Sometimes I feel as though I like too many things. I want to play cello in a little alternative band. I'd like to take up watercolor, do more print making, create more ceramic pieces and become a better graphic designer. My archery skills are not yet where they should be, and I would really like to write more. Then there are the languages that I started and never finished: a bit of French, some more Russian, and 3 months of pretty solidly speaking Spanish.
In an ideal world I would like to pick up all of these skills and hone them to my satisfaction, yet when I get home from work I feel as though I barely have enough time to do my laundry and tidy up my room! Weekends are for events and family and church and whatever else comes up, not to mention catching up on sleep.
It makes me wonder what I should actually be spending my time on. Is it too grandiose of a goal to be accomplished in a handful of things, or is it better to put your efforts into one?
Leonardo da Vinci is often referred to as the renaissance man. Painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer. The fact that he's accomplished in all of these fields is intimidating! I usually think of him in the way that he is portrayed in Ever After: dreamy and scatterbrained, with little boats strapped to his feet.
Something that I learned about da Vinci in an art history class is that he was always experimenting, and often didn't finish things. Yes, he's an accomplished painter, but there are hardly more than two dozen finished paintings that historians agree are his. One of his experiments is one of his most famous paintings of them all (No, not Mona Lisa).
Da Vinci was experimenting with mediums when he completed this painting, and very little of the original remains as a result. In fact, it was already flaking and deteriorating drastically by the mid 1500s. It has even been glued back together after a botched attempt at removing the painting from the wall.
Now, Leonardo da Vinci probably wasn't thinking about his painting surviving for 500+ years, but it makes me wonder: if he had put all his time and efforts into only one thing, would we be so desperate to keep this experiment restored? Would we still be studying his sketches and unfinished works if we had a larger oeuvre to admire? I'm really not sure.
I'm not a renaissance woman. Sometimes I hardly feel like I could ever be accomplished in anything, and I wonder if it is possible to spread one's time and efforts too thin. After all, it's not just about being an artist or musician or writer! We have to be siblings, daughters, sons, grandchildren, mothers, fathers, friends, students, teachers, employees, leaders, helpers, spouses, as well as work on our own collection of flaws. It's those skills that don't show at a museum or a concert hall, but are apparent in our every day interactions with others.
Which are more valuable, and to who?