Toward the end of his life, Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the greatest minds of all time, began to pen down observations he made over the course of his life. In one of his many notebooks, he wrote a portion titled “Philosophical Maxims. Morals. Polemics and Speculations.” in which he had composed a brief section, titled “Rules of Life.”
All artwork aside, the notebooks and writing of Da Vinci stand alone as their own unique masterpieces; composed with beautiful writing, diagrams, and theory. It’s a wonder he wasn’t burnt at the stake for the way he thought…
In the Rules of Life, short revelations were penned, of which I’ve included a few personal favorites:
- Ask counsel of him who rules himself well.
- He who takes the snake by the tail will presently be bitten by it.
- Patience serves us against insults precisely as clothes do against the cold. For if you multiply your garments as the cold increases, that cold cannot hurt you; in the same way increase your patience under great offenses, and they cannot hurt your feelings.
- He who wishes to be rich in a day will be hanged in a year.
- Savage he is who saves himself.
An obscure note within the writing is something he intentionally wrote in the smallest of handwriting; as if he were embarrassed to pen the words, which required a mirror to be read, as written backwards to avoid smearing ink with his left hand as he wrote.
“We ought not to desire the impossible.”
For a man who spent his life dreaming of visions that had yet to enter reality; including helicopters, flying machines, and tanks, Da Vinci seemed to have reached a point of acceptance in his life when he wrote these words.
In my own life, I’ve spent many moons chasing dreams, determined to break the impossible and command it. Often, I’d fall short and realize some things simply weren’t meant to be broken, understood, or altered.
Love, for example, is its fullest self when it is offered freely and given without expectation of reciprocation.
Ego, too, has its purpose. A small amount of nutmeg can add flavor to a pastry, or latte. However, a few ingested teaspoons can be fatal.
Recently, I’ve been been in the front-row seat as I watch my own life take on new challenges, while overcoming things I used to imagine were impossible. Running, for example, used to be an impossible task for me; self-proclaiming “I can’t run a mile” and living those words for years.
Self-defeating beliefs require a change in order to find victory. In my life, it took quitting cigarettes (16 days and counting…) and shedding over 30lb. of muscle, from days I was determined to be as much of a monster as possible – on the outside.
Perhaps what Da Vinci should have known (and he probably did) is that one thing separated him from his dreams: time.
He wasn’t born in the right century for dreaming of helicopters. Yet, I’d imagine that some part of him secretly fought with himself, drowning in his own self-induced pits of shame for dreaming of things that nobody else saw possible.
He was a man who saw color in a black-and-white world. Was he crazy, or more sane than others? Who is to say, which is which?
In a few short days, I’ll return to California. It’s a place I walked away from to spend time alone, asking the tough questions from the universe and allowing time, space, and distance to provide me with their answers.
Time in Bali, moments spent in Ohio with my family, and time spent in the depths of my own soul – or basement – as I purged years of shame, embarrassment, and disappointment for feeling I’d somehow dropped the ball in my life; wasting opportunities, being callous with others hearts, and shortchanging those I love most from time and love that was spent under the influence of substances, pride, and ego.
These past few months have been a thing of beauty; feeling as if I’ve woken from a long-lost dream that once called me by name and nurtured me with unconditional love. I hear its voice again, once more.
Life doesn’t have one formula, or recipe for success. Rather, it has one foundational ingredient on which all other good things are built:
I’ve learned one thing; you’re never going to feel ready. Never ready to take the first step, fall in love, start a business, begin a diet, start a family, or move between states.
If you respond to this feeling of not being ready with fear, then you’ll shrink back – and your dreams will die.
If you respond with faith (Full Assurance In The Heart) and peel back layers of fear to find the true north of unconditional love, and unlimited possibility, you will watch your dreams unfold before your eyes.
I’m reminded a bit of Hank Moody in Californication, as he wrestled with himself to ‘feel ready’ to answer the call/love of his life. His answer wasn’t in landing another book deal, owning lots of properties, or even in ‘growing up’ – rather, he recognized that life happens in moments, and if you don’t stop to be in them, your life can change in the link of an eye. From his first letter to Karen (link):
“It’s a big bad world full of twist and turns, and people have a way of blinking and missing the moment; the moment that could have changed everything. I don’t know what’s going on with us, and I can’t tell why you should waste a leap of faith on the likes of me.
But, damn you smell good, like home. And you make excellent coffee. That’s gotta count for something, right? Call me.”
To California, my love.