I Wanted to Be a Renaissance Man When I Grew Up
I went into present a Teacher Tuesday award to a teacher at Poudre High School a few weeks ago, and when we ceremoniously burst in on her class, she was in the midst of teaching about the Renaissance. It reminded me of the fascination I had with people like Ben Franklin and Leonardo Da Vinci when I was a young man.
I loved the idea of the poet who could fight, or the athlete/scientist/musician. When I was at Penn State, I hung and worked with a group of guys who were at college to truly stimulate their brains. We weren’t just there because we felt that college was the only way to get a good job in life, although that may have played a part in it. We wanted more than that. We’d debate politics and sports in the same conversation. Music was a constant topic, We read all the classics so that we’d be well versed in their subjects and themes.
I remember when I first heard of the idea of the ‘Renaissance Man’. I thought, ‘Of course that’s the way to be. Who wouldn’t want to be as well rounded as that?’
I feel that I have, at least in part, become what I dreamed of as a teenager, as have many around me. I have friends who can quote Emerson on the chairlift, can do some custom woodworking while advising me on my finances, and who can talk about art in the gym.
People now, more than ever, seem to have wider ranges of tastes in music, travel, books, movies and art. Today’s renaissance person could also be considered an ‘unlimited person’. You don’t have to ski or snowboard, you can do both. More and more people are proud of their unexpected or unusual hobbies and passions. Lines of expectations are being blurred and erased all the time, so that men can enjoy needlepoint and women can hang at the gun range without anyone heaping their archaic expectations on them.