In order to escape the labyrinth, Daedalus created some sweet-looking waxwings for his son. But he warned his son not to fly too close to the sun because they would melt. Icarus got cocky and ignored his dad’s warning. He zoomed straight up to the sun and his wings melted. Icarus plunged into the ocean, he died, and we all learned a valuable lesson: don’t fly too close to the sun, kids.
That’s the story I always knew. Don’t shoot too high or you’ll get burned.
But that’s only half the story…
What Daedalus actually told his son was: “Icarus, my son, I charge you to keep at a moderate height, for if you fly too low the damp will clog your wings, and if too high the heat will melt them.”
The sun isn’t even mentioned first.
Daedalus tells his kid not to fly too low OR too high. This blew my mind. As Seth says in his book, (and I’m paraphrasing here) this myth, which society has ingrained in us as a cautionary tale about not standing out, is also a story about not settling for low expectations and small dreams.
This is what is fascinating about story. Leave out one important detail, and the story takes on a completely different meaning. I like this new interpretation of the Icarus myth a lot more than the one I thought I knew. I never want to fly too low and play it safe. I don’t want to be afraid of the sun. Besides, it’s really, really high up. I don’t really think I’m in danger of hitting it.
I want to soar!