‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ and Taking Flight in your Life
Fun fact before I leap into my dissertation. The famous book Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach – the topic of this piece – was a favorite book of my forever boyfriend, Michael Jackson. Michael loved this book so much that he gifted it to someone else also very special to us all, the late great basketball all-star, Kobe Bryant.
Bryant counted this book as one of the most inspiring things he ever read and it changed how he approached the game of basketball.
With these things in mind, let’s just call this piece a tribute to Michael and Kobe. May these great men rest in God’s astounding presence perpetually and our memories for always.
About the Story
If you have never read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, never fear because I’m going to absolutely spoil it for you. This short work of fiction is about a seagull named Jonathan who lives in a flock with many other seagulls.
One day Jonathan decides there is more to life than bickering for stale pieces of bread on the shore and simply surviving. Jonathan wants to fly, fly higher and faster than any seagull has ever flown.
He tries to introduce this foreign concept to his other flock mates, but is outcast for his lofty idea.
Jonathan is wounded at first, but in solitude he learns to fly at amazing speeds across the endless sky. He finds tasty fresh food for himself at new heights and even learns he can sleep soundly while in flight!
Jonathan dies a happy bird who has learned so very much, but soon discovers that there is even more knowledge to acquire.
Overtime, Jonathan learns from an elder in the afterlife that he is a prefect being with endless possibilities. Jonathan, or no other seagull for that matter, is limited to his body only his mind. He also learns that more essential than speed or perfection of flight is kindness and love.
Once Jonathan understands the concept of love, he desires to go back to earth. He has finally forgiven his old flock and now knows that his way of issuing love is by instructing others with his own knowledge.
With the new skill of traveling through space and time, Jonathan goes back to earth. On earth Jonathan helps change the mind set of many seagull and passes his legacy down to a very special student.
What Jonathan Livingston Seagull Means to Us
Since Kobe Bryant’s death, I have re-read Jonathan Livingston Seagull in memory of the inspirational man. On my recent read, I gleamed a lesson I never really considered before.
As humans we are so concerned by our basic needs, our next meal, and general survival, that we never actually test our truest potential.
The Bible states that we are literally ruled by our stomachs(Philippians 3:19) and in that sense we miss out on all the things we were truly created to become.
Many of us live our lives much like Jonathan’s flock- bickering, complaining, existing, and fighting for the same stale bread until we die.
How different would our lives be if we stepped away from appeasing our senses and step into the utter perfection of our potential?
While all the other birds squandered their energy on the ground awaiting crumbs and fighting for power, Jonathan was hundreds of feet in the air learning the real joy of living.
I believe like Jonathan, we owe it to ourselves to test out our full potential, while also loving others in a way that overlooks faults.
The key Jonathan found to loving the flock that exiled him, was seeing them as the flawless unblemished beings they were created to be. What if we too looked at humanity as beings created in the image of a perfect God and loved that part of them too?
I’m not going to draw this piece out as long as I could, I’m only going to leave you with this quote from Jonathan Livingston Seagull for your consideration:
You’ve got to understand that a seagull in an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull, and your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip is nothing more than your thought itself.