I want to continue about reading today. As I argued yesterday in Are you reading?, reading gives you learning based on someone else’s experiences. Sometimes the learning can be so profound that it could completely change your outlook, even philosophy of life. Today I am writing about one such book that really formed my philosophy of life.
I don’t remember how I came across Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. As far as I remember, it was sometime in 1982. It’s a surprisingly small book, just about 85 pages. Of this about half the pages are black and white pictures of seagulls. I finished reading the book in about an hour. When I completed the book, I realized that I had come across something very very special, but didn’t fully understand what it was. So I went to the beginning of the book and reread it immediately.
It is a fable about a seagull named Jonathan Livingston.
Jonathan Livingston is a very different type of seagull. Most other seagulls fly as a means to get their food, Jonathan flies because he loves to fly! And he continues to fly to achieve perfection in his flight, without a thought for food.
Jonathan’s parents and the flock keeps telling him that it’s not what seagulls are expected to do. They tell him, “If a seagull was meant to fly, god would have given him wings like a falcon”. Jonathan doesn’t budge and almost courts death in one of his attempts to dive to the sea.
After that experience, he is about to give up his dream and about to be a normal gull, when he remembers the the words wings of a falcon. Remembering the words, he pulls his wings in and makes them like the short wings of a falcon, and succeeds in the dive that he was attempting. As he succeeds, he also discovers that the dive takes him under the water briefly, where he can catch fish for food.
So Jonathan not only flies because he loves flying, but also gets food as a by-product!
Initially, Jonathan is an outcast, no one likes him. But as others in the flock watch him, he starts getting a few rebellious followers.
Jonathan continues to learn flying and finds teachers when he needs to have them, and becomes a perfect flyer.
For a 22 year young & impressionable me, that was an awesome message. That message made the base of my life’s philosophy.
Since then, I have always done what I loved doing, and tried to work towards excellence. Teachers came forward when I needed them. Learning was the biggest reward. It hasn’t been a path lined by roses, but by god’s grace, I have never had to worry about my survival.
This summary is just that, a summary. I would urge all my readers to read the book in original.
I am sure you have also read such inspiring books. Please share.