Icarus Flies to The Sun. You Too?

There’s a concept you come across whilst studying the elements of drama, namely tragedy. The concept of Hubris. Hubris is termed as the pride and ego that the tragic hero often possess which makes him believe he is invincible, that he can go beyond what destiny has prescribed for him. It makes him bold and unheeding to the advice of fate and destiny. There was something about this concept that struck me. A very human downfall. Pride is something we all have a misfortune of suffering from. We too often fall prey to our pride, succumbing in it’s darkness. In that way our life isn’t all that different from a tragic hero. We are humans and our tragedy too lies in our human emotions. But it is also our human tendency to strive for something better. To not become a result of our frail human emotions. But how do we manage that. How do we not let pride overcome our lives. Not let it become our eternal mistake. Pondering over this made me recall a story I once heard, the story about a young man who let his ego get the better of him, the story about Icarus.

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Icarus is the ancient Greek story of a young man, the son of a Greek master craftsman; spending most of his childhood in captivity with his father. Until the day finally came, when his father, the greatest craftsman managed to create his greatest creation, a pair of wings. His father created a pair of wings with wax and feather and strapped those onto his youthful sons back, with all but one instruction, don’t fly too close to the sun. Icarus, young and vivacious flew out of his entrapment. With the wind beneath his wings, he flew to heights he never before could have imagined. This made him proud and vain. His soaring gave space for hubris to enter, and he believed that nothing could harm him. And alas! Like every other tragic hero, he fell into the trap of his ego and flew too close to the sun. It caused his wings to melt, plunging him to his eternal death.

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I always pitied Icarus, scorned his pride, and to some extent considered him naive and foolish. But recently I came across a song called Icarus by a British alternative rock band Bastille which made me think otherwise. The song has a line which goes; “Icarus’s life had only just begun. “ This made me ponder the reason behind Icarus’s pride, and made we question whether it was pride at all or not. Icarus was a young man, trapped all his life, waiting to fly outside and experience the outside world, to start living his life. He wasn’t all that different from us. We too spend most our lives trapped in the constricts of our mind, rules of our society, with youth becoming to us, what Icarus’s wings were for him, a means to escape, to fly out, to live. We aren’t very much different from Icarus.

What people call his pride, his invincible attitude can be seen as nothing but his innocent youthful fever for life. The reason that lead to his downfall can be seen as him wanting to experience and live this new life that he was now entitled to do. Icarus is nothing but a reflection of who we are. When we set off into the world outside, we are in the prime of our youth, young, naive and excited. We have just begun our lives and feel like nothing can stop us. Just like Icarus. Is that then our tragic flaw? Or is it exuberance for life, which comes along with youth? We too soar to great heights, letting our success carry us forward to newer and greener pastures in life. And these successful heights brings along with pride, dragging us too close to the sun as well.

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We think ourselves different, smarter than these stories we read,  when the reality is that we aren’t all that different, we are cut from the same cloth. So the question is; will we too in our youthful enthusiasm succumb to the same fate. Well, maybe not. Because we have something that Icarus never had, an example, a chance to do the right thing. Instead of succumbing to his fate, we can learn the difference; difference between vain pride and the fervor to experience life. We can soar and fly high, after all youth is the time to do it all. To live it all. But we must not let pride ruin it for us. These mythological stories are nothing but a mirror into our own lives. It’s up to us to make most of this opportunity. Instead of just criticizing the downfall of these mythical beings, and using it as a conversation topic, we can learn a lot from them. Our lives don’t have to be led the same way as theirs, and we don’t have to make the same mistakes as them. Enjoying life in our eternal youthful sunshine is the way we all intend to live our lives, but we should recognize the difference between innocent enthusiasm and our pride. It’s the realization of this difference that will ensure whether we fly high, or we burn out.

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