Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach

“The gull sees farthest that flies highest.”

“Beyond a few hundred feet,
I can lift this old body no higher.
But you can, Jonathan.  For you have learned.
One school has finished and the time has come for another to begin.”


I had read this book as a teenager, my speech therapist had given it to me. It is quite short and simple story. But every time I read it, I found new meaning, better understanding.

The story is about Jonathan Livingston Seagull, an ordinary seagull who is more interested to know about flying then just eating fish. Soon his parents grow worried that why he can’t be like other in the Flock, leaving low flying to albatross. Jonathan tries to be like other gulls but soon he is back experimenting different kinds of flying. But after many efforts he fails in flying efficiently and eventually decides to quit and join the Flock, that would make everyone happier, thinks Jonathan. While returning to the Flock, he discovers how to fly like falcon and is able to set the highest speed limit in the history of seagulls. He decides to share the discovery with the Flock, and they will be wild with joys, he thinks. Immediately, Jonathan is summoned by the Council and Jonathan declared outcast for irresponsible behaviour.

Jonathan lives alone beyond Far Cliff and learns more everyday. One day he is joined by two seagulls, bright and white as starlight, who have come to take him higher, to take him to home.

So this is heaven, thinks Jonathan, when he arrives with them and finds his feather glowed brightly and wings were smooth. He finds that there are still many things to learn and he learns quickly with the help of Chiang, the Elder seagull. In time he starts teaching new seagulls coming in, but he gives thought about his Flock on the earth where some gulls who would also be able to learn and decides to return to the Flock.

When he returns he finds young Fletcher Lynd Seagull, an outcast for he too wants to learn fly higher. Jonathan gathers more student one by one who were ready to face the fury of the Flock but eager to learn fly higher. Soon the flock calls Jonathan as the Son of the Great Gull for his unbelievable abilities to fly. Then Jonathan tells Fletcher that he is now leaving as there may be other flocks and other Fletchers waiting for instructions and lastly Jonathan asks Fletcher, that no rumors about him is spread or make him a god.

Once you start reading you understand that the story can be, or is, related to human beings. We mostly live for the sake of living and do not seek the purpose of life and do not travels beyond ordinary and remains ordinary.

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