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The Other Side of Adversity

If you drove to Siberia (maybe not a good idea to drive!) and interviewed every inhabitant about art, they probably have all heard of the Mona Lisa.   Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is without doubt, the most famous painting in the world. There’s been a movie named Mona Lisa Smile, where Julia Roberts earned 25 million; which reportedly is still the highest salary payment for a female movie actress. Nat King Cole recorded a song by the same name.

It’s the “why she is famous” that  tickles our fancy. It’s not that it’s the most amazing piece of art ever painted; or even the most talented artist to ever paint. In fact, there were artists during his time period like Michelangelo, who were even considered more talented.

Certainly observers have been captivated by her slight smile, or who the artist was using as a model for the painting. It supposedly was Lisa del Giocondo, a member of a wealthy family and husband to a silk merchant. Even that has come under question.  It does make for a great gift if he the merchant commissioned a painting that was a lady for My Lady.

The reality is, that the Mona Lisa is famous because of her adversity. Famous then, for being famous.

Originally it was languishing in obscurity until it was stolen from the Louvre in 1911. Then, the hunt for the payment was a public search that lasted over two years until an Italian maintenance man at the Louvre, Vincenzo Peruggia, was identified as the thief after being caught trying to sell the painting to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. His arrest was covered by the news all across the globe.

History tells us that the painting was moved by Louis XIV to the Palace of Versailles. After the French Revolution, it was moved to the Louvre; but for a brief time, even hung in the bedroom of Napolean. The travels of the Mona Lisa are described well in Wikipedia.

It was hidden during World War II. It has had acid thrown on it in 1956, and even was chipped by a rock near the left elbow, that same year.

The metaphor to this is what I have seen in clients. Many have faced tremendous adversity because of an injury or loss. It’s what I see on the other side that is the constant challenge to me. The report of an accomplishment or even the post of some event on Facebook.

It’s not that they have laughed in the face of adversity; but they have risen above. Leonardo da Vinci said, “I love those who can smile in trouble”. Mary Tyler Moore on adversity, “You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you”.

Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take. Hen He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.


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