Thursday, 5 July 2012

Life goes on Oblivious to Tragedy.

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.

Here's the painting...

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...


  1. Thats so sad..I am truly sorry for those families and will keep them in my prayers. And its true, life does go on..I think about that too, allot. I guess we couldn't enjoy life at all, if we knew everything that was happening all the time. I know when I was going through any of mine, it was something to see how life just went on around me. xo

  2. beautifully written, Michelle. I agree w/ Kim, though - life is filled with BOTH tragedy and beauty - ever-present beauty is the only remedy for the every-present tragedies of life.

    after all, what really can we do other than enjoy the beauty until death knocks on our own door?

    Like many others, I've become transfixed with tragedy when it was big and writ large on tv screens, newspapers, etc. But at some point it becomes obsession (I've obsessed) and pathology (been there) and we move past the empathy of life for life and to a darker place.

    Remembrance. Beauty, Life, Tragedy, Death.


  3. hi kim
    lynetta's right - well said. xoxo

    hi lynetta
    thank you. yes, i find the media news can overwhelm with gloom if you watch/listen/read constantly. sadly.. tragedy sells better than good news. :-\

  4. SO SORRY to hear about this...hope the bereaved get some comfort and in the end, peace...

    What you wrote is very true, though...that we go on oblivious to tragedy...our "universe" stays the same whereas those people's universes are now filled with holes and cracks...

    My Mom says that each of us has our own "crosses to bear"...our own paths to walk on...our own cracks and holes to deal with...

  5. That was a very honorable tribute you wrote to those men.

    I often think about news stories that report on a tragedy in some celebrity's life while there are so many unknown people facing so much worse and we never even know about them. I guess it all comes down to taking care of the people in your circle the best you can.



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