Icarus and the Sun

Mythology for you. You’ve probably heard this…or maybe recognise the story vaguely.

Icarus flies too close to the sun with wax wings. The wings melt and he falls into the sea and dies. What a heart warming story!!

A bit more detail. Daedalus was an amazing craftsman. He designed the labyrinth of the Minotaur in King Minos’s palace. But King Minos isn’t a nice guy so he locked Daedalus in a tower so that he couldn’t talk about the secrets of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. Which is poor payment for a job well done. But Daedalus decides to escape with his son Icarus. He uses feathers to make wings and binds them with wax. Daedalus gives his son two instructions. The first part of the advice is the advice that is remembered. Which is to not fly too close to the sun. Icarus, quite naturally, has fun flying and disobeys the instructions. He flies higher and the sun melts the wax and he falls into the sea and dies. The part of the story that is forgotten is that Daedalus also told Icarus to not fly too low. The story took on a moral of “don’t aim too high.” But flying low was just as equally dangerous because the water would have damaged his wings and he would have died.

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It’s an important myth because there is no greater metaphor to be used than the sheer simplicity of flying high or flying low. Sure, we shouldn’t be reckless and fall into the sea because we’re overambitious. But it’s just as equally important to not aim too low. Because there’s a real safety and security in flying below the radar, so to speak. Your safety zone is comfortable. It’s cosy, you could say. But you have to leave your comfort zone. It’s the only way to make the journey worth it. It doesn’t take anything special to do something special. It just takes the courage to follow through.

“No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.” – Seth Godin

Because your biggest regrets aren’t the mistakes you make along the way. Your biggest regrets are the things you didn’t do. The things you wish you had. It’s the road not taken.

So go do it. And don’t apologise for doing it.