Sunday, April 5, 2009


So one of my favorite musicals is "1776". It's one of those that if it is ever done around here, I'd audition in a heartbeat.

Anyway, besides the great music and very obvious theme, the characters include many of my favorite people I'd like to meet someday but just won't in this lifetime. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams (not the beer), Caesar Rodney, and of course, Thomas Jefferson.

Amongst other things, Jefferson was a farmer, an architect, a writer (he did the Declaration of Independence as you probably know), a lawyer, a diplomat, an inventor, a Vice President and a President, and as the song from the musical says, he played the violin. The guy was a real renaissance man. He did a little bit of everything.

I have been interested in historical figures for a great many years now, which probably explains why I "want to leave a mark on the world", as I read about people like Jefferson, who had many of the same interests as I. I am actively pursuing becoming a renaissance man, but I don't know what has to happen to finally earn the title.

When I was in boot camp for the USMC, we were constantly being told that we were not Marines yet, we had not earned the title. And it wasn't like we could just title ourselves. That graduation day on April 10 of 1992 was life changing for me, as it was the first day I could wear the EGA (Eagle Globe and Anchor, the symbol of the USMC) and really claim it as my own.

How does one do that to be a Renaissance Person? There is no symbol for it. No tests or degrees. Here's a list of things that I do. I'm a writer, a musician, a craftsman in stained glass, metal, wood, I'm a bowyer, a knifesmith, a blacksmith, a gardener, a pilot, and although I have no "formal" training (ie: no degree in the subjects) I have studied astronomy, architecture, botany, animals of various shapes and sizes - including how to fix them when they're broken, I've studied renewable energy like wind, solar, and biodiesel (and have a great idea for a little home based wind and sun powered generator) oh, and I'm a bit of an inventor too.

If I had lived back in 1776, I would probably have fit right in. These days it seems like you have to have the special paper from an accredited university to actually count for anything. Maybe I'll start a Renaissance University where people can submit examples of their works and studies and get a degree. Hmm. Gotta run, maybe it already exists!

More Later

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Oh but John... you ARE a true Renaissance Man!!
Just off the top of my head I can think of even more things to add to your list...
you can juggle, eat fire and do magic tricks (clown?) You are an athlete (national swimming championship team member) youth minister, inspirational speaker, lifeguard, over-the-road trucker, paramedic and wonderful husband, father, son, brother and friend... and... you canoed the Mississippi!
Someday I'll try to list ALL the things you do and have done...You certainly don't need a piece of paper to validate your worth! But Renaissance U sounds sort of fun! :)