Learning from Leonardo

Da Vinci's Genius Habits

Leonardo da Vinci's Connessione: Seeing the Interconnectedness in Everything

By Linda Dessau | Posted 8/6/06 | Updated 4/6/23

Da Vinci's Genius Habits

Da Vinci's appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things enabled him to see and use the larger picture to his advantage.

When my mind gets to wanderin’, I find it truly extraordinary to examine the seeming coincidences in my life and in the world at large.

When I cleaned out a drawer in my office, I got a new contract.

When I stopped worrying about the solution to a problem, a solution appeared that I NEVER would have thought of.

In How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Gelb defines the concept of Connessione as, “A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking” (220).

He describes the many “playful, imaginary combinations” (224) that Leonardo made.

How does this relate to — connect with — our expression of creativity?

As artists we delight in “playful, imaginary combinations” — we're in the business of creating things that didn't exist before.

Our playfulness can be seen when we manipulate objects, words or ideas into new forms simply because it delights us to do it.

Our imagination is inexhaustible.

And we specialize in combining colours, thoughts, words, textures, designs, ideas, movements, notes, or other things in two's, three's or more, until we end up with a completely NEW thing.

He points out that it's really human nature to seek connection, and that we all do it, “physically, we seek health (the word health comes from the Old English root hal, meaning ‘whole’), affection, and the ecstasy of sexual union. Emotionally, we yearn for a sense of belonging, intimacy, and love. Intellectually, we look for patterns and relationships, seeking to understand systems. And spiritually, we pray for Oneness with the Divine” (228).

Many artists I spoke to during my creativity interviews spoke about not feeling whole unless they were expressing themselves creatively. Creating is our way of connecting with the world, expressing our emotions and affections and finding the place where we belong. It's the way we make sense of the world and our own thoughts, and it's the way we seek and achieve spiritual expression.

When we're creating, we tap into a flow of creativity that exists everywhere and through all time; we're connected to everything that's ever been created and everything that ever will be created; we're connected to everyone who's also connected; we're connected to a flow of divine energy.

“Painting doesn't freeze time. It circulates and recycles time like a wheel that turns. Those who were first might well be last. Painting is a very slow art. It doesn't travel with the speed of light. That's why dead painters shine so bright.” — Marlene Dumas

No wonder being blocked from our creativity can be so painful and lonely. All of a sudden we go from being ‘part of’ this immense connection, to being all alone and cut off. Cut off from a part of ourselves; cut off from creativity as a whole.

Gelb suggests, “thinking about the origins of things is a great way to appreciate Connessione” (237).

So what is the origin of an expression of our creativity?

The creative flow calls you. It's sent the impulse to create, and a vision or feeling or wisp of an idea to develop. You've already been blessed with the talent to carry it out, otherwise you wouldn't have the desire to do it. From there, we aim to get or stay in the flow, to connect and tap in.

Copyright ©2006 Linda Dessau. All rights reserved.

How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

Da Vinci's Art and Science

Using both sides of your brain.

Da Vinci's Sfumato

Opening to experience.

Da Vinci's Dimostrazione

Learning from your mistakes.

Da Vinci's Corporalita

Taking care of your body

Da Vinci's Sensazione

Awakening your senses.

Da Vinci's Connessione

Seeing the connection in everything.

Da Vinci's Curiosity

Being curious about everything.