Tag Archives: flying

Icarus Flying


Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew. It’s the same when love comes to an end, or the marriage fails and people say they knew it was a mistake, that everybody said it would never work. That she was old enough to know better. But anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

~ Jack Gilbert, “Failing and Flying”

I’ve never been one to enjoy studying Greek mythology. Somewhere around the second or third name of a god my attention span skids to a halt and my brain refuses to entertain another piece of information. Always has been that way.

Except for Icarus.

The story of Icarus always fascinated me. Perhaps it was the idea of his ambition, his desire to fly further, farther, closer, even at his own peril. Perhaps it was pride that sent him falling. Perhaps trying to flee, or trying to be free. Perhaps it was my interest in aviation and flight.

Most often the story and images focus on the fall of Icarus, the failed attempt. Bruegel’s painting above is one of the most famous. I first encountered that work after reading a piece by W.H. Auden who commented about the work:

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster, the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green water,
And the expensive ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Honestly, I think it is simply the desire, the quest, that appeals to me. Why I like the lines by Jack Gilbert so much — most people often forget that Icarus did in fact fly.

[This post is #9 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please click on the button on the right side of the page for more information about the challenge or to locate others participating — there are more than 1600!]

Previous A-to-Z posts:
2012: Inquiring Minds
2011: Indulgence

Leave a comment

Filed under April A-to-Z Challenge


Hot air balloon at sunset

Hot air balloon flying at sunset

I pick the prettiest part of the sky and I melt into the wing and then into the air, till I’m just soul on a sunbeam.  ~Richard Bach

It was sheer luck I happened to have my camera with me the evening I shot this photograph.  At the time, I didn’t yet have my smartphone, camera at the ready whenever I want it.  No, back then it was an entirely separate piece of equipment.  One I didn’t do much with.

But that night, when I left home to go out for a much-needed walk, I happened to grab my camera to take with me.  I’m not sure why.

For that matter, I still don’t remember why I looked at the sky.  It could have been to see that magnificent Midwestern sunset, the extravagant colors painting the sky over fields of crops and dirt and trees.  I hope that was why.

I do remember being surprised to see the pinpoint of the hot air balloon, silently making its way across the evening sky.  It was far enough away that I couldn’t hear the hiss and groan of the fire stopping and starting as it floated gently beneath the clouds.  But as I paused to watch them slip into the western sky, I wondered about what the world was like from the basket of that balloon.  So different from looking out of an airplane window.  Flying, open to the sky and the air and the quiet, in a beautiful balloon.  Up, up and away.

As I watched the balloon disappear and the sunset that followed in its path, I found myself breathing deeply, the knots in my shoulders unraveling, reclaiming a moment of peace from another hectic day.  I was refreshed.  Renewed.  Encouraged to try again, to free myself to fly –not as far away as in the planes that left those contrails, mind you– but just enough to find a piece of sky to call my own.

And those days when I need just a touch of encouragement, a reminder that it’s okay to fly –days like today, for example– I try to recapture that piece of sky, that peace of mind, I captured in that photograph.

What kinds of things encourage you?  What things help you fly?

[Note: This post is #5 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge.  Please see the button at the lower left of the page for more information.]


Leave a comment

Filed under April A-to-Z Challenge, Life