Sunday Snippet: Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

We had previously traveled through the Netherlands with artist Vincent van Gogh and through to France with Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Continuing with my journeys through Europe, I now find myself in Italy. Now, I could have selected one of the ancient Roman philosophers for this edition of What’s Up Wednesdays, but I thought someone a little more recent may be appropriate.

The Renaissance was an amazing period in human history, sparking some of the most amazing work that this world has ever seen. And there really is no individual who better epitomized the concept of the Renaissance Man than one Leonardo da Vinci. Here was a man who wasn’t satisfied with being just a painter or just a musician or just a botanist. He also happened to be an architect, a mathematician, an anatomist, a geologist, a writer and an inventor.

He also happened to be a technologist far ahead of his time, dreaming up concepts that would later be interpreted as a helicopter, a tank and a calculator, centuries before any of these were technologically feasible. He even conceptualized the idea of concentrated solar power. To say that da Vinci was a prolific man would be a gross understatement. He was an absolute genius who simply didn’t have the time for inspiration to come find him; he went out and found it. Then, he wrote, drew and painted about it, before inventing an even better way of finding it again.

It was once said that Leonardo da Vinci had a “feverishly inventive imagination” and an “unquenchable curiosity.” It shows. He simply could not sit back and “let things happen” to him; instead, in line with the quote above, he went out and happened to things instead. It is this same sense of scientific inquiry that drove Albert Einstein to discover the theory of relativity. It is this same “unquenchable curiosity” that Neil deGrasse Tyson encourages among the children of the world.

“Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

Never stop exploring. Keep asking questions (even if they only lead to more questions). We are not passive observers of this world; we are its active agents. There is always more to learn and discover.