We know the story of Icarus. His father, Daedalus, was a master craftsman After defying King Minos, they were both imprisoned, but Daedalus developed an escape plan. He made them both wings which were fastened to their backs by wax.
Before setting off, Daedalus gave his son a warning. “Do not fly too close to the sun.”
As the story goes, Icarus become so intoxicated with his ability to fly that he forgot his fathers words. Flying over the sea, the wax melted and his wings fell off. Icarus fell to his death.
The lesson of this story, according to Godin, is one that we have been told all of our lives.
Don’t disobey the king. Don’t disobey your dad. Don’t imagine that you’re better than you are, and most of all, don’t ever believe that you have the ability to do what a god might do.
If we pay attention to the story, and those that tell it, it would seem that flying as low as possible is the safe way to go. Stay low. Stay hidden. Stay safe.
In other words, don’t dream too big. Don’t imagine more. Don’t challenge the status quo.
And this is the Icarus deception. That flying low, playing it safe, blending in with everyone else, doing what you are told, is safe.
Our culture wants us to play it safe. It doesn’t want us to develop a newer, better way. It doesn’t want us to think and to experiment and to do things on our own.
According to Godin:
We’re so obsessed about the risk of shining brightly that we’ve traded in everything that matters to avoid it.
Godin wants you to fly higher than you even thought possible. He wants you to stop playing it safe. He wants you to shine brightly. He wants your to dare to do what the gods do.
And you soar higher, you stop fitting in and start disobeying the rules, by making art.
For those of you who haven’t read Godin before, don’t misunderstand what he means by art.
Yes, art is music and poetry and photography and paintings. But art is much more than that.
He defines art in this way.
Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another. Art is the act of a human being doing generous work, creating something for the first time.
A painter can copy the work of another, but he is no artist. A writer can churn out novels written based on a formula of what seeks, but if the work makes no connection, if it requires no courage on his part, it isn’t art.
You don’t have to use paint or a typewriter to make art. You can do it anywhere with whatever tool you choose to use.
But you have to choose it.
How do we make art?
- Make connections between people or ideas.
- Go where someone has never gone before, working without a map.
- Speaking up when there’s no obvious right answer.
- Make yourself vulnerable.
- Caring about the process and outcome.
Art transforms. Art is risky. Art is generous.
This type of work demands more than following the rules. It demands more than playing it safe. It demands “bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness.”
Art is something an artist does. And Godin again argues that every one of us can be an artist.
Yes, even you.
Why You Should Make Art (And Fly Higher)
The answer is simple. You should make art because we need you to.
The world needs your contribution. The world needs your insight. We need to see the world through your eyes.
So, the question remains. How high will you fly?
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