Sunday, September 19, 2010

Escaping The Myth

The Legend of Daedalus and Icarus

Daedalus, King Minos' architect, built a labyrinth in which King Minos was able to hide the awful Minotaur, a horrible half-man, half-bull born to his cursed wife. Afterwards, Theseus, an Athenian king, killed the Minotaur and escaped with the king's daughter, Ariadne. At the failure of the labyrinth, Daedalus lost the favor of the king and was imprisoned in a high tower. Daedalus wanted to escape from his prison, but all sea-going vessels were searched carefully.

"Minos may control the land and sea," thought Daedalus, "but he does not control the air. I will escape that way."

Daedalus set to work fabricating wings for himself and his young son, Icarus. Daedalus put many feathers together over a frame of his design, beginning with the smallest feathers and adding larger feathers, to form an ever-increasing surface area with which to harness the power of the wind. The larger feathers, Daedalus secured with strong thread, but the smaller ones he secured only with wax. To his final creation, he gave a curvature like that of birds' wings.

When the work was done, Daedalus, waving his newly constructed wings, found himself buoyed upward on the currents and hung suspended, poised on the beaten air beneath his constructed wings.

But he could not leave without his son, so he had to build another pair of wings, smaller in size. Daedalus equipped his son with the smaller set but cautioned him, saying, "Icarus, my son, I charge you to keep at a moderate height, for if you fly too low the damp will clog your wings, and if you fly too high the heat of the sun will surely melt these wings of yours that I have created for you.

Daedalus kissed the boy, not knowing that it was for the last time ever. Then, rising on their wings, father and son flew off, escaping from the prison that King Minos had put them in. The boy, exulting in his new-found freedom, began to soar upward as if to reach heaven. The nearness of the blazing sun softened the wax, which held the smaller feathers together, and they came off in bundles. He fluttered frantically with his arms, but no feathers remained to hold the air beneath the wings. He cried to his father but fell to the ocean and was submerged in the blue waters of the sea in which he drowned.

Bummer. And the moral is supposed to be that you can't aspire beyond your abilities or something like that. It's probably also a fable about moderation. But I can also see all the trepidations and frustrations of motherhood in this one. You give your children wings, but where they fly and how high is up to them.

For our surrendered children, we were not there to give them their wings. Some of our adult, reunited children never learned to fly. They are still imprisoned in the tower. The tower is constructed of lies, misconceptions and fear. They can't fly, ie; please everyone, and they can't face the possibility of losing the only security they have ever known, however falsely fabricated, so they retreat to where they feel safe, even though their haven can also be their prison. Conversely, some mother stay mired in the prison of their secrets. It certainly isn't just the adoptee that does that, although it is an adoptee that inspired this post.

Facing and examining the truth is not an act of disloyalty and has nothing to do with love unless love has been a conditional thing for an adoptee. Perhaps the perception of adopters as paragons has to do more with the way they were taught to love than the actuality of the love that accepts the person, warts and all, and has no need to try to deny the human faults of the loved one. The adage that "The truth shall set you free" is not wrong. Retreating into the den of denial and lies is not living a free and open life. Yet it is what many choose and it makes me sad to see it happen.

I'm a big fan of The Eagles. Their rough and ready poetry and rock/country sound are the go-to music for me when I need a certain kind of grounding. One of my favorites is  "Already Gone," a golden oldie. I like this phrase.

"So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains,
And we never even know we have the key."

The only key I see to the freedom of the adoptees and the mothers of the EMS is not in wings of feathers, wax and string, but in the key of truth. Towers built of lies are flimsy and shaky. They take a lot of emotional energy to maintain. And, they are never totally comfortable. If we face the truth and speak the truth, loud enough and long enough, maybe the walls of the prison will fall on their own.

It's scary to use that truth key. It is frightening to realize that there is much you believed that never was true. But I have found, for my own self, that facing the truth is better than tethering myself to the lies on the ground, never able to fly at all. It's like lancing a hurt to get over a bigger hurt. And, I have found out for myself that the real world isn't such a bad place after all, once you learn to navigate.

So maybe the real message in the legend of Icarus is all about fear. If the sun is the truth, then the implication is that the truth can kill you. Not so. The truth can hurt, but it can also heal. I much prefer truth to the lies of denial.

And the truth CAN set you free.


Sandy Young said...

LOVE THis!!!!!

There are so many truths in this one that it is incredible. The comparisons are endless in this. If the truth is the tower in which Daedalus was imprisoned, he is the mother and the King (Industry) controls the land and sea (the records and the public image) and only the air (truth) is the means for escape. I love this one, Robin! Excellent post! I find a lot of truth in the mythology of the ancients. They knew their stuff and they knew human nature. And, as much as we would like to think that we have overcome our past and triumphed over it,being so much more advanced than people 2who worshiped gods and goddesses, them ore primitive we show ourselves to be. We are a people who value the god, mammon, above all others and are willing to sacrifice everything to it, even our families.

Von said...

Right on!You can never have too much truth!