"Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” Albert Einstein
Long time collaborator Mavis Penney and I have, from time to time, read the same books together for both pleasure and elucidation, sharing points we've been challenged by or disagreed with. It's been great for me to use brain cells that might not be used otherwise. Recently we agreed to read Michael Gelb's book, "How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci". For fun we're inviting you to join us in this conversation.
This is not a Cliff's Notes version of Gelb's book. My intention is not to critique Gelb's research or writing style. The purpose of this study is to examine what one author has determined to be a system to which one might subscribe, the goal of which is to improve one's investment in their world. And that's a really convoluted way of saying that we're taking a look at Gelb's recipe for getting more out of each day, and for going to bed with a bit more satisfaction than we had yesterday.
My first thought at Mavis' suggestion for reading this book was, "Sure!" After all, who wouldn't like to think like the greatest thinker of all time? I'm in!" Creator of the first flying machine, sculptor, painter, scientist, architect and all around ponderer of just about everything, Leonardo is considered one of the greatest minds since, well, ever. Leonardo da Vinci is the primary example of human potential in the realm of discovery and renaissance thinking. For the next 7 weeks, this blog will focus on each of Gelb's "steps" for enhancing our inner Leonardo. Will I march into March able to understand algebra, or the theory behind atomic energy? Probably not. But I - and you if you choose to come along - will hopefully use these exercises to expand our horizons just a bit to include a new sense of wonder and appreciation for the world in which we live.
How does one achieve the kind of status given to Leonardo Da Vinci? You're thinking "Sure, get someone to pay me to do nothing but think all day and I could come up with some pretty cool stuff, too." Let's just get this on the table right off the bat, shall we? Let's agree that Leonardo lived in a special time. It was safe to think outside the box and test new theories after centuries of heavy handed control condemning anything approaching enlightenment. Da Vinci also had benefactors, which allowed him the time and resources to ponder deeply anything that caught his attention.
Even at that, he was different than the average 15th Century guy. Why?
Gelb says the first step to thinking like Leonardo is to be curious. About everything.
Are you? And why not?
Today we are repeatedly clobbered with alarms, bells, whistles, and warnings to slow down, hurry up and move over. Elevators have music to chase away the intense boredom that sweeps over us during the several seconds - seconds - that we wait to arrive at the next floor. Children, youth and adults focus on tiny little electronic hand-held games and gadgets to fill the spaces between jobs, games, dance lessons and real conversations. From the time they can stand upright and alone, children are whisked off to lessons, games and pageants for "learning experiences". Which leads me to education, which is not learning at all, but "outcomes". Who would Leonardo Da Vinci have been had he been born in the last 60 years? That's something to think about.
We don't have time to be curious. More honestly, we don't take time. (Using Google to flit around from link to link chasing information doesn't count as curiosity.)
Gelb invites us, in a series of exercises and assignments, to take that time. To pay attention. To pause and ask: how? Why? What color? How did it get that way? And when?
Curiosita. Take time, unplug and s l o w d o w n. Wonder about something, anything. A shadow. A texture. A rule. A religion. Allow that question to form. You don't even have to dash out and find the answer, at least not yet. For now allow wonder and interest to develop and grow.