When I was in grade five, I had to write a three to five-minute speech and recite it from memory in front of the class. For my topic, I chose “The History of Aviation”. That is how I learned of Daedalus and Icarus.
If you took any courses in Greek Mythology in university, or if you are an avid reader, you may already know their story. They have come up in Jeopardy questions more than once.
At the time when I wrote the speech, there was no internet. I did all of my research for the speech using the World Book encyclopedia. That fact has nothing to do with the story, it’s just that sometimes I like to reminisce about the “Good Old Days”.
My parents donated the World Book set to the school ages ago, but I still have this copy of Microsoft Encarta ’96 on CD-ROM:
I am going to tell you about Daedalus and Icarus the old fashioned way, using obsolete tools from my past. First, I must get Encarta to install on Windows 10. Fortunately, my laptop is kind of old and still has a CD-ROM drive.
<five minutes passes>
To my surprise, it actually installed with little difficulty. It failed initially, then Windows 10 automatically applied some compatibility settings and resumed installing. The file path where Windows wanted to install the program was too long for 1996 standards, so Encarta complained, but once I specified a shorter file path, the installation continued successfully.
People can say what they want in the Macintosh vs. Windows debate, but when it comes to compatibility, Windows wins in my opinion. Good luck trying to install a 23-year-old program written for a Mac on the latest Mac operating system.
Now that Encarta is installed, let’s see if it will actually run. Yes!
I type Icarus into the search field. An entry comes up:
Icarus. See Daedalus.
Okay. Daedalus is hyperlinked, so I click it. This comes up:
Daedalus, in Greek mythology, Athenian architect and inventor who designed the labyrinth for King Minos of Crete. It was built as a prison for the Minotaur, a man-eating monster that was half man and half bull. The labyrinth was so skillfully designed that no one who entered it could escape from the Minotaur. Daedalus revealed the secret of the labyrinth only to Ariadne, daughter of Minos, and she aided her lover, the Athenian hero Theseus, to slay the Minotaur and escape. In anger at the escape, Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in the labyrinth. Although the prisoners could not find the exit, Daedalus made wax wings so that they could both fly out. Icarus, however, flew too near the sun; his wings melted, and he fell into the sea. Daedalus flew to Sicily, where he was welcomed by King Cocalus. Minos later pursued Daedalus but was killed by the daughters of Cocalus.
“Daedalus,” Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 96 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. (c) Funk & Wagnalls Corporation. All rights reserved.
Thanks, Microsoft, and a shout out to Funk & Wagnalls. Funk & Wagnalls, you have an interesting sounding name, and you made my first dictionary (circa 1987), so thank-you:
If you’ve stuck through this post thus far, I commend you. Like Matlock defending an objection from the prosecution’s bench, I assure you I am close to making my point. I can’t promise it will have any coherency or legitimacy.
Judge: “You may continue, but would you please confine your dialogue to the issues at hand.”
Ah yes. Icarus and his Daddy Daedalus. I wonder if that’s where the word Dad originates from. I would look it up and let you know, but that is a rabbit hole I can’t afford to go down if I’m going to keep this under 1,000 words. Also, I will not be Googling anything today. I am strictly using Encarta 96.
The Encarta entry is not as detailed as I remember from the World Book. I remember there being more of a lesson to the story, like something about being balanced. Don’t fly too low, but don’t fly too high. Or maybe something about obeying your father (The way I remember the story, Daedalus instructed his son on how high was appropriate to fly). Or maybe the lesson was about ego – Icarus was too cocky, so he got what he deserved.
The reason I bring this up has to do with a person in my life that is striving to be a better man. This friend is very successful in life, but he wants to have better relationships and more meaningful existence. He speaks a lot of positivity (it takes seven positives to cancel out a negative) and meditation (having a calm mind). He has sent a lot of positivity my way and helped to “talk me off the ledge” of a cyclic negativity pattern that is, unfortunately, part and parcel for my personality type. I’m a INTJ-T (Shout out to Scherezade Ozwulo, whose blog post pointed me in the direction of this personality type test).
My friend sounds like a good guy, right? He is. So what in God’s Green Earth does this have to do with Daedalus and Icarus? When it comes to blogging, he is warning me not to fly too close to the sun. In fact, it feels a little like he’s telling me to keep my feet on the ground. When I talk about blogging he gets a smirk on his face like I’m a child going through a silly phase and the day will soon come where I finally stop it.
Does he really think the true path for me is to hang up my wax wings of writing and go back to the grind? Give up my dreams and work for him, in an office, staring at emails and answering phones? Working with cold, hard computers, instead of exploring the imaginative world of words and ideas?
Can that be what life is all about? Working for these pathetic paper bills so I can afford matching cutlery?
I have talked to many interesting people so far in this journey of writing. I hope to talk to many more. I fear that the influences in my real life want me to lay down and die in this labyrinth, just another dead sheep with nothing to talk about except what I watched on Netflix or bought at the store.
So, I’m sorry, Daedalus, but this time I am going to head for the sun. And if I fail…
It won’t be my first sunburn and it certainly won’t be my last.
I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has shown me support during my mid-life crisis.