"Don't fly too close to the sun." But what about Mars?
Could Elon Musk be a modern day Icarus, flying too high and at risk of losing his feathers in a melty mess?
The famous myth offers an interesting lens to look through.
'Each one of us had already guessed that we were sons of kings and queens, and somehow had landed mistakenly in our prosaic and dumb family...', writes Robert Bly in Iron John: A Book About Men.
He speaks of the "puer aeternus", the holy or eternal boy, the man who is unwilling to remember ugly facts from childhood, who looks away from disorganisation, abandonment, abuse or lack of protection.
Icarus, the eternal boy, is a flyer. He will not accept limitations, is generally averse to a boring life and seeks perfection in whatever he participates in. Not in the negative sense, but because he always chases the light, moving upwards.
What's the problem with that?
Aside from the heat of the sun melting your feathers off (poor Icarus), chasing the light eternally deprives us of the fortification available from facing the inevitable darkness. So when darkness happens upon us, and it will, it's almost unbearable.
A shedding of feathers, causing us to fall into the metaphorical ocean.
Who knows how we will react then.
It also makes it hard for one to remain grounded and committed - whether to a career, a cause, a relationship, responsibilities; anything that resembles the mundane.
So what is Icarus teaching us?
Remembering that a myth is a collection of lies that tell the truth, perhaps this tale is an invitation into introspection around where we are at.
Are we flying too high, ambitions unchecked, a spiritual juggernaut unwilling to stop at anything? Or, are we gliding too close to the water, at risk of getting our feathers wet? A life lived under the soles of our feet is not an ideal one, either. But there is probably a better myth with which to discuss that angle...
The flyer is not wrong. Actually, they bring many blessings to our society in the form of grand visions, and the pioneering of views from new heights.
The ones not ready or willing to attenuate likely won't recognise themselves in the myth of Icarus, and that's okay.
For those that do, there is an opportunity to reverse engineer the myth and cultivate more presence and commitment:
~ Face the past. Be in the messiness. Embrace the ugliness. Learn to be with life in all of its shades. Then, perhaps, you will be able to glide down, find peace with where you are at, and land your feet comfortably on the ground, like Daedalus did. ~
Will Elon's feathers fall off, causing him to plunge into the ocean? No one can say. But for now, he seems to be doing just fine up there, Tweeting away.
I'll be watching with curiosity for his next step. It takes a special kind of courage to fly like that.
Do you know the myth of Icarus? Here is a quick synopsis:
The myth tells the story of Icarus and his father Daedalus, a master craftsman, who fashioned wings made of feathers and wax to enable the two of them to escape a dire situation they found themselves in. While his father survived, Icarus did not heed the warnings offered around flying too close to the sun and was unable to resist the allure of coasting higher and higher. He perished as a result when the sun melted the wax that held the feathered wings together.