My home town
My first seagull was Johnathan Livingston Seagull. He really is a book by Richard Bach and my copy is from 1970 and is barely holding together. So I have read it, over and over. Johnathan is a seagull who doesn’t always fit in with the flock. He also questions things and he thinks.
Here in America, we have been victims of a dumbing down of the masses. We are not supposed to think or question what the government or society is doing. We are to believe what we are told. This concept never sat well with me. I am the kind of person who, to this day, likes to question, contemplate and find out the ‘real” truth.
Johnathan was a part of his flock and sailed on the wind currents as he had been taught to do. He and his friends would soar and play and life was good, except that he wondered if there might not be something more to life. He made the decision to see is he could fly higher than what the flock usually flew. So he made the decision to start off as usual but to attempt to fly higher and higher. He had separated from the rest of the flock and decided to try to fly higher in the moonlight. He flew to a thousand feet at full power and went into a vertical dive straight down. It wasn’t perfect the first time and he had to put in a lot of hard work and use all of his strength. He would soar downward at seventy miles an hour and end up soaking wet in the ocean. He continued to climb higher and higher and to descend faster. Then he crashed and was unconsciousness.
He had hit the water at ninety miles an hour. When he awoke he was floating on the surface of the ocean. As he floated he heard an inner voice that told him he was a limited seagull. If he had been meant to fly higher and faster, he wouldn’t be a mere seagull. He heard a voice telling him to go back to the flock and make himself fit in and stop trying to be better.
As he took off, he went to five thousand feet and he forgot his vow to himself to go back to the flock. He practiced non-stop until later in the day and he had developed his style and he was proud he had conquered his fear.
The Gull Council called for a meeting and Johnathan was called to the middle of the Council to face charges and he realized someone must have seen him practicing this morning. He was told to stand in the center for Shame. He was devastated and he was told that he was facing charges of irresponsibility and violating the dignity and tradition of the Gull family.
He improved himself and could teach the others, but his defense fell on deaf and judgmental ears. How often in life, does someone have a dream, and works, sacrifices and accomplishes his/her dream. They fight family and society and friends but make themselves and the world better.
Johnathan sadly accepted his punishment. He was Outcast. He went out a ways gliding just as a seagull is supposed to do. He was then joined by two gulls and he began to fly level and then to fly higher. They kept up with him and he asks them who they were. He was told, ” You have learned. One school is finished, and the time has come for another to begin.”
Johnathan looked around and said, ” I’m ready.” Johnathan rose with the other two gulls and flew up into a dark sky. Johnathan found himself in heaven and his outward glowing with light just like his companions.
When he asked about Heaven they told him, “Heaven was not a place, or a time. It is being perfect.” “You will begin to touch heaven, Johnathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed.” They further explained that flying at a certain speed was a limit. They told him that perfect speed was just being there. Being there.
What a wonderful thought for me. A woman who never was satisfied with what I was told to think and to feel. So many times my questions and realizations that events or considerations made no logical sense. There were times I thought that if I heard, ‘Just do as I say,” I would scream and I knew I would never stop. So I tried to live my life as fully as I could. I worked to make a better place and chose not to live my life according to “the rules.” I could do more and learn more and I , like Johnathan, could soar. Has it been easy? No, it hasn’t. But the inner voice of Divinity guided me every time and no, I didn’t always listen but as I grew in maturity and inner strength, I almost always do now.
“Each of us is in truth an idea of the Great Gull, and unlimited idea of freedom.”
This sentence made me realize that we are all meant to be free. We are to be free and soar to meet with Divinity and to become all that we were meant to be. With Divinity inside, nothing can stop us but ourselves. I am not talking about doing unethical or immoral things, but the things that help us to become more and live fuller than most people can even conceive of. Johnathan was told he was a thousand years ahead of his time. This is okay. We will bring the rest of humanity kicking and screaming behind us and the world will have a jump in consciousness. Perhaps, one day we can bring everyone to a life of freedom, forgiveness, joy, compassion and love for all of our fellow sentient beings.
So I share my favorite seagull whenever I can and now I share him with you. I hope you will find him as inspiring as I did.
Seagull at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Photo by Barbara Mattio
- Soaring seagull over Lake Erie Photo by Barbara Mattio