It is said that Leonardo da Vinci began his day with a list of 100 questions. This theory comes out of the 13,000 pages of manuscript notes he left. Did he know something about questioning? Is there a way to question that we can learn from him? This is what is sitting on the top of my mind as I begin this new year. 2010 – a fresh new morning of time. I look out on the ships sailing just beyond the deck of my boat ( see previous post on life lessons on living on a boat), and I ask: How to enter this new cycle in a way that will fuel my creativity, my hunger to know more about the mystery of the journey.
How to question (question mark) Is there a key to how Leonardo did it, that fueled the curiosity of his great Renaissance mind (question mark) Is there a way I can harness some of his genius if I crack this code (nog a question mark) I try an experiment – in truth, I have been trying this experiment for the past few years: What if I just sit up and grab my notebook beside my bed and write off the top of my head, 10 questions with no concern for answers. See what falls out of my dreamspace. See how it effects my day. See if the answers come rolling out of sky as they are wont to do. See if it helps me become the next of the great Renaissance thinkers of this century ( ha).
I learned something about questions from the Kalahari San Bushmen years ago as I sat on the hot Kalahari sand with them. It is I think, one of the things that drove the missionaries and white authorities mad about these last remaining, small, stone-age remnants of our genetic ancestors. Perhaps they hold a key for our demanding Western way of thinking; our footstamping insistence on answers to questions. The San Bushmen do not answer a question just because it is asked. This took me by great surprise and I thought it quite rude that Dawid got up and walked away from me just after I had asked him if I had a Bushman name. No yes or no, no I’ll think about it, no acknowledgement of my existence. Just a look into the horizon and a lift of his body from the sand, accompanied by a grand walk-off. I remember sitting dumbfounded and nursing a sense of not-being-heard nor seen. Hmmm – today I think I might have spent a bit more time thinking about what it stimulated and why. A familiar pattern probably imprinted in my reptilian brain that most of the time drives me to do what I do, say what I do not mean. (check out more about this on Dr. Clotaire Rapaille’s website – madly interesting).
The answer came in it’s own time, about a month later, while I was walking to the ablution block of the campsite of the Kalahari Gemsbok Park. It did not come with any preamble – these people live lean. !Khali Gous he said, walking off again. Wazzat? Eks Kyuuz me…Come again? It only registered when people began to address me as !Khali Gous rather than Mama, that this might be the answer to a question I had sent out many sunsets before. Of course I had to wait in patience, to learn more. Like what this unpronounceable mouthful of clicks and pops meant – minor detail to an inquisitive mind tainted with self-importance. “Very small child” he said bending his body to imitate, at another right moment I had to be alert to catch. I think they have a trickster way to tantalize the mind that perhaps the universe knows a thing or two about. The “Why very small child?” question still lingers for me, and has provided its own answers in wonderful ways.
So Leonardo, my friend and mentor…back to my Rennaisance questions for today.
How do I get honest with myself? How do I override these programs in my reptile brain that drive me? How do I ask what I mean to ask? And how do I let go in trust that answers come in the conjunction of right time/right place?
Watch this space…
Beautiful CD recommendation to write to: (thanks Jen Van Pappendorp) Rene Aubry “ Apres la Pluie”