Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Renaissance Mind

Sorry for the lack of posts here over the last month. I haven't had much time outside of school and work to maintain a regular writing schedule. However, I have made some very interesting observations. Over the last several years, a friend and I have often discussed how we feel mentally "sluggish," compared with the acuity we maintained when immersed in engineering coursework in college.

Now, two semesters into my Ph.D. program (electrical engineering), I notice a significant difference in my mental agility. My thinking has greater clarity; I've noticed that my mental "pictures" are more focused and sharp. And I attribute this improvement to my engineering studies.

There are side effects to this work, though. As I focus more on engineering principles and analytics, the part of my mind that writes seems to be taking a vacation. Leonardo Da Vinci, that great Renaissance thinker, accumulated hundreds of journals, while at the same time generating brilliant engineering designs, painting, sculpting, etc. How was he able to tap into the parts of his mind that excelled at mathematic principles, and then paint a masterpiece and record his unique observations of the natural world?

I'd love to hear others' experiences on this topic. Have you been successful in the mental agility displayed by Da Vinci? How? Have you too noticed that it's a struggle to get seemingly disparate parts of your mind to function optimally?