Jonathan Livingston Seagull was no Ordinary bird

September 01, 2020

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is said to be the most celebrated fable of our time. The entire book is about an ordinary seagull who against all odds trained itself to soar high into the sky and fly like the rest of the birds. He did not want to fly for the sake of fighting for fishheads to eat from the fishermen’s boats. If its short bird life was worth living, he had to be free to be what he wanted to be and to go where he was free to go. “Why, Jon, why?” his mother asked him, “why is it so hard to be like the rest of the flock, Jon?” There are some things mothers do not understand.

During a practice when Jon flew too high and was about to smash into the brick hard sea which could end his life, thoughts flashed across his mind. “I am a seagull. I am limited by my nature. I must forget this foolishness. I am done with the way I was. I am done with everything I have learned.” From that moment on he vowed he would be a normal seagull . It would make everyone happier.  

But then it was only a flash regret born in despair. A hollow voice from within struck him - “Seagulls never fly in the dark. If you were meant to fly in the dark, you’d have the eyes of an owl!” There in the night, a hundred feet in the air, Jonathan Livingston Seagull blinked. His pain, his resolutions, vanished. In a V turn, he climbed two thousand feet above the black sea without a thought of failure or death, brought his forewings tightly into his body, left only his wingtips extended into the wind, he fell into a vertical dive at 140 miles per hour. Then he eased out of the dive and shot above the waves. It was pure ecstasy!

He broke the promise he made to return to the flock. “Such promises are only for the gulls who accept the ordinary,” Jon said to himself.

This book should be read by every child and young person. We are  limited only by our own perceived  barriers of being what we can be.