Breaking free of our bonds can send us soaring. Or it can make us crash hideously. Sometimes the same experiment or adventure can lead to both results, and sometimes that can happen in short shrift. Hubris leads, often enough, to overreaching and all manner of unrealistic expectations and lets us take stupid risks, if we get too caught up in our dreams or delusions to pay attention to their practical details.
Breaking free of all constraints has its challenges; it can be a long, laborious, and sometimes dangerous task.
Icarus, My Cousin
A bird, aloft on updrafts in the sun
Above the path, could see one tiny soul,
Alone as if in death, yet singly, whole,
Complete and full contented as that One—
For on that path, and in that blessed place,
He knew such deep delight, such peace and calm
From drawing in each breath of nature’s balm
With that sweet sun so gentle on his face—
It seemed that like the bird, he too could fly,
Could rise above the green enchanted wood,
Need only think it and, behold, he could
Leap up at will, suspended in the sky—
Yet, knowing he could not thus really do,
He suddenly wept, bitter now with rue—
So turns the heart of merely mortal man,
Full in one moment of outlandish joy;
The next, despairing like a little boy,
Because the joy’s imperfect, as it can
Be seen by clearer eyes to truly be;
So rose that wanderer up to the crest,
Where soon the path was free of trees, and best,
Clear-viewed down from the cliff there to the sea—
He bound upon his shoulders feathered wings,
Sleek as the bird’s, to take by force his flight
And steal the sky, but its great burning light,
The blazing sun, had no use for such things,
And cast him, melted, in the ocean swell,
Gravity’s slave, thrown back from heav’n to hell.
The world, powerful as it is, cannot fully contain me.
For myself, I will concede that I have been known to aim higher than my reach many a time, to think I am better or more skilled or more prepared for certain things than I really am. I have gotten knocked on my backside more than once; turned down, failed, fooled, exposed. There are fissures in the earth to prove the grandness of my fall. But what little I have accomplished was done mainly by dint of that same outsized expectation of my success, and without that I would hardly have moved since birth. So while I may grow and change as slowly as a tree breaking roots out of its paved prison cell, I will take my cue from that tree and keep expanding and hoping, and just see what I can do.