I find it interesting how what we value might be perceived as different to what others value. Similarly, that how we demonstrate what we value can say a lot about us.

Much as I like time with my family on holiday, I like to seek some time and space with a beer or coffee taking in sky and clouds and having a good think. I call it ‘holiday head space’.


I let thoughts come and go, see what sticks or what I can let go. It’s partly how I relax.

This year I went to Zakopane in Poland with a few days in Krakow. What surprised me, and I acknowledge my ignorance here, I expected more information to be translated into English.


It wasn’t and we struggled. The odd picture didn’t do much to reduce the confusion either! Some folk in the service industries offered help but then they would as they wanted return visits. But some didn’t. That probably comes with the territory when you go somewhere different.

We found it odd, frustrating even, that people wanted to help but limited translated material appeared not to help them help us. It’s what I now refer to as ‘devaluing friction’. There follows a more specific example.

When we were in Krakow we went to the Castle and Cathedral. There happened to be a Leonardo da Vinci on show; The Lady with an Ermine.


It wasn’t on my bucket list but for 80p equivalent entry I thought why not?

Heavy security, dimmed lighting, humidifiers and restricted viewing meant the experience of how the painting was presented and accessed appeared more of a feature than the painting itself. There was also a mismatched value between the entry fee and the painting which was probably worth 10s of £millions.

How could something so potentially impactful have such a mismatched explanation, limited translation and promotion which then created something potentially less credible? Perhaps the entry fee was about bringing art to the masses which is fair enough but limited promotion didn’t appear to help.

As there was little information in English prior to seeing the painting, I thought I’d do a bit of research and found this link to a post by Tim Rayner whose blog I follow.

Whilst it’s more about Leonardo da Vinci than the painting, what struck me were the following paragraphs which coincidentally touched on stuff that had been floating through my ‘holiday head’. I’ve copied the relevant parts below but you should read Tim’s post in full and his other stuff as it makes you think and is rather good!

“One lesson we might take from Leonardo’s story concerns cities as hubs of creative culture. Authors such as Richard Florida and Steven Johnson have explored how cities become hubs of knowledge-sharing and innovation, nurturing weak-tie networks that enable creative action. The lesson that I want to take from Leonardo’s story concerns how we should live in order to develop a creative personality.

No one bursts into the world aware of everything that they are capable of thinking, feeling, doing and being. If we know ourselves at all, it is only because we have discovered our powers in the course of engaging with others and experiencing life. We need to test ourselves against the world to see what we are made of. We need to throw ourselves into life, sensitive and vulnerable to the affects our encounters produce, and learn from the results.

Living from the heart doesn’t mean leaping into every project that comes your way. If you leap into every project, you’ll exhaust yourself. Before leaping into anything, you should find a fit. You need to engage with new people and projects experimentally, attending to how you feel as you negotiate the tasks and relationships – exhilarated, intrigued, encouraged, or scared.”

Tim goes on;

“When you open your heart to the people around you, treating them as friends and companions on a common journey, something magical occurs. The passions that you sense in others start to resonate in you. Left to our own devices, we tend to retreat into comfort zones. We fall back on familiar ways of thinking, feeling, acting, and living. We become existentially conservative, shying away from new, strange, or difficult tasks, and gravitating towards activities we know we do well. The result is that we fail to explore our full palette of powers.

Like mediocre artists, we paint the landscape of life out of primary colours, ignoring the vast array of alternatives that the colour spectrum presents and the thrilling task of discovering them through experiments in combination and mixture. It doesn’t have to be this way. The broader and more diverse the set of powers we have to draw on, the easier it is to tackle life productively and creatively. New challenges can be a learning experience. A new situation can be an opportunity to experiment with formative powers and to work them up in order to draw on them further down the line.”

Powerful stuff!