I explored the Da Vinci exhibit at the museum in Denver and remembered why he is the ultimate Renaissance man. He was an inventor, scientist, artist, and philosopher. He led the way into new ways of thinking and seeing. And yet at the end of his life he felt like a failure. He wrote: I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.
I was beyond stunned, actually cognitively immobilized. I stared at those words and let them echo in my mind as I wandered through an exhibit full of inventions and art and science. He saw his work as less than perfect and himself as a unworthy of praise. How am I supposed to embrace and value my life when this genius thought himself a failure and a fraud?
Perhaps I can start by challenging the archaic belief that we can be and do everything. That the goal is perfection in all things, and that we will be judged according to our failures, not our efforts. Perhaps the secret is to release our self judgments as well as the voices of others who tried to model and correct and fix and mend our souls. We can choose what to keep and what to transform. Da Vinci’s spirit shone brighter than the social norms of the time, but still her could not find praise or accolades from the world around him. He based his value on the limiting judgment of others.
We will always fall short when we look for our value in the eyes of those around us. Only those who truly love and know us at a soul level can reflect our true value. We however, need to find that truth within ourselves. Reflections are wonderful, but are not a complete picture. Perhaps that is the soul’s purpose, to find our true value, separate from the limitations and diminutions of those around us. Perhaps the meaning of this life journey is only to find the courage to embrace who we truly are.