There is a beautiful story told of two brothers Franz and Albrecht Durer. Their parents were very poor and often had to scrimp and save to put meals on the table. Indeed there were days when the family had to go hungry because there was little money to buy basic ingredients.
Now both boys were artistic and were very good at painting and drawing; using chalk and lead shaving they were able to create spectacular portraits of family and friends as well as scenes from the nearby countryside. Nevertheless, in order to enhance their skills they had to go to art college to be trained in the techniques and different styles of the old Masters. College cost money and they had very little, certainly not enough to send one of them to college, never mind two.
The older brother, Franz, had an idea. He knew that Albrecht was more gifted than he was and suggested to his younger brother that he, Franz, would work as a general labourer and make enough money to send Albrecht to college. He knew that Albrecht would study hard and using his natural talent, he would become a great artist and then be in a position to sell his paintings for a lot of money. Once he had sold a few Franz believed that there would then be enough money for him to go to college. The brothers agreed and Albrecht was enrolled into art college that year. He did study and work hard. His teachers recognised his gift and he was soon in a position to sell his first painting. And then a second. Before long his name was being spoken about within the art world. People would approach him to ask him to paint pictures especially for them. Albrecht completed his studies and returned home sharing the good news of his fame with his family.
He sought out his brother and said, ‘Thank you! If it hadn’t been for your love and belief in me I would never had had the opportunity to go to college and sell my paintings. I now have enough money for you to go to college.’
Franz didn’t say much but simply held up his hands for Albrecht to see. His hands were gnarled and bent, twisted and painful. His fingers were swollen and sore because of all the manual labour he had done over the years. He could no longer hold a pencil or a paintbrush. His hands were the hands of a workman, not the hands of an artist.
Albrecht simply replied that he didn’t realise what a sacrifice his brother had made. He then took some paper and pens and started to draw a beautiful portrait of his brother’s hands. When the painting was finished everyone suggested how wonderful the painting was, how full of love and meaning it was.
And it is. Even 400 years after it was drawn it has been seen by millions of people from across the world. It is admired for his accuracy and portrayal of the love two brothers had for one another.
We might never be famous artists, but we all have a gift or talent which can help build up our self-esteem — IF only we can truly believe in ourselves, rather than what people think we should be. We have so much potential — remember life is for living in the light not in someone’s shadow.