The Greatest Gift

The greatest gift anyone can give anyone else, is life. We all understand this, on some level. Mothers know it in their bones. We fathers have to learn it for awhile, in order to live it. Which is, why I sometimes begin end my speaking engagements with the affirmation: To be a good father, is a high aspiration for any man.

The perfect metaphor for this gift, the gift of life, is a set of wings. But not just any wings. I mean a fully functional set of long, golden wings. Wings meant for nothing less than to carry the bearer aloft into azure skies, billowy white clouds all around, and a yellow sun high overhead.

The perfect allegory for this gift is the legend of Daedalus and Icarus from Greek mythology. My latest book, Icarus and the Wing Builder, tells their story in modern English. It resonates into the present as a piece of Bronze Age historical fiction, full of love, betrayal, adventure, slavery, and coming of age for both of them: Icarus into his own manhood and Daedalus through his own midlife passage.

The picture in the header is the view of the seascape looking west from the island of Santorini. It is the remnant caldera of an ancient Mediterranean volcano. Today, people travel to this barren place from all over the world just to watch the sunset. Four thousand years ago the picture was very different. Before 1650 BCE, you would have been looking east at the fertile flanks of an active volcano. You would have seen leaping gazelles, wild bulls, hot springs, lakes, and waterfalls. You would seen rich mineral deposits of copper and tin. At the time of the first fight of Daedalus and Icarus, this island was the center of the most advanced civilization in the western world, the Minoans. In his flight north from Crete, Daedalus used the rising heat from the volcano to regain lost elevation, so that he could continue to glide all the way to the island now called Ikaros. To find out more, you’ll just have to read the book.