Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Author: Richard Bach

Published: 1970

Richard Bach highlights the theme of self-discovery in his book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. A story about a seagull from the Breakfast Flock Colony who was quite different from the rest of his flock. While they all dodged and fought for scraps of food, Jonathan, was far more intrigued by his wings and what could he do with them.

All his life he had been told that his wings were meant to help them fly and fight for food. But Jonathan was an inquisitive creature, which set him apart from his family, peers and friends. He wanted to test his limits, how fast could he fly, how high could he go, what motions could he manoeuvre mid-flight.

And every day, instead of sticking with his flock, he did what he felt was right. In the eyes of the others however, he was seen as an outcast, a non-conforming individual.

Richard Bach is able to describe what any people go through in their life by his depiction of Jonathan’s dilemma, either stick to what is known as the “seagull way” (the norms) or follow what one feels is true for themselves.

Once Jonathan is banished from the flock for breaking rules and not abiding to the ways of living accepted by his society. He takes on his own path and goes on to achieve what no gull had before. He worked day and night in attempts to achieve the perfect flight. Until one fine day, when through his beliefs he transcended this reality and reached a place beyond his imagination, amongst other gulls who had also gone off the well-worn path. He found gulls who had thought like him before.

Due to Jonathan’s inquisitive nature, and willingness to open his mind further. And understand that limits exists only in his mind and that he can actually do whatever he wants with the age-old secret of practice, Jonathan went on to attain what not many seagulls ever had. And with that, came a stage where Jonathan decided that he had to spread his knowledge. Share his secrets and knowledge with other gulls who were on this path of self-discovery.

Through that, Jonathan became a guru, a teacher to a few other gulls who were banished. And there is where his journey of shattering the limits other gulls perceived began. Richard Bach is able to call out to every living Jonathan out there with this book. Helping them understand that, in fact, you are unstoppable, you are free, you can fly, you can break any limits set before you, and you can grow.

His simple language keeps the reader glued to the book at all times, and the atmosphere that he creates is what sets the tone right from the start. His message, even 49 years later, stands clear. You are infinite and you are unique. You are free and you are limitless, and whatever limits you, you have to put aside.

All in all, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a book for the ages, with a message that stands tall even in today’s world. A book that every person should read at least once, and come back to even more.

“To the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all.”

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