• Styles Yugen

The Icarus Illusion

I can’t stand it when I’m told to smile. I’ll smile when I damn well please, not for your pleasure or comfort. I’ll smile when it’s worth it, because once upon a time, I did smile--all the time--and all it did was make my smile worthless. It meant nothing to me anymore; it became an empty gesture. Like when asked how you’re doing, it’s like always saying “fine,” no matter how you’re actually doing. The world’s colors wash out, losing their luster and importance. And before long-

Grey clouds.

Grey food.

Grey people.

Smile too much: grey fucking smile. A good smile is like properly used punctuation. Use it too much, or for the wrong thing, and it stands out in all the wrong ways before being ignored. But what can I say? I’ve been told I’m a sad person--just as many of you out there probably know yourselves to be--and that I choose to be so.

It made me realize something though, because they’re right. An old barkeep friend of mine used to tell me I was level headed, even keeled, whatever you want to call it. I didn’t have points in my life that were incredibly happy, just as I didn’t the abysmal ones.


I’ve been living in the middle in an effort to protect myself from those lows, and by doing so, choosing to avoid those highpoints. Sounds a little crazy, perhaps, but I believe that if you don’t soar, you don’t have as far to fall. By not rocking the boat, one can avoid falling into the ocean.


Just as Icarus from legend. Fly too close to the sun and your wings melt, making the rocks below all that sharper. Nevermind soaring again after picking up the pieces. But it’s the second part of the legend that is often forgotten: don’t fly too low either, because the seawater will ruin your wings. My thought? Bring a boat, not wings that will melt because of the sun, nor dissolve because of the ocean.


I watch people live their lives. Many soar to incredible heights, and it’s inspiring at times, almost enough to incite envy. But then, with enough patience, I see the same people plummet into pits so deep I doubt they can see sunlight. It was difficult to watch at first; it was hard not to try and help.


But it only takes so many broken bodies on the rocks to drive the point home. Live your own lives how you want, don’t sway because there are societal norms people expect you to conform to. If you are content living a life without rocking the boat, don’t feel bad when you look into the sky and see the birds amongst the clouds. They fall if you watch long enough.


And for the love of all things, don’t tell me to smile. I’ll be happy at my leisure. But then again, a perpetual scowl gives premature wrinkles--you gotta smile sometime or risk your scowl becoming permanent.


Styles Yugen, signing off.


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Science Fiction and the pursuit of escapism, 2020.