Not too long ago, I reread the Icarus Deception by Seth Godin. The book is an allegory for how most of us live our lives – worried about flying too high and thus flying too low, which as Godin points out has its own perils. And, unlike Icarus, we collectively as a society have not been warned about these dangers.
To illustrate this point, I have listed those potential dangers below that occur when we fly too low:
- We say no to opportunities, new positions, relationships, dreams, and/or experiences. That is we say no to growth when we really want to scream “yes!”
- We say yes to unnecessary debt, trying to fit in, unhealthy behaviors, over eating, lack of physical exercise, to a lack of self-care, and to being smaller, silent, and more invisible. That is we say yes to stagnation when we mean to say “Hell no!”
- We become noncomital and uncommunicative, less discerning, ruled (and paralyzed) by fear.
- We give up our power to actualize our dreams.
- We stop dreaming, reaching, hoping, wishing, or allowing for things to be different.
- We stop trying and we stop failing. We stop learning and we stop growing.
- We become stagnant, stuck, and begin to deteriorate – mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
- We settle for, and become imprisoned by, the status quo and wish for life to just get on with it.
Its no wonder that many of us experience bouts of depression, anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, listlessness, sadness, or heartache. We’re flying too low and don’t even know it because we’ve been told to fear soaring, because in soaring, we fly too high and in this state of hubris doom is sure to come. However, doom is sure to come by flying too low. As Godin points out, the other part of the Icarus Myth that is rarely mentioned is that his father Daedalus told Icarus not too fly too low should his wings get wet (and heavy) and thus send him to a certain death in the strong waters that surrounded the place of their capture. And this is what most of us have consciously or unconsciously done. We’ve traded in our wings in fear of what might happen if we were to reach new heights and the cost has been our happiness, our freedom, our joys, our loves, our lives.
So the questions I have for you, the ones I am asking of myself are: How high are you flying right now? In which areas of your life are you flying too low and how can you begin to gain a bit of elevation? What risks might you need to take to soar? What are the costs of you not taking this flight? For if flying too low is a slow and certain death for each of us, the answers (and actions to address) these questions is of vital importance.