According to Wikipedia, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian polymath – meaning he had wide-ranging knowledge. I, on the other hand, am a poly-why-can’t-I-even-retain-a-ten-digit-phone-number. A man of the Renaissance, da Vinci’s areas of interest included — prepare yourself — invention, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, paleontology and cartography. He diligently documented his experiments and learning in thousands of manuscript pages. Da Vinci is also widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time (despite perhaps only 15 of  his paintings  having survived).

During today’s very strange time of corona-when-is-this-going-to-be-over, I have tried to keep myself entertained by engaging in all my hobbies while consuming foreign cable detective and spy series with my wife, Most Beautiful One. I bet da Vinci would never have accomplished what he did if there had been Netflix in the 1500s!

Da Vinci’s most recognized and enigmatic painting is probably the “Mona Lisa” which resides in the Louvre in Paris. We took our daughters there when they were young. We also saw “Cats” being performed in French. The musical made much more sense to us than the painting — a clear indication that we’re not related to da Vinci. On the other hand, he was quoted as saying, “Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are most active.” So, maybe I am really smart after all?

Da Vinci also wrote, “ Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” I think he would approve of the millions of voices yet again being raised in support of racial equality. Hopefully, while long overdue, its time has finally come.
I like da Vinci’s painting “Portrait of a Musician” because it reminds me of when I was younger and had curly hair. His religious painting “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million in 2017 — the highest price ever paid for a piece of art. Several of my manipulated nature photos sold back East for $350 — the highest price ever paid for a work of mine. “The Last Supper,” which resides in Milan, is one of the most recognizable paintings in the world. How remarkable that da Vinci unwittingly illustrated the last known pre-COVID-19 dinner party.

Da Vinci’s conceptual inventions included flying machines and solar collectors as well as armored fighting vehicles and machine guns for which I am reluctant to praise him. When I was 10 years old, I constructed a conveyer belt using an erector set, a motor and Tinker Toys (look it up) that carried the dinner dishes across our kitchen counter into the sink. Admittedly, I had to use my allowance money to replace some dishes. I called that idea “broken dreams.”

Speaking of dreams, the book “ Choose Hope ,” a discussion between David Krieger and Daisaku Ikeda, describes four powers -- hope, imagination, connection and dialogue -- necessary for each of us to actualize in order to eliminate violence. To quote the book, regarding hope, “War and conflict starts in the human heart. But, so does hope and peace." Imagination “is the wellspring from which hope and compassion flows.” Connection is the “limitless power of the individual especially when we work together.” And, real dialogue is what happens when “we see each meeting with another as a rare and remarkable encounter with the most precious treasure of the cosmos.”

Da Vinci had an incredible ability to imagine a better future through harnessing science and technology. In addition, he attempted to capture the inner human condition through art. Being born ‘illegitimate’ and poor in a highly stratified society made his quests even more difficult. Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from him is, regardless of our circumstances, never give up.

Accordingly, I choose to have hope and am committed to applying my imagination to facilitate connection and honest dialogue through writing and music. How will you manifest your powers?

Thanks for reading, and let’s stay safe out there.

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