Most of our to-do lists consist of pretty innocuous things like “go to the grocery store” and “do the laundry” – but what would be written on the to-do list of a genius? A genius like, say, Leonardo da Vinci?
According to historian and author Toby Lester, da Vinci did keep a to-do list, and it gives us an astonishing insight into the insatiable curiosity of history’s greatest artist.
In Lester’s book, “Da Vinci’s Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image”, the historian describes how da Vinci would carry a notebook with him wherever he went. Whenever he got an idea or inspiration from his surroundings, he would open up the little book to sketch and scribble down his thoughts.
One of the pages of his notebook contains a sort of to-do list that he maintained in 1490. Thanks to translations and notations from Lester and NPR’s Robert Krulwich, we can read da Vinci’s to-do list and marvel at his incredible motivation to learn and create.
Here are a few of the chores on da Vinci’s list:
-[Calculate] the measurement of Milan and Suburbs
-[Discover] the measurement of the castello (the duke’s palace itself)
-Get the master of arithmetic to show you how to square a triangle.
-Get Messer Fazio (a professor of medicine and law in Pavia) to show you about proportion.
-Get the Brera Friar (at the Benedictine Monastery to Milan) to show you De Ponderibus (a medieval text on mechanics)
-Ask Maestro Antonio how mortars are positioned on bastions by day or night.
-[Examine] the Crossbow of Mastro Giannetto
-Find a master of hydraulics and get him to tell you how to repair a lock, canal and mill in the Lombard manner
-[Ask about] the measurement of the sun promised me by Maestro Giovanni Francese
There are several other items on the list that Lester translated for NPR, but the gist of the list is enough to motivate even the laziest learner.
Because maybe if we were even a fraction as fascinated by the world as da Vinci, we could all be a few steps closer to our own form of greatness.
So what are you waiting for? Take some tips from history’s hungriest genius and start exploring whatever makes you tick.
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