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Myth (Reflections on Icarus) Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Zorica Vukovic, Serbia Mar 12, 2004
Child & Youth Rights   Short Stories
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You know when they say “there are days like this” - dull days, slow, inactive, uneventful, not brisk. It seems that some days are completely hopeless, useless, and when they take place you can’t help feeling a loss of some kind, at least – a loss of one day. Wisdom teaches us that we have to learn how to go on and find a way to repel the emptiness of the days like that and finally not to feel bad about them because they will pass. And they pass indeed, but somehow, we never forget the emptiness.

We comfort ourselves with thoughts that these days can happen and comparing to them there is always something worse that destiny can put on our paths, sometimes months, years and even decades of real tragic loss. The time spent in a hospital after some accident that might not have happened at all, but it did, when you recover so slowly that you have to learn to establish new routines and find new joy in your post trauma life trying hard to ‘live from the beginning’. Timeless, countless hours are spent after the loss of someone close, when you feel like you can’t stand to live any longer yourself and all your hours are grey and meaningless, like all lights are gone. Tragic years spent in places of destruction, war and poverty where tiniest hope in humanity is the only food you can get, but it fades quickly faced with cruelty and despair.

There are also much more benign hours, days, months and years of waiting for something that you believe you know and after some period of waiting, more waiting and even more prolonged waiting you realize that your time has passed, all clocks have stopped and all that you were waiting for has been irrevocably changed or maybe even lost for good. Then you feel the deepest loss – betrayed hopes, the more painful the more time you were flying high on the wings of hope, where you can blame no one else, not destiny but yourself.

The myth of Icarus, symbolizes not youthful ignorance, but rather - lost hopes and dreams, lost ambitions and devotion that everyone had once and that we still cherish. Daedalus, a father of Icarus in the legend, is a symbol of wisdom, experience and care of the very same person who used to fly high once (or more than once?) and fall down very painfully, sometimes almost fatal. As someone who is living his “other life” now, Daedalus is Icarus some time after, somewhat cured, recovered, changed, ready to use the next chance the other way.

We will never stop wondering what the point of that mythological flight really is. What the life really is about, that is. Is it simply to move from one point to another, to escape from one place to another or to touch the Sun of love and hope, to extend your wings and reach the highest point of your might and passion? Or is it to become a living legend or a legend famous by death? That is the question that this classic legend will impose again and again on new generations, but the decision of choosing between moderate and rational risk-planning oriented approach and a blind wish to fly to the heights that no one has ever reached before bordering with fatal desire to dive into the light and melt by the Sun, is something that can happen in any moment of anyone’s life. That’s what our fragile lives are all about.

My daughter Tina is writing about life as a maze at 16, most probably trying to master what’s this all about, and I see it as already half abandoned playground at 43, or at least something that has no charm nor is scary for me any more, and I need new challenges or maybe return to the old ones – the challenges of my own youth? Does it mean that our ambitions are growing, and our needs to touch the base and join our ideals become mightier as we grow older? In other words, do we become more and more prone to act like Icarus when we get older and disobey the voice of reason, ignore the loads of experience, forget the pain and fly again? Only our might is not as powerful as it was in the days of youth. Do we seem to “choose” the middle way in our middle age desperately wishing but not being able to fly high any more? Are we simply making our choices under the pressure of fear being frightened all the time – when young scared by material labyrinth we are not afraid to fly over it towards the light and when old scared by (previous or just eventual) fall we choose to stay in already mastered darkness of the known maze, having no confidence in our, once deteriorated, wings any more?

Even in a moment of a dull day each one of us is both Daedalus - experienced, patient and extremely cautious - and Icarus, the passionate one, trembling of excitement, zeal and ardour to reach new skies, pass all frontiers and do miracles – packed so tight in one person. While one part is trying, with more or less success, to master the maze of material life on the earth (the sooner the better, even to the point of making the maze for the others), the other one never stops wishing to fly away and up to the skies of freedom, love, beauty and total devotion to some higher purpose, or just pure joy of being alive, maybe (making the living legend out of the oneself for the others)? Maybe that desire doesn’t fade, but on the contrary, grows stronger as we approach the last moment of our lives?

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Zorica Vukovic

Zo belongs to a generation of average middle-aged intellectuals who grew up in a unique environment of the country known as the former Yugoslavia, which shrank in the last decade of the 20th century, divided into a few new states through civil war and finally dissolved into a union of states known as Serbia and Montenegro. She writes from her early youth, neither living of it, nor even living for it, just observing and meditating upon various issues of life and humanity. Her totemistic values are: love, creativity, ethics and the daily improvement of communications and actions on a global level.
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