I am so excited for today’s guest blogger, Marcy Kennedy. Marcy’s blog, Life at Warp 10, is one of my absolute favorite blogs. She is a fellow nerd and is a master at taking familiar stories that we nerds love and applying them to real life in some profound way. That is exactly what she has done with today’s guest post, this time through the story of Icarus. Without further ado, I will hand it over.
Icarus and My Fear of the Sun
I have an unusual fear, one I don’t normally talk about. I’m terrified of ending up like Icarus.
Icarus’ story is one most of us have heard. Icarus and his father, Daedalus, were imprisoned in a tower by King Minos so that Daedalus couldn’t share information with the public about the Labyrinth he’d built for Minos. Because Minos guarded both land and sea routes, chances of escape seemed slim.
But Daedalus was a talented inventor. To escape, he created wings from feathers and wax for himself and Icarus. He told Icarus not to fly too high, or the sun would melt the wax holding his wings together, and not to fly too low, because the spray from the sea would saturate the feathers and drag him down.
Partway home, Icarus, drunk on the joy of flying and freedom, forgot his father’s warning and soared too high. The scorching sun melted the wax, he lost all his feathers, and he plunged into the sea below. In the end, he drowned.
Like most people, I’m afraid of failure, of getting my feathers wet because I couldn’t figure out how to fly high enough, and simply sinking away into the sea. Forgotten.
But I’m more afraid of success.
It’s why I don’t know how to take a compliment. The first time my flute teacher told me my low notes sounded full and rich, I can remember not wanting to play any more low notes in front of her. What if that success was a fluke and I couldn’t replicate it? It sounds silly, but it’s true.
Every time I succeed, or receive a compliment, like Icarus I want to fly higher, do better next time. I want the joy in that moment to last forever. But I also I don’t want to disappoint anyone who had great hopes for me. I want to live up to all their good opinions and show them their faith in me was justified. Each success takes me higher and means I have farther to drop should I fall.
And with each success comes the fear that I’ve finally gone too high and reached a level I’m not able to maintain. I’ll scorch my feathers in the sun and free fall, disappointing everyone who glued a feather onto my wings.
I think, though, that I might have finally figured out the secret to staying in the air, even if I start to fall. Icarus and his father were alone on their flight, so his father couldn’t warn him in time and, when Icarus fell, his father wasn’t able to save him. One set of wings wasn’t enough to hold up two people.
But two or three sets of wings might have been able to support the additional weight. If we surround ourselves by a loyal group of friends rather than going it alone or only flying with one, we’ll have people who can catch us before it’s too late. We’ll also have extra sets of eyes to warn us if we start to fly too high and take on more than we’re capable of handling. Together, we’ll all be able to reach our goals.
Are you more afraid of success or of failure? Who do you look to when you’re afraid you’re about to fall?
Marcy Kennedy is a fantasy author who also works as a freelance writer for magazines, newspapers, and non-profits and a freelance editor for both businesses and individuals. Her current work-in-progress is a co-written historical fantasy about Amazons. When she’s not wrestling unruly commas, she spends her time with her equally nerdy husband, her Great Dane, and more cats than she’s willing to admit to in public. You can visit her at her blog, Life At Warp 10.