Sunday, February 26, 2006

Finding a 'Jonathan' within us

It took about an hour to read through those 127 pages of that book. The reading was a bit of it and the thinking which followed after that was more of it.

This is about a book which is universally considered as a best-seller classic. I’m not going to review or walk you though the book. All I’m doing here is just talk about this book ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ by Richard Bach.

For starters, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a book ‘authored’ by Richard Bach in 1970.It is a fable about a seagull by name 'Jonathan Livingston' whose passion is to fly higher and who believe that there is something more than ‘just’ living. It is a fable, where this seagull braves the outcasting, age-old conventions-beliefs, & finally shows that there is a world to be explored, beyond what is seen/believed to be.

What appears to be this simple fable about a seagull soon captured imagination and within two years of its publication, over a million copies were sold. Even a movie with the same name was made. Isn’t it amazing that the book written in 70 has its latest reprint in 2005-06.

Still wondering why I’m talking about a 70s book?

What fascinates me is the way the underlying metaphor of the book changes every time the book is read. The thoughts in the book irrespective of time, still remain relevant. May be next time I read the book ,I may see the underlying things in a new light.

In the story, there are ‘seagull flock on the earth’ and ’flock in some other world’, which denotes two different schools of thoughts. The 'seagull flock on earth' believes that their main objective in life is to get the food. But 'other' group thinks differently. For the 'other' group, it is not just about to live to get the food, it is about to discover the potential within, to fly to the heights where no other seagulls fly.Jonathan Livingston belongs to this second group.

Why did it strike cords with millions of people?

I think at some point of time everyone would have felt like Jonathan. But may be not everyone who had such thougths but didn’t venture as Jonathan did.

Isn’t Jonathan denotes all those who stand-out from the crowd? Isn’t Jonathan’s story is about people who had the guts to believe that they are meant for something more than mundane things and about people who showed that new heights can be reached through belief, inspiration and practice?

Now something other than the metaphorical meanings, there is a story about the origin of this book. This is what Richard Bach said in an interview

“It was the weirdest experience of my life, I was walking along one night, worrying about the rent money, when I heard this voice say, 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull.' But no one was there. I had absolutely no idea what it meant. When I got home, I suddenly had a vision of a seagull flying along, and I began to write. The story certainly didn't spring from any conscious invention on my part. I just put down what I saw."

May be these sound bytes sound debatable and fuzzy, but there is even more interesting trivia about why the name ‘Jonathan Livingston' for the seagull’s character was chosen.

It is believed that this book is inspired by a real person by name ‘John H Livingston’. John Livingston was one of top US pilots during 1920-30. He was into barnstorming which was a form of ‘flying circus’ where every known stunts like spinning, diving, rolling and every possible maneuver with the plane were performed. It seems Richard Bach, a ‘reserve’ pilot himself, got inspired by John Livingston’s dare devil life.

That was something about the book, thoughts,origin & names. If you haven’t read the book yet, I think you should give it a try.

Signing off with my favorite line in the book which is in the dedication page !!

“To the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all”

Jonathan Seagull within us?? Think of it!


Hiren said...

Your post reminds me of the saying,"Man cannot live by bread alone". It is strange that while man has taken great strides in science and technology, relatively nothing is known about the inner potential of man and some people languish for a lifetime in the wrong profession-you may want to take a look at Make your passion your profession. When the basics are not right, how can they explore further?

the Monk said...

yeah, that is quite a book...

Deepa said...

i love that book. esp remember the line where he says heaven is about being perfect...or some such thing, i forget the exact words.
try his books 'illusions' and 'a bridge across forever' grest ones.
evr tried reading Paulo Coelho?

Shiv said...

I have read Alchemist by Paulo..
Thatz quite a has lots of metaphors in it..

Other than Alchemist, I haven't read any other books