the Sistine Chapel before and I’m not particularly into art history— I realized that I didn’t even know what the Vatican looked like until I nearly ran into its door. So, I really couldn’t discern what I was in for.
I was told to keep my eyes down as I walked through the threshold into the epitome of Michaelangelo’s career and into one of Rome’s most distinguished and prized landmarks, so my anticipation rose quickly. When the adrenaline and the overwhelming recognition of what I was about to do registered, my knees began to quiver. It was like a dam burst in my head and all of these thoughts began storming my brain: In a few seconds I will be looking at the SISTINE CHAPEL with my naked eyes. The amount of secrets this room holds is astronomic. I will be walking on the same floor that so many esteemed, holy and famous people have walked on, and I’m just realizing all of this NOW?! I was shocked with myself! I almost panicked, actually, because I realized that I hadn’t prepared myself for this experience in the slightest. But then I heard it. The “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” of sheer reverence coming from all around me. My eyes were still hooded, so I relied on my other senses; the air cooled and voices became hushed. The atmosphere of the bustling staircase that I had just traveled up completely disappeared. So… I looked up. It took me a moment to register what I was looking at, since I hadn’t taken many opportunities to study the Sistine Chapel prior to entering. But once I began to look around and study the work of art that was just a few dozen feet from my eyeballs, a wave of veneration washed over me. My insignificance as I stood under this massive depiction of man vs. God became shockingly evident. Even in the dimly lit chapel I could still see the brilliance of the colors, shapes and dimensions that covered every inch of that ceiling. Every painted face had a different expression, and I could feel the anguish, jubilation, comfort, love, hatred, humility etc. in every scene that was depicted. They were all beautiful. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of it, but my neck muscles protested, so I had to settle for about 15 minutes of staring wide-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Well, the whole atmosphere made me feel terribly romantic, so the song that I chose to play as my soundtrack as I walked through the Sistine Chapel is “Samson” by Regina Spektor. It’s a song that uses the biblical couple Samson and Delilah to relay a kind of love that is bittersweet, because of the beautiful yet tragic bond that the lovers share. It reminded me of the bond between Adam and Eve. I did my best to burn the images into my brain so that I could simply close my eyes and relive the first moment I looked up over and over again. Alas, my memory does not do it justice. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to go back and experience it all over again.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6EXUQUXtgI - Samson by Regina Spektor