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Review of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a fun book that causes you to pause and think, and the good thing about it is you can read it in less than an hour. You can also read it to your children; they’ll love the images.

This book is about Jonathan Livingston Seagull, one of many seagulls from the Breakfast Flock colony. The gulls dodged and fought for food off fishing boats, except for Jonathan Livingston, who would practice soaring into the sky, doing various maneuvers not intended for gulls. Jonathan would soar and then glide. Though he stalled and fell many times, he picked himself up and practiced some more. He learned from his mistakes and kept on “course correcting.”

Bach writes, “For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight. More than anything, Jonathan Livingston Seagull loved to fly.” Jonathan’s attitude made him unpopular, even his parents were disappointed in him, but that didn’t deter him. Jonathan refused to conform. “His mother asked. “Why is it so hard to be like the rest of the flock, Jon? Why can’t you leave low flying to the pelicans, the albatross? Why don’t you eat? Son, you’re bone and feathers.”

“I don’t mind being bone and feathers, mom. I just want to know what I can do in the air and what I can’t, that’s all. I just want to know.”

Though Jonathan failed many times, got discouraged and tried to conform, the passion, fire in his belly, and the drive to be better, forced him to try harder. Being a very introspective gull, he would deconstruct to determine what he did and make improvements. One day he went too far, so thought the Council Gathering who summoned him to “Stand to Center for Shame.” Jonathan was banished from the colony.

All alone he kept on learning, “What he had 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 reason that a gull’s life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.”

Five Great Ideas

  1. You are perfect and unlimited
  2. Never stop learning and practicing and striving to understand more of the perfect invincible principle of all life
  3. Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body too
  4. You have to practice and see the real person, the good in every one, and to help them see it in themselves. That’s love. It’s fun, when you get the knack of it
  5. Look with understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly

I recommend Jonathan Livingston Seagull because of its simplicity and timeless lessons. There is a Jonathan Livingston Seagull inside each of us, let’s release him today!


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