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The Art of Not Finishing Things

I’m reading the new biography of Leonardo DaVinci by Walter Isaacson. Fascinating! I’m learning about the Renaissance, and Italian politics in the 1400s, and the interesting ways art impacted warfare and power. It was a perfect environment for a man like Leonardo. I’ve discovered that he was driven by curiosity! He wanted to know how things were connected, how they worked. Though he struggled with math, he inherently understood physics, and the patterns he found in a curling seashell, a river eddy and a lock of hair. He filled over 7200 pages of notebooks with his ideas, designs and artwork. Bellisimo!

My big takeaway so far: Leonardo didn’t finish most of his works. He considered the Mona Lisa an unfinished project. He worked on it for 16 years, editing and repainting, until his death. Yet the painting is priceless, arguably one of the world’s greatest artworks. His perhaps most ambitious painting – The Adoration of the Magi – was abandoned. His early drafts show dozens of characters and background elements. One suspects he could never execute what he was seeing in his head, so he just let it go. However, his sketches of this piece showed his expanding understanding of light and perspective, deeply informing his mural of The Last Supper.

So, what if we worried less about getting stuff done? Nothing is ever done. The moment software comes out, there are updates to do. An operating manual will need corrections every week, if not each day. Some detail of the trade show will slip by and the show will go on. What if we lived life as a work in progress? Everything we do impacts the next thing we do, inevitably, and sometimes surprisingly.

That doesn’t mean throwing out the checklists. It just means aiming for progress, and letting go of perfection. That’s my intention for 2018.

What’s yours? Comment below!

Wishing you love, peace, prosperity and freedom in 2018 and beyond!

xo$, Ellen

PS… Here’s the link to a book on Leonardo’s notebooks. They are still mostly intact today!

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2018-01-02T21:04:34+00:00