Of Flips, Flaps and Soaring High

He was there almost every morning, perched on top of the roof adjacent to my kitchen’s window, during the year I lived in the United Kingdom. My friend hated him and even his entire clan. She called them cunning, notorious thieves. She was indeed right. They were the best in stealing food. Yet I took a special liking towards him because he reminded me of someone I had known from a book. A beautiful handwritten note on the cover page of the book says “A journey towards a dream is always an enchanting experience. So here is a book for you, to be a companion in all the endeavors of your life”.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull was a parting gift from a dear friend with that lovely note when I was moving to a new city trying to find a new purpose. I sure did take his note quite literally and since then this book had been a companion to me. Every time I moved places or travelled far, I diligently packed the book along with all cherished items. The compactness of the book with less than 100 pages could be one more reason I could manage to do it.  This is also one of the very few books that saved me from the guilt and embarrassment of having ungratefully shelved a well-chosen gift for years together.

Richard Bach’s debut, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a very humble parable. It speaks about a seagull who wants to fly which is against the convention of seagulls. For some it might stop at that. And for others it might go on to become one hell of a story.  For some it has a few titbits about the dynamics of flight and the thrills of it. And for others there are some interesting photographs from Russell Munson.

You might want to ask me if I think it’s a great book since I have been carrying it with me all along. I am not sure if I can answer that question for you. But I can tell you that the book is a timeless fable. First published in 1970, the book still is relevant in the modern times and it will be relevant for ages to come.  I really do not need to read again to know what it says. But there are times I just flip through the pages like a habit and the rest of the day would be spent pondering over the bigger purpose of life. I have no inspiring lines to quote from the book. Yet the book has always been a reminder to me of forgotten dreams and what I should be aspiring for.

This is one book where its readers are split distinctly into two kinds- the ones that absolutely loved it and the others who think it is sheer non-sense. As for me, I belong to the first kind. So I cannot promise you that you will love the book, but I would still recommend it to you. If you happen to not like the book, then I would suggest you to shelve it for posterity, because I think this is one of those books that shall speak to you more when the moment is ripe.


Photograph by Ambikesh Kumar Jha

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