One Little Bird Named Jonathan: An Homage

Post written by Monica Gaylor.

“Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.”

“I gave my life to become the person I am right now.  Was it worth it?”

Quotes by Richard Bach

In my last post, Staying on the Path, I discussed my love of reading stories or parables that teach a lesson.  My favorites are lessons that involve finding the “way” or one’s own authenticity.  They usually tend to have a bit of a spiritual or philosophical twist to them.

The most profound and inspiring book of my life has been and continues to be Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach.

This post will pay homage to that wonderful work of art that has inspired me anew again and again.  I recommend you read Jonathan Livingston Seagull in its entirety for a first hand account of its authentic message and in order to find your own meaning or truth.

Following are quotes from Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  With great difficulty and restraint, I have elected not to add my suppositions or conclusions simply so that you can make your own.  Enjoy.

Short synopsis:  Jonathan is a little bird who loves to fly.  It is his passion.  But, following your passion, or thinking for yourself, is looked down upon in the Flock.

  • “Jonathan Seagull spent the rest of his days alone, but he flew way out beyond the Far Cliffs.  His one sorrow was not solitude, it was that other gulls refused to believe the glory of flight that awaited them; they refused to open their eyes and see.”
  • “What he had once hoped for the Flock, he now gained for himself alone; he learned to fly, and was not sorry for the price that he had paid.  Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.”
  • “Home I have none.  Flock I have none.  I am Outcast.  And we fly now at the peak of the Great Mountain Wind.  Beyond a few hundred feet, I can lift this old body no higher.”  “But you can, Jonathan.  For you have learned.  One school is finished, and the time has come for another to begin.”  As it had shined across him all his life, so understanding lighted that moment for Jonathan Seagull.  They were right.  He could fly higher, and it was time to go home.  He gave one last look across that sky, across that magnificent silver land where he had learned so much.  “I’m ready,” he said at last.”
  • “In the days that followed, Jonathan saw that there was as much to learn about flight in this place as there had been in the life behind him.  But with a difference.  Here were gulls who thought as he thought.  For each of them, the most important thing in living was to reach out and touch perfection in that which they most loved to do, and that was to fly.”
  • “The trick, according to Chiang, was for Jonathan to stop seeing himself as trapped inside a limited body that had a forty-two-inch wingspan and performance that could be plotted on a chart.  The trick was to know that his true nature lived, as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere at once across space and time.”
  • “Everything that limits us we have to put aside.”
  • “He spoke of very simple things – that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.”
  • “You need to keep finding yourself, a little more each day, that real, unlimited Fletcher Seagull.  He’s your instructor.  You need to understand him and to practice him.”
  • “I am a seagull.  I like to fly,…”
  • “Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you.  All they show is limitation.  Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.”

Thank you Richard Bach for your powerful words – they have lighted the way in my dark times.