October 23, 2015

Womankind 6: Mona Lisa

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Most of us have an inkling of what we want out of this life. For some it’s a career of sorts, or we wish to excel at something in particular. “I want to be a writer, a film director, a world renowned photographer, or I just want to be famous for something, anything.” Fame, wealth and the money to buy lots of luxury consumer goods appear on the wish list of many.

Finding a goal in life and chasing it relentlessly has almost become a mantra of Western civilisation. Affirmations such as: “To succeed in your mission, you must have a single-minded devotion to your goal”. In other words, you’ve got to spend every waking hour on that novel, or film, or business idea, regardless of the obstacles. With hard work it will all turn out, somehow…

But in Renaissance times, a single-minded pursuit of any goal was limiting, dull; it lacked imagination. Leonardo da Vinci was not just the painter of the Mona Lisa, he was a mathematician, a scientist, engineer, geologist, sculptor, astronomer, and cartographer. People who study a range of subjects, who indulge in the multifarious fruits of life, are called polymaths. By pursuing myriad goals we gain perspective; we become fascinating, layered creatures, full of unexpected knowledge, quirks, and skills.

The trouble with spending a lifetime in pursuit of a single goal is – what happens if it doesn’t work out? And what momentous life moments do you miss along the way as you plough away, nose to the grindstone? At least one thing’s for sure: pursuing multiple interests, passions, and goals will make for a much more interesting life. And isn’t that what it’s really about?

Antonia Case, Editor, Womankind magazine

Womankind 6 ‘Mona Lisa’ is out in news agencies and bookstores on Monday 26th October. You can also buy copies online here.

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