A story about a bird–and a seagull no less–go figure. However, this book about a Seagull by Richard Bach is on my “Top 10” favorites reading list. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is an allegory about serving others with love and kindness!
I don’t know how many times I have read it, but it has to be more than a dozen times. I first read it in my junior year at Spanish Fork High School.
My ten favorite quotes from Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, (1973) are:
Quotes cited from “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” follow this format: (Page Number)
Boredom and Fear and Anger
1. 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 thoughts, he lived a long fine life indeed. ∼ Richard Bach–Author (43)
Comment: There are numerous scientific studies, which I won’t cite here, that show stress reduces one’s lifespan and quality of life. Boredom, fear, and anger are stress producers as I have experienced first-hand in my life. I have found that you can minimize or eliminate these behaviors by actively practicing love, kindness, and forgiveness. Also, it helps to get involved in volunteer service.
Fear of Learning
2. “… You have less fear of learning than any gull I’ve seen in ten thousand years.” ∼ Sullivan (82)
Comment: Fear inhibits us from achieving so many things that we would like to experience and accomplish in life. In that light, fear is a bad thing. However, fear can be an excellent stimulus. Like everything else in life, we need to confront, understand, manage, and use it with discretion. Make fear your friend… because if it is not friend, it is a formidable enemy indeed.
Meaning of Kindness and Love
3. “And then you will be ready to begin the most difficult, the most powerful, and the most fun of all. You will be ready to begin to fly up and know the meaning of kindness and of love.” ∼ Chiang (83)
Comment: Having been on this journey myself for a while now, that of learning to practice love and kindness consistently, I have experienced that it is the most difficult, the most powerful, and the most fun of all the journeys I’ve traveled! After traveling all the roads in life, the only one left in the end is love. I have found that it is the greatest journey of all!
Keep Working on Love
4. “Jonathan,” he said, and these were the last words that he spoke, “keep working on love.” ∼ Chiang (84)
Comment: It is this idea and challenge, to practice love and kindness, which makes my life worthwhile and motivates me to get up each day and live each moment, in the present, with gratitude in my heart. To me, real love is having a sincere desire for others to possess peace, health, and happiness, even more than one might have for oneself–without regard to one’s needs or wants. Also, it includes the willingness to serve others, with sacrifice, in that capacity and to that end irrespective of how “others” may treat you. To sacrifice treasure, time, comfort, and inconvenience. Furthermore, one should expect nothing in return. Pure love is a difficult concept to initiate and practice consistently; but, one that is necessary to achieve a “fullness” of one’s potential. Love is the greatest force in the universe!
5. As the days went past, Jonathan found himself thinking time and again of the Earth from which he had come. If he had known there just a tenth, just a hundredth, of what he knew here, how much more life would have meant! ∼ Richard Bach–Author (84)
Comment: I find myself pondering this same sentiment almost daily… if I had only known this when I was younger… the importance of practicing love and kindness on a daily basis.
6. “Don’t be harsh on them, Fletcher Seagull. In casting you out, the other gulls have only hurt themselves, and one day they will know this, and one day they will see what you see. Forgive them, and help them to understand.” ∼ Jonathan (89)
Comment: This is an excellent example of true love coupled with forgiveness.
7. “Everything that limits us we have to put aside.” ∼ Jonathan (103)
Comment: Whether it’s small things or big things, if they impede us from reaching our goals, we have to get rid of them; including certain people. However, this practice is easier said than done. To put certain things or people aside, that stand in the way of us reaching our goals takes a lot of self-discipline and resolve; it is made easier with prayer and help from above.
8. It took almost an hour for the Word of the Elder to pass through the Flock: Ignore them. The gull who speaks to an Outcast is himself Outcast. The gull who looks upon an Outcast breaks the Law of the Flock. ∼ Elder Gull (107)
Comment: I observe and experience this sentiment frequently with the excessive political correctness run-a-muck in our present-day society… and is almost always practiced by, excuse the phrase, “simple-minded asses,” in my humble opinion.
The Knack of Love
9. “I don’t understand how you manage to love a mob of birds that has just tried to kill you. Oh, Fletch, you don’t love that! You don’t love hatred and evil, of course. You have to practice and see the real gull, the good in every one of them, and to help them see it in themselves. That’s what I mean by love. It’s fun when you get the knack of it. I remember a fierce young bird, for instance, Fletcher Lynd Seagull, his name. Just been made Outcast, ready to fight the Flock to the death, getting a start on building his own bitter hell out on the Far Cliffs. And here he is today building his own heaven instead, and leading the whole Flock in that direction.” ∼ Jonathan (123, 124)
Comment: “It’s fun when you get the knack of it”? I hope I can one day get the knack of it! I understand this concept and have seen my father exercise it. However, it is difficult for me to practice consistently.
10. And though he tried to look properly severe for his students, Fletcher Seagull suddenly saw them all as they really were, just for a moment, and he more than liked, he loved what he saw. “No limits, Jonathan?” he thought, and he smiled. His race to learn had begun. ∼ Fletcher (126, 127)
Comment: I have this feeling as I face a new class of 5th graders at the beginning of each school year. This feeling Fletcher felt, with the new students, is one I can readily relate to.
Images – Post image: “Goeland brun / Lesser Black-backed Gull” by Jean-Jacques Boujot is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Web 16 February 2014.
Quotes – Bach, R. (1973). Jonathan Livingston Seagull. New York City, New York: The Macmillan Company.