The story of the seagull Jonathan Livingston is one that has accompanied me throughout many stages of my life and as I start reading it now to my kids, I paused to feel what appeals to me in this tale as simple as it is.
What I love about this book is that it seems to be a parable for different stages of my life and maybe that’s why it always speaks to me. In part 1, Jonathan Livingston, the young seagull pushes the limits of flying fast and diving perilously so that he forgets about eating and behaving like a “normal seagull” who eats fallen fish and waste from the fishing boats. The day when he fully masters his flight, he is excluded from the flock for “abnormal behavior”. Alone, he lives a blissful life exploring new territory and finding new food sources thanks to his skills.
This deeply resonates with me. How many times did a move feel daring, outside of the rules – a step into the unknown? How many times did I feel that I don’t quite belong where I am? How much courage did it take to move away from the known, from a safe and comfortable place?
The story of Jonathan Livingston always reminds me that there’s no new finding without letting go of some of the old. It reminds me to take stock of all I have gained by leaving some beliefs or structures behind.
“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.”
Jonathan reminds me to look at my life in gratitude, to question habits that don’t quite feel right and to leave or change the structures that seem to cripple my yearnings.
As a practice, spend some time with yourself (maybe 20 minutes) and walk backwards through your life up to now. What was a moment when you felt you had a breakthrough, an insight, an encounter that seemed shaping a period of your life? What was moment when you felt alone, isolated or in the wrong place? In what way did that impact the course you took?
Maybe you got curious? I’ll definitely be exploring Jonathan Livingston with my kids and see what it tells them. And I’ll be writing more about the rest of the tale (and maybe my kids’ philosophy here).
Is it hard to find time for reading? Here’s my hack to find some time for reading: http://miriamthecoach.com/2017/03/31/reading-books/