The Icarus Deception
The Temptation To Fly Too Low
I was on my way home to visit my mother, whose is steadily sliding into dementia. Just as her mother did.
In an attempt to keep my mind from miserable thoughts and the seductive whisper of Fear, I instead decided to focus on the joy of flying. 30,000 feet above the ground. In a metal tube that at the time was all over the sky like a combination roller coaster & tilt-a-whirl ride at the fair.
Fitting, then, that I should turn on my iPad mini, tap open the Kindle app, and find a book I had downloaded 3 years ago and never read: The Icarus Deception, by Seth Godin. You will remember that in the version of the Icarus story that most of us were told, Icarus and his father were prisoners. His father fashioned wings for them to fly to freedom made out of wax and feathers and warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, lest his wings melt. Guess what? Icarus ignored his father’s warning, flew too high, his wings melted and he fell to his death. It was a bad day.
Did You Know…?
According to Godin, there is actually another part of the story that I never heard and I bet you never have either.
His father also warned him that flying too low was even more dangerous because the sea water would ruin the lift of his wings. The danger in flying too low is even greater than that of flying high because staying low feels deceptively safe.
By omitting the other part of the story, the safety zone was moved!!!!!
It turns out that Icarus fell to his death not because he flew too high, but because he didn’t pay attention to the temporary limiting conditions.
T E M P O R A R Y. That’s a pretty important detail.
The archetypal story so many of us have playing in the background is a tale of foolish disobedience, arrogance that is punishable by a terrible fall. BEWARE OF FLYING TOO HIGH!
Meanwhile, the real danger is being lived day after day by creative, talented, and uncommonly gifted people who are trying to be responsible and super careful not to fly too high.
And instead are aiming deceptively low. Really low. With nothing to warn of what could be lost except some inner feeling that something is off.
Something is just not right.
A restlessness that will not settle.
An itch that won’t go away.
A yearning. For more. Much more.
Are you one of those flying too low? Aiming to play it safe by not rising too high?
Not high enough in your thinking? In your expectations?
And instead find yourself being pulled down by the drag of untried possibilities.
Struggling to hold back the passion and energies and urgings of your spirit in order not to rise too high? Go not too far from a common life?
But what exactly does it mean to “fly too low?”
1. It means making decisions based on fear rather than desires that speak to freedom, joy, authenticity, personal well-being, etc.
2. It means holding back, covering up, down playing uncommon abilities, unique insights, personal “Woo Hoo’s!!!!”
3. It means going into demure, deflect, deny, or dismiss mode when complimented. (I recently introduced myself to a new relative as “Crazy Aunt Sha” instead of “Awesome Aunt Sha.” Bugs the shit out of me that I did that. Low. That’s what I mean.)
4. It means caving to the admonishment to not be, look or act ‘foolish’ at the expense of laughter, fun and lightness of being.
5. It means that fear of succeeding at living a nourishing life or answering a call that only you can hear, is more terrifying than regrets about having been afraid to try.
6. Perhaps most of all—and this is big—it mean’s being stuck never knowing the freedom and transformative power of being able to see from a higher perspective.
Raise your hand if you know you are flying too low. And if you are sick and damn tired of cruising at the same low down, boring attitude—I mean altitude.
Now I am speaking to you as one who has had a fearsome terror of heights since I was 5 years old (literally and figuratively), and who is now gaining significant loft as a direct result of shedding long worn disguises.
Here is a secret I can CONFIDENTLY share with you:
We are smart, tuned in, responsible savvy people. If you decide to see how high and far you can go with your life, you will be checking in with yourself and your Comfort Zone Indicator (CZI) pretty much at all times. It will not fail you. Or maybe I should say, you will not fail you.
Your Comfort Zone Indicator is a tool—not the Holy Bible. Your CZI will tell you that you have reached—or possibly breached—the outer limit of your comfort. You have the opportunity then to THINK ABOUT IT. Is what you are doing or about to do reasonably safe?
If you weren’t afraid, would you do it? If it turns out you look foolish, or are a little embarrassed is that ok? Not the end of the world?
For example, I am going to learn to do live streaming—Periscope, Facebook Live, whatever.
For some this is easy peasy. For me, not so much. Truly outside my Comfort Zone. And it requires being able to be ok with looking and sounding foolish, inept, old and irrelevant. (Won’t be the first time, as you know if you have been with me for a while.) Every upward climb in this process has required “beginner’s mind”—over and over again. Intimacy with discomfort.
And dread of falling—on my face!
But here’s the thing about Dis-comfort. It bears paying attention to, examining, honoring, and even acted upon. It can be a valuable navigation tool.
But it should never be The Boss. Definitely not The Captain flying the plane, steering the ship, or defining the journey.
After honestly considering the validity of the message, avoidance of discomfort just because we might have reached the boundary of what feels safe and easy, is never going to take us where we really want to go.
Discomfort is a tool, my darling, not the voice of your Soul, not the voice of Freedom.
And then take action that is aligned with your heart’s desire.
“Falling into an unknown future—and accepting the fact that it is unknown—
is forever the price of true freedom.”
Pamela Eakins, Ph.D., Tarot of the Spirit
YOU and I are a smart, savvy, responsible, tuned in people. We are perfectly capable of flying as high and far as we are hankering to go. We know how to adjust our wings, make the most of conditions and go where we desire. We’ve got this.
YOU’VE GOT THIS!
If you haven’t been feeling exhilarated by Life and the view from where you are, consider your altitude. Maybe it is time to go higher.
WHAT’S YOUR ALTITUDE RIGHT NOW? RIGHT THIS MINUTE AS YOU READ THIS? ARE YOU EXACTLY, PRECISELY WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?
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