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Greek Mythology tells us the story of Icarus.
Icarus and his father, held captive on the Island of Crete, attempt to escape imprisonment using wings made of wax and feather. If flown too close to the sun, these hand-made wings would melt; too close to the sea, and they would clog. So his father warns Icarus of hubris and complacency. Icarus pays no mind, blasting through the clouds with uncontrollable excitement, soaring straight towards the sun. His wings melt, and Icarus falls to the sea.
Society often misinterprets the Icarus myth as one of conformity and humility; by following orders, and staying within boundaries, we remain safe. This middle ground, between complacency (having too little pride) and hubris, (having too much pride) is where we’re urged to stay. Reach for the stars – but not too high. Dream within bounds. That works, right? Just look at Albert Einstein. Or William Shakespeare. Elvis Presley.
The truth is, societal rules and parameters confine us. They destroy the innate, human desire to push, question, challenge and risk, cementing us to the ground and discouraging our potential. It’s only when we break free from convention that we experience truly breathtaking, mind-blowing brilliance.
Icarus was deemed mad, but his madness was simply unrelenting curiosity. Often times, to be “mad” is to achieve the greatest victories in life. We all have the potential to be artists and innovators; to create extraordinary things and dream up extraordinary dreams. But to do that, we’ve got to step out of our comfort zones, lose our fear of potential criticism, and plunge into possibility with open arms.
“Never regret thy fall, O Icarus of the fearless flight. For the greatest tragedy of them all. Is never to feel the burning light.”
~ Oscar Wilde