I was once part of a dance piece called Without Fear of Vertigo. In the piece, the girls wore long, golden dresses and each of us had a pair of wings that slipped over our arms through iron rings. These wings were hard and heavy but read on stage as soft and beautiful. Without Fear of Vertigo was about Icarus who flew too close to the sun. It was about rising like a phoenix out of fear and into illumination and freedom.
I have flown too close to the sun. And I have landed with a thud, leaving a pile of broken feathers. But I have also learnt to lift my feet off the ground and spread my arms again and again. And again.
There are men in this life that teach you to be untrusting. There are men in this life that have mastered the art of taking while ignoring that of giving. There are men in this life who will cut your wings because you threaten to fly. When you have flown with this flock of men, it takes a while to unlearn the ways they have burnt into your navigation system.
At some point the unlearning is aided by the company of the good flock of men. I have known these ones too. And they are so powerful that when you fly with them your wings receive an extra push of air.
There is much to be fearful of. There is much that invites you to keep your wings tucked in. In this life there are no certainties and even the great ball of fire that tempted Icarus might explode one day and save us all the trip. But what can we do if we do not explore and trust and abandon fear? Some days I think Icarus was a fool and some days I think he was a magnificent genius.
The biggest gift we all have is resilience. Vertigo is learnt behaviour – much like distrust and doubt. In this dance piece, I remember being carried across the long back of a man with just my ankles and feet across his shoulders. We were meant to be dead Icarus angels – our wings spread out behind us. It hurt my shoulder blades and my young back like hell but it looked absolutely mesmerizing on stage. Each night, as we danced without fear of vertigo, I remember wondering if he would ever drop me. He never did.