Some of you might have read this book while you were in intermediate school but it wasn’t on the reading list at Kaukapakapa Primary so I was very grateful when a friend recently shared this exquisite book with me. This is my first book review for my blog and given that the name of my blog was found within the pages of this book it seems appropriate for it to be the first book that I shared with you.
“Who is more responsible than a gull who finds and follows a meaning, a higher purpose for life? For a thousand years we have scrabbled after fish heads, but now we have a reason to live – to learn, to discover, to be free! Give me one chance, let me show you what I’ve found…”
Jonathan Livingston Seagull is the story of a seagull who knew there was more to living than fighting for scraps from the fishing boats and following other gulls rules. He was a gull who made his own rules and found freedom through the power and perfection of flight.
What started out as a pleasant read about the story of a seagull expanded into an exploration into how the themes of this book applied to my life:
- Freedom to live the way that you want and not be turned from that path by the views of others. Jonathan was made an outcast from the flock because of his actions but he was not sorry for the price that he had paid. I’ve found that taking a different path in life is not always easy but the feeling that you are living by your values is hard to beat.
“We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn how to fly!”
- Choices – Jonathan was given the choice to live as he and his kind had always lived or to soar to new heights. I could have chosen to allow fear and indecision to hold me back and continue with a career in corporate law; instead I choose to step forward and learn from my mistakes as I went. It’s important to remember that no matter what we think our circumstances are, there are always choices.
“In order to become empowered, to become the co-creator in our lives, and to stop giving power to the belief that we are the victim, it is absolutely necessary to own that we have choices” Robert Burney
- Limiting self beliefs – typically these have been with you for a long time. It is essential to ask, or be asked, the right questions to be able to discover the truth about how much you are putting up with in your life, because you may be so accustomed to your limiting beliefs that they have become standard. Once those limiting beliefs have been unearthed you then need to find evidence to dispute those beliefs – expose then explode has become my way of thinking.
John Hagelin said “If history is any guide, much of what we take for granted simply isn’t true.”
I mean we used to think that the earth was flat! What else are we taking for granted?
- Awareness – in order to learn and grow we need to be aware of our thoughts so that we can realise how those thoughts are empowering or limiting us. Once you become aware of your thoughts then you can start to manage them and also manage what your focus is. I’ve found that developing self awareness is a process rather than an event and the more that I practise the more self control I develop.
- Never stop learning – I love to spend time with my nieces because they are insatiably curious about everything around them. They question everything. At some stage when we are growing up we stop asking questions and feel that we should already know the answer before we ask the question. Assumptions creep in and our learning is significantly diminished. We start to make excuses that we don’t have time and somehow we become ashamed of what we don’t know. I’m working on rediscovering that blazing drive to learn again.
- Keep working on love – Jonathan is told by his teacher that the most difficult, the powerful and the most fun of all is to know the meaning of kindness and of love. Jonathan’s “way of demonstrating love was to give something of the truth that he had seen to a gull who asked only a chance to see truth for himself.” When was the last time that you worked on love?
The story has allowed me to continue my learning and journey of self discovery in a new way. The book may have that effect on you; then again maybe it’s just a story about a bird…