As critic-Ernest Gann said, “This book is a valuable citizen in the very wondrous world ruled by St. Exupery’s Little Prince.” The author, Richard Bach, like St. Exupery, is a pilot, making the flight patterns of a seagull a very natural milieu in which to create a allegorical fable full of life’s lessons. Jonathan Livingston Seagull (“JLS”), published in 1973, tells the story of a seagull who had a blazing desire to fly, who taught himself to fly further, faster, and longer than any other gull, and even to sleep in the air. It is a wonderful book to read to or with your children.
Jonathan was ostracized from his flock for being so different. Unrepentant, he continued on his unique course, ever improving his skills. He discovered fish and delicate insects that no other gull had ever found, becoming a helpful pioneer for his peers. In the process, he eliminated fear, boredom and anger from his life; and he grew to love his fellow-gulls despite their intolerance and errant judgment. He learned that the most important thing is to reach out and touch perfection in the thing that you do and that there is more to life than to live for the moment. The work that it takes to master your craft is its own reward. “Heaven”, he found, is not a place or a time but is, rather, being the best that you can be at what you do. He rejected “faith”, as faith didn’t teach him what he taught himself. He learned that he was more than bone and feather, but, rather, a perfect idea of flight that was limited by nothing at all. His whole body, he concluded, was nothing more than thought itself.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull was the consummate individual; he rejected the limitations that others attempted to place upon him; he remained dedicated to his positive goals; he set new records at what he did; the fruits of his efforts helped his fellow-gulls, and, in the end, he vaporized and became his essence: the thoughts that were the real Jonathan.
This lovely, allegorical fable continues to sell in bookstores everywhere.