Saturday, December 17, 2011

An Ode to Leonardo Da Vinci

I read my fair share of books, and one genre I have particular affection is the biography, or, more specifically, the biographies of great men.  I have always tried to surround myself with high-caliber and highly-motivated individuals.  I feed off their energy, picking their brains for advice and tips to get me rolling and improving as an individual.  But while I have had the fortune of knowing very capable people, sometimes the only way to know about truly great individuals is by reading about them.

Since I was in junior high, I have been enamored with the Renaissance Men of the past, figures including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton and Michelangelo. The whole idea of a Renaissance Man, with his ocean deep curiosity and galaxy width interests, intrigued me. 

But the Renaissance Man who had the most influence on me was Leonardo Da Vinci.  He set out with his insatiable curiosity to almost every conceivable task.  He balanced and intertwined the intellectual with the physical, art with science, engineering and anatomy, writing and drawing.  And to complement his voracious curiosity, his powers of observation were unmatched.  Over his lifetime he wrote over seven thousand pages in his journal articulating his thoughts, observations, drawings, and experimentations, among other things.  He also wrote down and defined some 9000 words. The Biographer Anonimo Gaddiano wrote, c. 1540: "His genius was so rare and universal that it can be said that nature worked a miracle on his behalf ..."

Reading about his behaviors has inspired me to do something similar.   I write in a journal as well as an internet blog about almost everything that comes to mind.  I constantly find new words to learn and then write them down – I have already jotted down over 2000 words.  I have tried to balance the various intelligences to create a more efficient mind. 

Da Vinci undoubtedly possessed an innate genius, but what separated him from rest of the gifted class was his power of action and active thinking.  He didn’t blindly and unknowingly subscribe to the intellectual fashions of his time.  Instead, he engaged his mind to question the current scientific dogma of the age.  He was willing to get his hands in the mud by testing theories via experimentation. 

Leonardo Da Vinci has inspired me to cultivate my energies toward all intellectual and physical endeavors.  He has motivated me to learn as much as I can, to the challenge conventional wisdom, to appreciate all aspects of intellectual and physical achievement, and to use that knowledge to attain the optimal mental and physical condition of the human body.      

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