Many years before I became a BEATLEMANIAC, I was a dedicated fanatic of Leonardo da Vinci. Paul and the boys struck my fancy when I was 18 – Leonardo must have carved out a section of my brain before I became a teenager.
Leonardo was the quintessential Renaissance man. Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, astronomer, cartographer, botanist, historian and writer. As Wikipedia explains, “He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived in the Western world.”
He relied on sponsorships, but chaffed under them. He left works unfinished. THE LAST SUPPER wasn’t supposed to last forever – it was only a fresco. At one point, he became a chief military engineer. His designs were futuristic and would have critically influenced warfare – had they been built.
His notes and sketches were not combined into any system while he was alive. Those that survived have been gathered together into various parts, some under the title of a “codex.” When Bill Gates bought the Codex Leicester in 1994 for $31 million, I was very jealous. I wanted it for my own enjoyment!
Yesterday, I was ecstatic to learn one of our sons – Sean – learned to love da Vinci at roughly the same age as I did. July 5, 2015, he brought tears to my eyes when he wrote, “Visiting (The Minneapolis Institute of Arts) today on a family outing to view the Codex Leicester, my overarching impression was a very personal connection to the Master on an unbroken string of what I do every day. Observation and experimentation to understand the world around us. I saw one of the Codex when I was around 11, visiting DC on a Boy Choir tour (not sure if it was the same Codex or not). It still effects me the same way in it’s power to motivate me to try harder.”
You have to visit a museum if you want to see any such collection, although you can find bits and pieces scattered about the Internet.
Back in the same year Gates bought the Codex Leicester, I finished writing a huge book titled, DEATH: THEN WHAT? My last chapter was a dream sequence wherein I imagined the perfect new beginning for myself upon my death. The concept was that for the first part of my next life, I would be able to temporarily incorporate my soul into the minds and bodies of my heroes – living or dead. I would not BECOME those people, and they would never know I was present. I would be able to turn myself “off” during more private moments in the life of my hosts. Among those I “visited” this way were Paul McCartney, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. My first embodiment was to be Leonardo da Vinci.
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“Please don’t misunderstand me; I had not turned INTO Leonardo, I was INSIDE him. Unobtrusively and unfelt, I became a part of the greatest mind the earth had ever known! Definitely not reincarnation. Definitely not spiritual possession. While I was able to feel, and taste, and sense absolutely everything he did, I was not him, and he was not me. It was wonderful!
“Leonardo da Vinci! My hero! Oh it was absolutely glorious!
“Don’t ask me the mechanics of how any of this happened – it just did. The chemistry or physics or quantum mechanics or whatever it was that allowed me to share this great man’s life, is something I don’t pretend to understand. All I know is, I was able to experience everything Leonardo experienced. I know in my mind we will all understand the principles of the universe eventually, and we can compare notes. However it happened, I was there, in Florence in 1469, and Leonardo was 17. His adventure, and mine were about to begin!
“I was, ah, he was, apprenticed to Andrea Verrocchio, and it was soon clearly evident who had all the talent! It was wonderful to feel the paintbrush as it moved across the canvas, and to feel the wet clay in his fingers. It seemed so effortless for him to create beauty out of nothing. It flowed from inside him into what ever medium he was working with.
“How glorious to paint the altarpiece for the Palazzo Vecchio at age 26! To paint The Adoration of the Magi at age 29! It was all so magnificent, I reveled in soaking up every minute of his life!
“There were exceptions, however. If there was something absolutely private in his life that I felt ashamed to witness, I could automatically and instantaneously move to the next ‘scene’ in his life. These moves were accomplished simply by thought, and very automatic.
“For the most part, I couldn’t bear to excuse myself from almost every waking moment in this great man’s life. New wonder after new wonder unfolded in front of me, and I could experience his thoughts as they happened. His impatience when supplies were late. His ability to block out trivial things and concentrate on what was at hand. Above all, his insatiable appetite for more: more knowledge, more time, more ability to communicate his tremendous thought processes to those who were obviously not capable of understanding him. As each magnificent project was completed, I expected him to take satisfaction in creating another masterpiece, but no, it was never enough.
“When he started a huge horse statue for Duke Lodovico Sforza in Milan, I thought he would be satisfied. He never finished it. As he planned festivals, painted portraits, and delighted all those fortunate to be near him, I expected some feeling of accomplishment. But no, hardly did he dive into one project than he started two or three more.
“Art wasn’t enough. He swallowed mechanics, engineering, mathematics, biology, physics…. He became almost obsessed with anatomy, daring even to explore cadavers by cutting them apart. All this while creating beautiful murals and paintings.
“And his writings! Has ever man breathed who could create on paper the thoughts and sketches of this man! It was miraculous to feel the quill flow from right to left as his imagination was captured for posterity. Oh, Leonardo wasn’t writing for mankind – he was just insatiably curious; so brilliant, so intelligent. Often, I had to ‘sit back’ in awe of this creative genius.
“As I said before, I spent almost every waking moment with Leonardo; from age 17 until his death 50 years later in France. It was mostly a blissful delight for me. Even when there were troubles, or he was angry, or impatient, I was delighted to be sharing this time with the greatest mind of all time.
“In the quieter moments, when I could reflect on what was happening – while still being intimately involved with Leonardo’s creation – it came to my mind that this was the foundation of godhood. Leonardo was using far more brain power than most humans, and yet, even with all his genius, there were still untapped areas he could have developed. Could have, if given the time. Eternity is nothing but time. Opening the mind to learn all there is about how things work in the universe – and opening the mind to developing every talent available to us – this is godhood.
“I ‘left’ Leonardo with mixed feelings; sorry that chapter had ended, but at the same time shaking with excitement at what lay ahead of me.”