Ti Ti Teaches a Myanmar Myth
To Her Sister

Every culture has wrestled with the meaning of life and struggled to understand our cosmic place in the universe. The Western world is based upon the Greeks. The English writer, Percy Bysshe Shelley, expressed this truism when he wrote, “We are all Greeks.” In fact, if you wish a lecture of mine, click on this PowerPoint, “We are all Greeks.”

The Greeks were into storytelling to reveal their cosmic place. These stories were called myths or legends. They were a way of teaching what was important to the people of Greece. For example, the famous story of Icarus (Ἴκαρος) is an example.

Icarus wanted to fly like the birds. Icarus and his father, Daedalus, were in prison on Crete by King Minos. Daedalus had given a ball of string to Ariadne, which provided a means for Theseus, after defeating the Minotaur, to find his way out of the Labyrinth. However, that’s another story.

Daedalus and Icarus discussed a means of escaping from the Labyrinth. Daedalus told Icarus that he would make a set of wings for the two of them, which would allow them to fly to freedom. After much work, Daedalus crafted a set of for both of them. When the day came for them to escape the Labyrinth, Daedalus cautioned his son, “Let me warn you, Icarus, to take the middle way, in case the moisture weighs down your wings and you fly too low, or, if you fly too high, the sun will scorches them.”

Icarus is falling….

Daedalus and Icarus both took off and began to fly like the birds away from Minos’ prison. Nevertheless, Icarus feels the exhilaration of flight. Icarus enjoyed being able to fly like the birds. The Greeks called this false pride, hubris. Hubris was the basis of most all the Greek tragedies.

Filled with hubris, Icarus flew too close to the sun, which caused the wax to melt resulting in the feathers falling off. It wasn't but a nanosecond or two before Icarus plummeted to earth.

However, that myth is dated. It was written over two millennia ago. In the 21st century and on the other side of the world from Greece, I have written about my family in Myanmar. Ti Ti, my oldest granddaughter in Myanmar, started college last Friday. She is a freshman at Gusto University in Yangon. However, due to COVID-19, she is going to college on-line. This is a picture that Moh Moh sent me. Both Ti Ti and I spend much of our lives in front of a computer.

I met Ti Ti nearly seven year ago. Since then, I have returned to see my family twice. I have written about going to Ocean Supercenter, which is what we call a department store. We went there for lunch on my second trip. Like many American department stores, Ocean has a nice restaurant. We were all seated and given menus. However, I noticed that Ti Ti wasn’t seating down but rather was up making sure her two younger sisters were cared for. Ti Ti was their junior mother. It was her responsibility to make sure her two younger sisters had all that they needed.

Interestingly, Ti Ti is a 21st century female version of Daedalus. She is teaching Fatty, her youngest sister Myanmar’s version of Icarus. In this version, Ti Ti is telling Fatty not to fly too close to the Sun or your wings will melt. Ti Ti and Snow, her middle sister, call me PaPa Al. For years, Fatty insists on calling me, Bo Bo Gyi. Bo Bo Gyi was a famous Buddhist nat or what we call a saint in the West.

Fatty’s retort to Ti Ti’s warning was her warning, “Bo Bo Gyi will probably write one of his articles about us…so smile!”