By Alexander Xie
My best friend has always admired Leonardo and his works. I could never really understand why. For me, he was some oldish guy who painted a very boring and artistically doubtful Mona Lisa thing. My opinion about Mona Lisa hasn’t changed since then – but as for Leonardo, he became someone I feel inspired by. Someone I admire a lot. Someone I believe was so incredibly wise he could have started a new religion. A pure genius! But he did not declare himself a new prophet. Or at least that’s what I think, judging by his own words, paintings, inventions and all the priceless legacy he left behind.
What truly amazes me about Leonardo da Vinci is his unbelievable talent. While I’m not fascinated by his paintings, I cannot deny their merit (Gioconda apart, of course!). But what really takes my breath away are his inventions, his notes on biology and human anatomy, his skills as an engineer and – especially – his ideas about the world and man- ages, ages and ages ahead not only of his time, but probably of our time as well.
I didn’t really understand the scope of his genius until I visited Clos Lucé, the place where Leonardo spent last three years of his life. The manor and the park are filled with models of his inventions. His quotations hang on the walls. You can see his writings and drawings. I suddenly realized why my friend was so fascinated. This man was amazing. It’s incredible he did all this, and much more!
When I visited his kitchen, where his cook was making vegetarian meals for him, it occurred to me – for the first time in my life – that eating animals is really wrong. It was at this very moment I decided to consider being a vegetarian. Six months afterwards, I dropped meat and I’ve been a vegetarian ever since. I can’t thank Leonardo enough for helping me switch to a better and more humane diet.
But apart from all the little models of bridges, flying machines and vehicles that were so fun to play with; and apart from his paintings and sculptures and nature studies; and also apart from his mathematical and scientific skills I got to admire; apart from it all and above all, he was a philosopher, a thinker, a man with deep understanding of life and deep affection for all living things. That’s what inspires me most. That’s why I admire him so, so much.
Here are some of my favorite quotes by Leonardo.…