What would da Vinci do?
It’s early morning and the sky is lighting up……
I feel sparked by several recent interactions……always my curiosity weaving…..
I went to a craft fair yesterday and there was an artist whose work I thought was really good. In talking she had said she found inspiration in Leonardo da Vinci’s work and then continued to make sure I understood that she was in no way comparing her work to his. I said ‘why not compare and why wouldn’t you and Leonardo both be equally good…yet different?’. (This concept is sometimes confusing for people as we are all wired towards status and prestige….the evaluation and criteria for what makes someone or something of ‘worth’.) I went on to simply say that ‘Yes, I appreciate and honor his work/talent but why would we create a hierarchy that put him so high above? Why would her talents not be viewed as on par with his?” I thanked her for her work and said I appreciate her talent as I would da Vinci….even with their unique differences.
She then told me that this was the nicest thing she had heard all day…..
…….which is cool and all…..but why isn’t this what we are already telling ourselves each day?
I am so curious about these compartments we create and levels…..these systems of status or hierarchy. We implement them in many forms….even in something as simple as cooking a meal or having a conversation and it usually involves some layers of criticism, comparisons and self deprecation.
In the realms of celebrity and prestige (within any craft or field) it is challenging to not keep them separate from us and elevated…..to compare ourselves and yet not feel we can be ‘equal’. (This is not to say we can’t have people we look to for inspiration and for whom we offer our respect for their perceived talents and work)
But why not consider ourselves equal? What harm does this create? What happens if we let go of status while maintaining reverence?
For me this extends into all human interaction……a co-worker, yoga teacher, friend, family member…..how do I appreciate their talents or qualities in things such as cooking, socializing, family, finances, physical appearance etc etc…….and not elevate them (or myself). How do I cultivate a new status quo inside myself that is equality? ….we are different yet equal……
Whether it is an artist that is considered a ‘master’…..a well known writer, teacher or chef……or simply day to day interactions and activities……how are we maintaining this practice of comparison or judgement that the end result is a ‘pecking order’? And why?
Seriously, I am asking you ‘why’? What are the reasons or answers you find?
I am an advocate of celebrating individual talents and efforts….so this is not a bid to make everyone monochromatic.
‘Equal’ is not a lessening….
…….it is the real possibility to embrace what lies underneath all our conditioning.
During the course of the next few days discover situations where perhaps you might not perceive yourself (or someone else) as equal…..even the small, fleeting moments……and allow yourself to invite a sense of equality. Try to let got of any sense of ‘greater than, lesser than’ and just feel a balance of status, value or ‘worth’ between you and this other person. (This might be in a focused field such as artwork or fitness activities…..or it could be general qualities like generosity or kindness.) Just work with your perceptions or visualizations and see what you notice. Try not to force anything or judge what unfolds…..simply witness.
(You could also observe where you see this happening in the media, entertainment or in your own social circles. Again, just notice it and see if you can play with your perceptions and be curious about some of our ‘accepted’ patterns of thought and status.)
You never know what you might discover…….
Thanks so much for reading……..
Thanks for the amazing post. This topic stirs up so much in me because I often feel pretty low in the hierarchy whatever it may be (social, economic, artistic). I feel as though you approach this in a radical way, but it is only radical because we are all lead to believe otherwise. Actually you bring much sanity to this. For me the rationale is that if there is not some structured top down order to everything, then there won’t be standards and we will be left with mediocre mush. But this external imposition feels synthetic and forced. I believe there is a natural, organic order to all things and if we just trust a little more we can bring it into further fruition in our structures. Hierarchy is built on distrust, it seems to me. An example that seems appropriate is a commercial developer looking at a dense forest and distrusting the organic beauty. He would rather flatten the whole thing and put something profitable on there instead. Ego driven paranoia loves man made structure and hierarchy but it’s a cop out, a cover up of the much more divine order in the seeming chaos of complex systems.