Thursday, December 1, 2016

Revising the story of Icarus

Imagine Icarus fashioning his wings. He is a boy creating his own bid for freedom. He believes twigs and feathers held together with wax will lift him from his prison, carry him up, over the sea and deliver him to safety and a new, full life.
         In the traditional telling of the story Icarus makes a mistake. Against his father’s warning, he flies high, too high and the sun melts the wax that holds his wings, and his dream of freedom, together. Icarus falls out of the sky, plunges into the sea and drowns.
         What is the lesson there? More often than not the moral put forth is that if you fly too close to the sun your wings will fail and you will freefall. In other words, if your ambitions are too great, if you try to reach too high, you will fail, suffer and be killed. Where is the hope in that?
         I can see a different lesson. It may be that Icarus only needed more preparation, consideration and faith.  
         Maybe with stronger, more fully-realized wings and considering what other materials could have been used to bind the wings together, and a greater belief in those wings, Icarus could have stayed air born.
         With a change in perspective, I can see Icarus flying higher and higher. It isn’t so much that there are endless possibilities, rather that a life that went crashing into the sea really did not have to end that way.

         I am Icarus. I have been in my prison for so vey long. I am ready to lift myself out of it. I could move with haste and produce shoddy wings. Or I can be steady, prepare thoughtfully, make a plan, follow it and do the work. If I can do that, I’ll fly higher and higher. And always be warmed but never burned by the sun. 

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