Could da Vinci have written fiction?

Monday, March 14, 2011 

Over the weekend my husband and I enjoyed going through the da Vinci Exhibit at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines, and I left with  just one question: 

Did the man never sleep?! 

Let’s see—there is the glider, early parachutes, a precursor to today’s helicopter,  military tanks, submarine and automobile concepts, ball bearings and gear systems, to name a few. 

He self studied—and sketched— utilizing geometry, engineering, mathematics, physics and philosophy, from which he created detailed anatomical sketchings of the human body, birds’ wings and flight patterns, innovative designs for buildings, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. 

His contemporaries included people with names like Archimedes and Michelangelo.

At the end of the day I deduced that about the only thing the man didn’t try was writing fiction. But something tells me that if he wanted to, he would have. And good fiction at that.

I learned that while he was working on his famous painting, The Last Supper, on some days he would stand before the work all day long simply staring and studying it; when he picked up his paint brush again, there would be days that he would do nothing but paint, often not stopping to eat or drink.

His quotes and philosophies peppered the exhibit, and I wasn’t about to miss an opportunity to copy some of them down in my notebook . . .

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough. We must do.” 

He makes it sound so simple, doesn’t he? 

Deluding ourselves into thinking we could even come close to this man’s drive or accomplishments is absurd; we aren’t a da Vinci. But I believe it’s perfectly acceptable to let his example encourage us in whatever any of us are chasing after in our own life, be it baking artisan bread, fabric painting, growing things in the dirt, on the page–or even human relationships. If it’s our art, it matters.

Let me share one final da Vinci’ism with you today: 

“Art is never finished—only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

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