There's a painting by Bruegel the Elder titled "The Fall of Icarus". It was painted somewhere between 1590-95.
In case you don't know the legend... Icarus and his father were captives on the isle of Crete who escaped when they made wings from sea bird feathers, wood and wax. But Icarus was so entranced with flying that he flying, higher.. higher.. till the sun melted the wax holding the feathers on his wings and they tore apart.. and Icarus fell to the Earth and drowned in the sea.
Can you see Icarus? The farmers certainly haven't noticed him and maybe you haven't either.If you look bottom right, just below the man in white.. you'll see the scattered white feathers on the sea and two legs disappearing into the water. Not even the ships have noticed... life goes on oblivious to tragedy.
That's what makes this painting so clever and painfully sad... because everyday life goes on oblivious to tragedy.
Earlier this week it was such a lovely sunny day that at lunchtime my dad and I went to sit outside to drink our coffee in the summer sunshine. We chatted, the birds sang... and out at sea, just beyond where we sat looking at the view, two RAF Tornadoes crashed into the sea. We only found out hours later on the TV news.
life goes on oblivious to tragedy.
Two pilots were rescued from the sea, but the other two have not been found and are presumed dead. At this stage one of the rescued men has died and the other is still in hospital.
I kept seeing that painting by Bruegel yesterday... thinking how everyone on shore went about their lives as Icarus died. The similarities haunt me... how we sat here in the garden as other families had their lives torn apart by this terrible tragedy.
For all four pilots and their families...