Creative Motivations
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Before you Take Flight…: The Icarus Syndrome

“You gave me wings to fly, and I melted them in the sun.”~ Candice Coates

Just the other day I had a thought about false starts, creative false starts, in life, great attempts that reaped no rewards, and foiled efforts that had been torn asunder by the whirlwinds of life.

I thought about my efforts and I how I began many projects with great zeal, ran into obstacles and then after becoming winded and wounded by “failure” felt like I had blown another chance.

“…each failed attempt in our lives is not a matter of flying too high too soon or too low. Sometimes they are just training sessions to strengthen our tenacity muscles.”


The quote above came to mind, and I spoke it aloud. Immediately afterward I had a vision in my mind about the mythological character Icarus. He was given an opportunity, an open door if you would, but with it came two instructions: Do not fly too low to the sea because your wings will grow wet and it will be hard to fly and do not fly too close to the sun because it will melt the wax that holds your wings together and you will fall to your death. 

Most of us know the story of Icarus. Feeling the exhilaration of flying, he forgot the simple rules, flew too high and drowned in the waters below. He died by both rules.

Creative manslaughter.

Like the breaking of the clouds after a storm, and the coming out of a new sun, is the joy that we receive in the face of new opportunities in general, not just those dealing with Creativity.  This can be a door to start a business, write a book, learn how to quilt. Fill in the blank.

The point is we can often times be like Icarus and eagerly dive out into the great open sky without fear of consequences or danger. Or we can be overly mindful of the warnings and drown our potential by aiming too low or burn it up by aiming too high too soon and too fast.

There is a happy medium to beginning anything and it is often best to start there, learn the lay of the land.

King Solomon put it this way:

“To act without knowing how you function is not good; and if you rush ahead, you will miss your goal.” ~PROVERBS 19:2 CJB

Each (creative) opportunity in our lives is a chance to fly. Flying low, aiming low for fear of falling, transforms this gift into a weighty burden that you will soon lose interest in carrying. Your wings are now wet, you sink and drown.

Flying too high, rushing ahead without direction or knowledge, you are liable to be burned, left in debt (If you are one aiming to start a business) and fallback disillusioned and bitter.

Now let me just say that each failed attempt in our lives is not a matter of flying too high too soon or too low. Sometimes they are just training sessions to strengthen our tenacity muscles. These moments make us sharper and more apt to face the tougher challenges that come in the way of the bigger prizes. If we want them we will do what it takes to reap the desired results.

But for those open doors where the “Icarus” syndrome is breathing down your neck, you need to take a moment and ask yourself three questions:

1. What are you “seeing”? (with your new craft or renewed craft)?

2. What are you “saying”?

3. What are you “doing”?

Seeing-VISION: What is your vision? Where are you currently and where is it that you want to end up? What is it that you want the creative process to become?

Saying-VOICE: What is the voice of your creativity? Our words have life, even the words we create through images. What is the message that you want to give to either yourself, your audience or both? What is the lasting legacy of your process? (No matter how macro or micro it may be, what you do/create/say has a lasting effect on someone.)

Doing-DOING: Are you allowing yourself the chance to explore with knowledge? Are you learning your new craft or are you acting like a bull-in-a-china-cabinet, making a mess of a great opportunity because you did not take your time to learn the process?  Are you giving life or are you guilty of creative manslaughter?

“Without a vision, the people perish…” Proverbs 29:18. Taking the time out to really answer these questions will keep you from burning or drowning like our dear boy Icarus. They will help you gain focus on what it is that you are aiming to achieve creatively as well as in other areas of your life.

So take your wings, open that window and prepare for flight, just do so with a destination and some understanding in hand, lest you find yourself falling when you could have soared.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Revised from January 28, 2014

*Photo by Jamie Kern on Unsplash


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