When Leo Met Leo – Da Vinci and DiCaprio Talk Climate Change
It’s a regular day in 1969 Manhattan. The sun is out, although barely visible from the driver seat of your average New York taxi cab. A cabbie, dressed in a short-sleeved multi-colored shirt, is driving around searching for clients. As he approaches a busy intersection, a white light envelops the man for a few seconds.
The new person temporarily residing in the cabbie’s body realizes that he is about to run a red light. He stops in the middle of the crossing, almost running over a man wearing a cowboy hat and another one in a white jacket suit and pants.
One of the men, the shorter of the two, angry, lets a cigarette fall out of the corner of his mouth as he yells “I’m walkin’ here! I’m walkin’ here!” and slams his palm against the hood repeatedly. He proceeds with his angry tirade as the driver speeds off, somewhat taken aback by the events.
The cabbie rounds a corner in order to get over the embarrassing situation and move on with his day. He seems to notice a bright white light out of the corner of his eye, but as he turns towards it, the light is gone. However, on the sidewalk, there is a man hailing the taxi. The taxi stops, the man gets in, and the two drive off.
After saying an address which the driver determines could only be located in Little Italy, the old gentleman who got in the back seat starts looking out the window. They soon come upon a traffic jam the likes of which neither man has seen before. Wanting to make sure he’s going the right way, the cabbie asks his passenger for directions.
“Experience is a truer guide than the words of others,” replies the Leonardo Da Vinci. Seeing the confusion on the driver’s face, he continues. “If you find from your own experience that something is a fact and it contradicts what some authority has written down, then you must abandon the authority and base your reasoning on your own findings.”
“I’m still exploring in a lot of ways. I don’t know, myself, completely,” says Leonardo DiCaprio, hoping to get a straight answer from the old man before the traffic clears up.
“All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions,” says the passenger, visibly more interested in the discussion.
Realizing that there really is nowhere to go but slightly forward until the traffic clears, Leo replies to the old man. “Don’t think for a moment that I’m really like any of the characters I’ve played. I’m not. That’s why it’s called ‘acting’.”
Da Vinci, more interested in the young man than ever, says to him, “[Ah, so you’re an actor.] Beauty perishes in life, but is immortal in art.”
“Being dubbed as a hunk sort of annoys me. It gives me a yucky feeling,” confesses the movie star. “You can either be a vain [actor], or you can try to shed some light on different aspects of the human condition.”
“Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose,” says the old man with hope in his voice. “I awoke, only to see that the rest of the world is still asleep. [It would appear that you, my friend, are not.]”
“A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules,” replies the young man, smiling. “Raising awareness on the most pressing environmental issues of our time is more important than ever.”
“I love those who can smile in trouble,” says the Renaissance painter, smiling himself. Then, slowly, his expression becomes somewhat grim. “[I must concede that] the discovery of a good wine is increasingly better for mankind than the discovery of a new star.”
“Sometimes I wonder will God ever forgive us for what we’ve done to each other? Then I look around and I realize God left this place a long time ago,” says the young in a frustrated voice, still keeping his smile. “I’ve just got to maintain my passion for what I do. […] If you can do what you do best and be happy, you’re further along in life than most people.”
Admiring the driver’s resolve to change the world for the better, Da Vinci proceeds to share his knowledge with the actor. “You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself. The height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment.” He goes on, increasing the speed of his discourse as he sees the man listening intently, “[However,] being willing is not enough. We must do.”
“As we progress into the twenty-first century, anyone who considers themselves a realist will have to make the environment a top priority. […]If we do not act together, we will surely perish,” continues the actor. “We all have to do our part.”
“Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are most active,” advises the old man. “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.”
“I don’t have emotions about a lot of things. I rarely get angry, I rarely cry. I guess I do get excited a lot, but I don’t get sad and enormously happy,” starts the young man, carefully measuring his words. “[But I do believe that] raising awareness on the most pressing environmental issues of our time is more important than ever. [I’m saying that because] it’s a weird feeling when people are defining you, and you haven’t even defined yourself.”
“Learn diligence before speedy execution,” replies the man of science. “Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it. [But] nothing can be loved or hated unless it is first understood.”
“I have learned from my experiences […] that there is absolutely no way to control people’s opinions,” says DiCaprio, disheartened but not defeated. “[But] I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you.. to make each day count.”
“Whoever does not respect life, does not deserve it,” comes the inventor’s reply. He is referring both to the young man’s confessed respect for life and to his woes about the task ahead of him. Then, in a more comforting tone, “we might say that the earth has a spirit of growth; that its flesh is the soil, its bones the arrangement and connection of the rocks of which the mountains are composed, its cartilage the tufa, and its blood the springs of water.”
“I think the environmental movement is the biggest people’s movement in the world,” says DiCaprio reinvigorated. “Unfortunately, our governments and corporations haven’t responded accordingly to protect our planet’s natural resources.”
“Whoever in debate quotes authority uses not intellect, but memory,” presses the old man. “[But] obstacles cannot bend me. Every obstacle yields to effort. […] Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works.”
The driver nods approvingly. He then jumps, along with the older gentleman, as the car behind them blares its horn enthusiastically. Before any of the two can say anything, the bright light from the Quantum Quote Accelerator starts spreading across their bodies. It fully envelops them in a couple of seconds, and the two Leonardos are sent back to their respective timelines.