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Book Recommendation #2: Jonathan Livingston Seagull

All of us have wondered, at some point in life, if we really are living our lives to our fullest potential?

And, that are we really experiencing all that we are capable of experiencing?

This week has been a week of such conversations for me.

It reminded me of one of those books that has had a profound impact on me. I came across this book more than 15 years ago via an interview I read of Harsha Bhogle to recommended this book strongly.

Since then it has shaped me and my being. I have gifted this book to at least 20 people. And still look for opportunities to gift it to, whoever needs it.

Summary and Excerpts paraphrased:

Jonathan Livingston Seagull beautifully showcases the journey of a Seagull named Jonathan who is determined to take the road less traveled by and push his boundaries. 

Seagulls by nature don't fly high. They are focused on just the simplest facts of flight — how to get from shore to food and back again. 
To them, it was not the flying that mattered but eating for survival. 

But to our hero, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, what mattered was to explore the 'there is more to life than this' part of living. Flights. From heights never explored.

He spent days alone, making scores of low-level glides, trying new techniques, failing and injuring himself. He tasted plenty of unsuccessful attempts, gets banished and outcast from the flock.

Everyday he was told: “Don’t forget, the reason you fly is to eat.”, “Be like rest of the flock Jonathan”, “To leave flying to the pelicans, the albatross. Just focus on eating.”

And as it happens, after so many failed attempts a voice within him spoke: “There is no way around it. I am a seagull. I am limited by my nature. If I were meant to learn so much about flying. I’d have charts for brains. If I were meant to learn so much at speed, I’d have a falcon’s short wings, and live on mice instead of fish.”

Dejected he even joins back the flock again, and living the simple Seagull life. 

However, his sense of purpose was so strong that these thoughts were short-lived. He goes back to exploring the realms of his abilities and trying to go beyond the accepted potential.

He kept taking high flights. Learning. Facing failures. Attaining newer heights. Fulfilled. Then came one day when he met two other Seagulls. To his surprise both the gulls enjoyed flying as well and were outcasts. They already knew things that Jonathan was attempting to learn. They took Jonathan under their wing. “We’ve come to take you higher, to take you home”.

He says “Home I have none, flock I have none. And we fly now at the peak of Great Mountain Wind. Beyond a few 100 feet, I can lift this old body no higher”

“But you can Jonathan.” 

What follows next his how de did it. He followed his love and passion for flight. And how he takes the curious and adventurous new seagulls under his wings and helps them follow their passion. Helping them push their boundaries with the belief that they can.

This book will always remain in my bookshelf and I keep going back to it after every few years when I'm clouded and low.

The conclusion just screams at me with all energy: If you want to do something really, really, really badly, nothing can stop you.

If you need a copy of this book, just ping me "I can". I will send you your copy. I promise. Fastest 5 to receive their copy.

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1 Comment

Manjusha Nair
Manjusha Nair
Oct 10, 2021

I read this one ages ago and it still lives on my book shelf. Every time I pick it up and open any page, I get something that lifts me up. Though my favourite by Bach is The bridge across forever. Love that book :)

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