Healthy lifestyles were a challenge during the lifetime of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). Events that unfolded during these years created general boundaries for the modern world new and old. By then a fellow citizen of what would become Italy had opened up a new world, while Leonardo was some times forced to move to Avignon in France while armies of Florence fought off Venice who fought them all off. In fact in one of these flights for a more healthy lifestyle than dying, he brought along a painting, which he offered the King of France, who was also one of several Popes at that time, safe harbor.
So we should all stop our frowns that the Mona Lisa was war booty by some Napoleon, who did take much from many. But the Mona Lisa, we now learn, was as payment for several years protective custody, where he lived in secure luxury and created much. So, dear France, I take back my fierce glance: your Mona is yours, as if payment to Rome, for healthy lifestyles to Leonardo, until a nicer Borgia said it you can come home.
And my leap to the present is to touch on the point, about how Leonardo would discover a body in it's complete sense, including doing autopsies to peel away a dead corpse of a human, skin through muscle to organs and bone. He did this once at an old home when he asked questions of a man in his nineties some of his ways. The gentle man talked as our wisdom today, he was poor but he counted his blessings. He tried to be kind and thoughtful to others. He could savor the joys of his long life during famines and plagues. He thanked everyone, was a forgiving soul. He was still close to his family, and he ate well, and walked. He was careful to not fall, as he saw many people end this way.
And then he died. Leonardo was so overwhelmed he requested, and was allowed to do a complete autopsy of this wonderful man. He found a body still inside so unusually young, while he had lived through so much.
So we do know that Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa as his inner eye saw her. He created her skeletal structure, and then filled in the organs and over them the layers of muscle. And over those layers he pulled on her skin, and popped in her eyes, and worked on her smile. There are many layers of muscle under that skin and those lips, and that is one of the magic of her eyes as well. They are rounded with layers, as people can see, that when you walk right to left, her eyes follow you. And her smile changes too. That is Leonardo for you.
My wonderful large book on Leonardo, I have mentioned before, was given to me by a wonderful man named John. He had been a navigator during World War Two, and his caution for air flack had him one of the few to have flown so many missions and made it back each time. They were usually the last to arrive, and always the other half of the mission to make it back had landed earlier, and had the best seats at the bar.
The other pilots, while mourning those did not return, could always tease the pilot of John's aircraft, late again. But as always, John had kept them alive, and was evading killer fighters and every shooting site he could see. And if he had to zig zag them from Bavaria to Denmark he was taking them home in their same skin. But they were not heroes, as they were not first. But they did still survive, still were alive. Some times it is wise not to rush, but observe. Then orient yourself, decide, and then act on your nerve.