Friday, February 15, 2019
Delray Beach, FL.- It’s impossible to see the pyramids of Giza, the Colossus of Rhodes, or the Great Wall of China without thinking about the will it must have taken to build these wonders of human creation. They were built thousands of years ago when the technology for building at that scale didn’t exist.
Even something as “ordinary” as the Palace of Versailles, built in the 17thcentury by Louis XIV, is awe inspiring.
Or how about what it took for Michelangelo to paint the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel… or Mozart’s gargantuan struggle to compose his Requiem… or Thomas Wolfe’s painful work revising Look Homeward Angel…
And that’s to say nothing of scientific or business or military accomplishments.
Most of what we think of when we talk about human “achievement” is the result of one part inspiration and nine parts long and sustained effort, often under difficult conditions, focused toward a specific objective.
In fact, this quality of sustained and focused activity towards “making” new and bigger and better things could be said to be distinctly human. Animals are capable of hard and sustained work to create food and shelter, but they do not create new things for the purpose of bigger and better.
Put conversely, if human beings were not capable of such focused effort, civilization would have enjoyed few (if any) scientific, industrial, social, and even artistic innovations throughout history.
The impulse to fix, improve, enlarge, and beautify seems to be hardwired into our brains. There is no human society that hasn’t produced inventions and art.
But what is the thing that drives people to do these things?