Colorful, Curious Rebels
French music played in my head, it always does when I sip espresso outside of some European Café. I hear Champs Eleysee or Le Vie En Rose thrumming away. Sometimes I think my life is a musical, and I’m the only one that hears the music. Other times I think I’m crazy.
Leaning to the side I lightly grab the arm of the waitress, “Kann Ich bitte ein mal espresso haben?”
“You can speak English,” She says, “ Your German not very good.”
I suppress the urge to tell her the same.
“You always were so smooth Animus.”
Turning I see my sister standing with her hands on her hips. She smirks.
“I don’t care sis. I’m just trying to get better.” I stand to greet her.
“Well aren’t you a perfectionist.” We hug and then sit down.
“I try. So how was Spain?”
“Gaudi is amazing. He’s such a freak.”
“His art work is eye popping. The guy was a master.”
“I’ve seen better. Like in Rome and even in the States.”
The waitress returned and set down the espresso. “Anything for you miss?”
“A beer.” The waitress walks away and Sarah turns to me. Now it’s my turn to smirk. “What, we are in Germany. I’m just trying to appreciate all the subtleties of their culture.”
“At 9 am, now who’s a freak?”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” pulling off her light blue scarf she drapes it over the chair between us. “I meant he pushed boundaries with his work.”
“He’s a rebel.” But he was a master, I thought. “I remember thinking the same thing about Michael Angelo… but I also thought he was a work horse. He was always studying new methods, cadavers, and trying to perfect his work.”
“An Insatiable curiosity.”
“I never thought about it like that.” My mind wandered to some of the other artists I’ve always admired. They were rebels pushing the boundaries of convention. They were also curious about the world, not just the scope of their professions
Later, when my sister would head to the airport, catching a flight back to the States I would sit and think about our conversation. Today excellence is just as rare as it was hundreds or even thousands of years ago, and we construct empires not statues or frescoes. But, what it takes to become great hasn’t changed despite our world becoming more and more complicated. My sister and I hammered out two of the most important characteristics of those who have achieved excellence- curiosity and rebelliousness- but I later added a third: color.
I’m not talking about pigments on paper, but attitudes. Great people have colorful personalities by nature of living with principles. Take Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, a man who changed the world through architecture but who also found many enemies along the way. These individuals are as polarizing as they are curious. Another man cut from this same cloth is Nikola Tesla. When he was experimenting with his Tesla Coil he would fill the air with cracks of lightening and flashes of electricity on the outskirts of Colorado Springs. People were scared.
To those who don’t share their same convictions and standards these people just seem off beat, marching to their own drum. Although eccentric at times, these influential people shaped the world we live in. It is the three traits above that led me to coin the phrase “all excellent men and women are colorful, curious rebels,” and it is with this phrase that I ventured out to discover those who were masters at their crafts. After diligent reading and research I discovered that all of the people I studied had these three traits in abundance.
Now, my friends, I share this lesson with you in the hopes that you too can glean something useful from these shining lives. If you always remain curious about the world and live with principles you will you will be a rebel against the status quo, but you will also the world a better place.