We all know who Leonardo Da Vinci is. Born in a gray stone tenant cottage next to a farmhouse two miles up the road from Vinci, Leonardo was lucky that he was born out of wedlock. His father never recognized him as a legitimate son which affected him throughout his lifetime. If he were considered as legitimate, then he would be a notary just like his siblings and ancestors.
Leonardo didn’t have a formal education like the other great people and artists. This was another advantage of being born out of wedlock. He was not sent to Latin schools that taught classics and humanities. His teacher was experience itself. He was mainly self-taught. That leads him to a different way of thinking. Leonardo was a freethinker, and he was willing to challenge the received wisdom. People would often criticize and underestimate Leonardo because of not having a formal education. In one of his notebooks he wrote:
"I am fully aware that my not being a man of letters may cause certain presumptuous people to think that they may with reason blame me, alleging that I am a man without learning. Foolish folk!... They strut about puffed up and pompous, decked out and adorned not with their own labors, but by those of others….. They will say that because I have no book learning I cannot properly express what I desire to describe-but they do not know that my subjects require experience rather than the words of others."
Leonardo learned a lot when his father was able to secure him an apprenticeship from one of his clients, Andrea del Verrocchio, an artist and engineer who ran one of the best workshops in Florence. Leonardo was only 14 years old when he got his mentor. Verrocchio gave the young Leonardo an apprenticeship because of his astonishing talent. This student-master relationship changed Leonardo’s life. He was able to showcase his God-given talent and met the elites during that time.
Leonardo was able to study some of his master’s books which included math, philosophy, anatomy, dissection, music, and science. He learned from Verrocchio the beauty of geometry and how it is connected to our daily lives and nature. This lead to the creation of the famous Vitruvian Man.
People who aren’t familiar with the life of Leonardo think he was all about money, but he isn’t. He was known to share his blessings. He was never motivated by money or material possessions. In his notebook he wrote:
"Men who desire nothing but material riches and are absolutely devoid of the desire for wisdom, which is the sustenance and truly dependable wealth of the mind."
Leonardo Da Vinci is an excellent example of why we should be curious and learn to question everything. He was not only a painter. His curiosity and creativity made him an engineer, courtier, inventor, artist, military strategist, astronomer, anatomist, sculptor, geometer, mathematician, and a philosopher. Leonardo asked a lot of philosophical questions during his lifetime such as “Why is the sky blue?” And he even tried to square the circle. I think he already answered this question by looking at the Vitruvian Man.
Leonardo was seeking knowledge to understand nature itself and how we fit into it. When we look at Leonardo’s paintings such as the Mona Lisa and Last Supper they look like they have expressions. These paintings are timeless and truly remarkable.
Our society would be much different right now if he decided to publish his works and finished some of his projects but what’s done is done.
Our tasks right now are to be like him. We must live a life filled with a sense of curiosity and appreciate the wonders of nature. We must use the technology to our advantage. Leonardo didn't have access to the internet when he was still alive yet he accomplished so many things. Imagine if we did the same thing. Our world will be different. Our world will be better.
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