Over the years, I’ve grown to love Italy. It started when I was 8, and had my first taste of lasagna, and fell in love with it. Such a divine sensation! That gooey, melt-y, cheesy texture combined with a soft, supple pasta and rich, flavorful sauce and the strong taste of cured meats… And then a hint of parmesan, so subtle, so gentle. It was a symphony for my senses.
Okay, so I’m a bit hungry right now, but as a child, I grew to love that taste. As a teen, I began to appreciate the wonderful sensation of music, of lyrical melodies and poetic phrases. I learned about the history of music, and the Italian style of love and passion. As an adult, I experienced my first taste of fine wine, and my eyes were again opened wider to the wonders of Italy.
But even above all of that, the thing that astounds me the most about Italy is its expressiveness of language. La Dolce Vita. I love that phrase. The Soulful Life. The purposeful, meaningful, deep, fulfilling life.
How does one achieve that life?
I believe the first, most necessary step is curiosity. You know how they say, “curiosity killed the cat”? Well that’s a terrible saying, and is exactly what kills our creativity, our ability to experience life to the fullest. Imagine! A generation of children who aren’t curious about anything, who are just content letting things be as they are, not understanding, but not caring. What a terrible world that would be!
The world is like a mansion full of hidden treasures, replete with rich experiences and immersive adventures, and curiosity, or curiosità is the key.
I’ve been reading Michael J. Gelb’s book, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, and in it, he speaks about Leonardo’s curiosità. Leonardo was a man who was curious about everything – he wanted understanding, wanted to understand God, and to reach Him. That curiosity is what drove him to excellence, to think and create, to dream big, and to experience the soulful life.
Leonardo had an incredible thought-life. Because of his curiosity, he thought about everything! He designed a submarine 500 years before the first submarine was ever produced. He designed a working parachute that someone recently tested successfully 300 years before the Wright brothers were alive!
How was this possible?
He was curious. And he wrote all his random thoughts down. His notebook, sold years later to Bill Gates for $30.8 million, contained pages with the Vitruvian man on one side, and a shopping list with some funny quotes he had heard on the other. Leonardo was in the practice of writing down everything he thought about so that he could get back to it later. He understood the power of intuition, and learned how to be more in tune with it and to hear it.
Where do all great ideas come from? In the shower.
Why? Because the shower is the place where we don’t care about being judged, don’t care to fit into some mold. It is the place where we release our minds from the confines and constraints of the world. It is the place where we allow our intuition to speak. And it is in those fractions of times that we are able to hear what it says that our great ideas are born.
Our task, then, must be to be deliberate about having those times. Be deliberate about taking walks in the park, or rides through the mountains – whatever it is that frees your mind. Make time to think without boundaries, and always keep a notebook handy. You never know when you’ll surprise yourself.
Be curious, then, and be open to what that curiosity leads to. Be optimistic, be in awe and in wonder of all that you discover. After all, cynicism is idealism with a broken heart. And no one wants to walk around broken hearted.