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
Icarus, from Greek mythology, has often been associated with youthful carelessness. Donning wings of feather and wax, his demise came from flying too close to the sun. Not paying heed to caution, he became enraptured by the sensation of flying and ached to go higher. Rising too high, his waxed wings begin melting, sending him plunging towards the sea.
But what if Icarus was more a pioneer than someone filled with childish hubris?
The world can be harsh to pioneers in the midst of their exploration. A pioneering spirit surges within each of us. It is an inherent propulsion that tugs and invites us into mystery and discovery. Left unexplored, we might never leave the radius of what’s familiar.
It is critical to discern what behaviors are childlike – a pure willingness to be available to discovery, and what are childish. Childlike does not imply being silly or foolish. Ernest Holmes in his book The Prophecy of Jesus talked about our eternal desire for searching. He said it is an inherent yearning because what we are seeking is a greater degree of our infinite wholeness. “It implies the attitude a scientist must have as they stand in awe before the majesty and might of the laws of nature. It is the wonder a great mathematician must have as they contemplate the infinity of numbers.”
We can disconnect from that rapturous sense of childlike awe simply because previous flights of seeking ended unsuccessfully. We may even be compared to Icarus for having the audacity to try on a new pair of wings after embarrassing failures. Yet, as we explore, we expand. As we expand, we embody more of the wholeness that is our essential being. And it is our essential being that will continuously beckon.
To some Icarus was childish. Others may feel he was childlike. And in the harsh world of public opinion, you will never be able to control other’s judgements regarding your creative choices.
But as poet Jack Gilbert wrote, “Everyone forgets Icarus also flew.”