Mankind has always marvelled and envied birds, in awe of the freedom that flight represents. As we work assiduously to create machines that mimic nature, our technology still fails to replicate the sophistication of flight in the natural world, and our feats of engineering, although incredible still fail to engender the feeling of unfettered freedom that we imagine birds to have. Icarus represents the manifestation of this desire for flight in Greek mythology. In attempting to break free from his prison Icarus in entrusted with a pair of wax wings but is also warned against flying too close to the sun (representing hubris) or of flying too close to the ocean (complacency). Carried away by his new found freedom Icarus flies too high, melting his wings and plummeting to his death. The myth gives a stark warning of the responsibilities that come with freedom, the importance of being considered and tempered, avoiding the arrogance and recklessness of the sky and the complacency of the ocean. Of course birds though have no need to consider anything, they simply exist, without comparison or longing for another way of being. To me they seem to represent something similar to the Tao of Chinese philosophy. Tao describes an intuitive knowing, a state of being at one with the universe. A total presence that has no consideration or grasping for understanding. It is often described in the west as ‘flow’. Perhaps this then is the lesson of birds, not a longing for the freedom or experience of another but the ability to know and live the freedom that we are granted in our present state without longing for the talents or experiences of another.

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