Sunday, December 18, 2011

Finding Your Wings

A seagull is born with wings, but they do not always see them. A seagull often is clouded by what is around them, and they forget that they are born with great possibilities. They see the chaos around them and are asked to join in. So, they scrabble for food and this is all they've ever known. The wings which were placed on them to grant them heavenly flight becomes nothing more than a helpful tool to get to food. Seagulls forget that they can reach for the stars.

Yet, inside of them I believe every seagull knows that they are meant for more. I think from hatching to death, they can feel the power in their feathers. Not all acknowledge it. Some become to blinded with what they see about them. But some test their limits. Some find the courage to stretch out from what they've known and do what every seagull knows is right.

But it is the blinded gulls I send this message: You can still find your wings. Certainly it will not be easy. The world you know is one way. Changing that may seem impossible. Changing yourself may seem imposable. But you were born with two wings and a strong heart. You were born to fly passed your limits and seek the beauty on knowledge. You were given life and wings and you need nothing else but strength. I believe that you can find your strength, and I believe that every seagull can reach beyond themselves and find perfection.

I don't think there will ever be a time where every seagull can accept flying with ease. There will always be a few elders who curse at a change in the norm. But, I am also positive that there will be a group that know the truth without thinking, that have the courage to step up and take their lives into their own hands. I am sure that there will always be the strength to take to the sky and reach to perfection. It will not always be easy. But it will always be worth it.


The elders, as I expected, did not enjoy our meeting. They asked me to leave, and I declined. I announced to the Flock that I was Jonathan, a student and a teacher. I told them I had once been asked to squawk for food and live my life for the next scrap, but I had refused. I told them that there is magic in flight and in finding your limits and breaking passed them. I told them it is possible to achieve perfection if you believe. I told them they were more than hungry mindless creatures, and if they'd like, I would love to share the knowledge my experiences have left me.

Of course, many yelled for my departure and cursed my name. This is a natural occurrence when the realities you have lived with are questioned. If one was to tell me that flight was useless, I would surely get frustrated. However, their reactions were beyond frustration and this is because they know I am right. My words were convincing and they realized that they have been living their lives incorrectly, that their fathers and fathers' fathers and so on have all been living incorrectly. And this is a scary thing, indeed. So what else can they do but cry out and try to prove me wrong? To try to vanquish my voice and send me away until I convince them completely that their lives have been lived incorrectly.

Still, there for a few seagulls who I know found acceptance in this realization. A few stepped foreword and asked to join my students. I led them to where my students and I have claimed as nesting ground, and I began instruction immediately. We have set up a system of going back to the main Flock. Everyday we alternate a pair of gulls to fly back and repeat their own versions of my initial proposal. They ask their family and friends if they'd like to live their life as nothing but beggars, or if they'd like to join them with a higher purpose. Sometimes, the gulls go straight to the elders and ask for their approval. The elders remain steadfast, but every day more students fly from the Flock and to my lessons.

New Students

There is a beautiful feeling that spreads with the efforts of expanding your knowledge. Truly, nothing settles my worries as much as finding a new student and showing them how easily they can overcome their own obstacles.

Here, the gulls are much like my own Flock once was. The seagulls shun the small group who spend their time taking to the sky. They ignore them and mock them. Isolated, these young students have found one another and spend their time testing limits and stretching higher into the horizon than I ever did while still living beside the Flock.

I introduced myself. Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The name meant nothing to them, and this pleased me. I am a stranger in their land. This makes me unique, an outsider just like them. Therefore they did not hesitate to follow me up into the clouds and bend their wings with me. We flew together for hours before finding rest on the shore. They had a million questions, all of which I tried to answer.

"Who are you?"
"Where do you come from?"
Many places. Originally a Flock, just like yours.
"Where did you learn to fly like that?"
Many failed attempts have led me to where I am now. I practiced wherever I was able to call home. I tried and tried and tried.
"Can you teach us?"
I would do nothing else.

It feels wonderful to be teaching new students again. They are eager to learn and desperate for knowledge. I know their elders have spotted the lot of us gathering together and flying out to the sea. I know they don't approve of my presence, and so soon I will introduce myself to them. I am hopeful because I have a large group of students to begin with, and I feel their influence will be a great help in spreading the knowledge of flight to the others.

My favorite student right now is Rebecca Gull. She is strong willed and curious, and I feel she is the one that helped lead the others into their passions for flight. She shows remarkable strengths in her flying, and when the time comes for me to move on yet again, I will leave the responsibility of instructor to her.

Oh, it feels so great to share my joys with these young birds! There is nothing as breath taking as seeing a gull's eyes light up as you show him something he never imagined as possible. I think it is in days like today that my entire life finds meaning. I will stretch my wings out wide tonight and I will take to the sky with joy. Tomorrow I will introduce myself to the elders and offer lessons to anything seagull interested. I know there will not be many at first, but I also know that it is impossible to resist the love for flying that is bred into the heart of every bird. We are made to fly and to break limits. We are made to float, to dive, to soar. We are seagulls.


There is something heartbreaking about goodbyes. In all my time in the world, I have yet to grow completely accustomed to farewells. I have moved on many times, from Flock to Flock or even from life to life. I have met friends, lost friends and left friends. Still, goodbyes have become no easier or less devastating.

I remember my first farewell was to my Flock when I was sent to the Far Cliffs. They did not hear me, for they blocked their ears with ignorance, but I called out to them. I cried as I flew away, a broken parting in my tears. My second farewell was to the world, when the two white gulls led me up to the second world. There I met more friends, some of whom passed on and others whom I left when I returned to my Flock.

I said goodbye to Fletcher and my other students once I felt I'd taught them enough. It hurt then, but I knew one day I'd return. This time, as I said my farewell to Fletcher, I knew I'd never see the bird again. His wings are old, and I know soon he will pass over to the next life like I once did. Unlike myself, I feel he will remain in the second world and feel his body break limits the atmosphere here will not even allow. Since I still have no desire to return, it seems I may never see my favorite student again.

I must remember that farewells are just another part of life. You can't avoid them, and no matter how much they hurt they are often necessary. Fletcher and I have separate missions now, and maybe one day the Great Gull will allow our paths to intersect again. What's most important is I keep going foreword and keep spreading knowledge of life greater than fighting for food.

Fletcher, and life before.

When I found Fletcher, he asked me about my time at the Flock before I was banished to the Far Cliffs. This is what I told him, and I hope it can inspire any Gull out there struggling to find their own wings.

My family and friends were extremely annoyed by everything I did. I was a horrible food collector. I grew tired and bored whenever I had to fly over a ship and wait for scraps. I hated nosing around the little humans and squawk for food. It was all very tedious and humiliating. I am not a bird made for desperation. There are few animals who can take to the sky, so why did my Flock waste their time struggling for food? Were we not able to find our own instead of crying for others' scraps?

So, I escaped from the boring days with my wings. I could carry myself farther and farther away from their yelling. The sky was my safe place, and almost instantly I found it a hundred times more interesting than food wars. I immediately began to test my limits, and found myself thinking that a seagull was not built for real flight. Our long wings make flying fast awkward, and it's like it has been bred into our bones to avoid high altitudes. However, I felt like trying to break these limits was more eventful than anything my Flock was doing, so I spent my time doing that instead.

Of course, it wasn't easy. Many times I landed face first in the beach or half drowned in the water. But I loved it, no matter how battered, bruised, and hungry I became. My Flock never accepted this, though. Every night my mother yelled at me to get my priorities straight. My father begged me to stop making him look like a fool and do as I was told. It was not rare for the elders to speak with me and ask me to please stop trying to starve myself. Many of my friends turned their backs on me. I was an outcast before they sentenced me to the Far Cliffs. It certainty hurt, to not be understood. I had found my higher purpose, but there wasn't a single gull to share it with. I tried to show my mother once, and my father nearly pecked out my eyes he was so angry. I learned to keep to my self, to scale the clouds on my own. I became lonely for awhile, but in the end I felt comfort with the wind currents and the feel of my body easing through the sky in a way none of my Flock could achieve.

My youth was a time of uncertainty, rejection, and determination. I forced my hurt feelings to not stop me from what I loved most in the world. I toughed it out. I let my Flock hate me. I avoided the large group and ate only crumbs. But I can't remember ever feeling honestly sad. Even after my father and I got into that fight over my mother, I just flew off and practiced more high speed flying. Learning was my best friend, my family, even my Flock. If I had the power of knowledge, I didn't need the others. So, when they forced me to leave for the Far Cliffs, I briefly felt devastated, but as soon as my wings took to the sky and I realized I had unlimited time to master my flight, I had no more reason to feel upset. Remember, the gull sees farthest who flies highest.

I told this all to Fletcher, and he agreed that life before had been difficult. Since he himself had once been forced to the Far Cliffs, he was no stranger to the feelings of rejection and isolation. I think he liked seeing me again and hearing me mirror his own experiences. We agreed to give a lecture to his students and remind them that they are not alone, and that there are still Flocks out there like our Flock used to be. After the lecture, I plan to find a new Flock to educate.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Far Cliffs

It is so interesting how things change! It only makes sense, of course, that as I found ways to fly faster and higher and taught myself the essence of perfection, the cliffs also were growing, shrinking and changing. Yet, it came so unexpected. Sure, once in awhile I have gone back in time to watch the young Jonathan explore the Far Cliffs, but never have I truly ventured back to the Far Cliffs in my own time.

It was a pleasant surprise. The cliffs that were my first real home, and even to see a landscape grow and change is an excitement for me. I spent the day flying on the old wind currents. I soared higher and higher, seeing the familiar ground reach farther bellow me than I've ever seen before. It felt good, to feel the power of progress between my feathers.

I flew for hours, looking at the way the vegetation had grown larger in my absence and how the cliffs seemed to stretch taller. I flew into the night, letting moonlight shimmer against my bright wings. I imagined the Jonathan I had visited only a short time earlier, and it felt good to feel that in the same place where I had taught myself earthly limits I was now performing a higher perfection.

Finally, when these wings as strong as mine grew tired, I found rest in my old nesting tree. I settled down and rested through part of the day. Then I took off. I circled the range once more as my farewell and then I took off for the Flock.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I decided that I am going to go visit Fletcher and my old flock. I realized that it has been some time since I left him their to teach. He is still in his first life, and it is possible that his body here has grown old like mine once did. I'm not sure I will be able to find him again once he is lifted up. He may not want to come back here like I did, and then I may never see the transformation in my favorite student.

Therefore, I spent today explaining to the Flock that it was time for me to move on. They were of course sad, but I've been here as long as I'd been with Fletcher and I'm sure they can handle the rest. I explained to them that they are all wonderful fliers, and I assigned one phenomenal seagull, Rachel Gull, the position of teacher. She agreed, although like myself and Fletcher once were, she seemed to lack confidence. I am certain she will test her limits and teach the others to do the same. One day I'm sure I will return to her and see the amazing things she has done for this Flock.

So, now I press on. I will transport to the Far Cliffs and fly the rest of the way. I will visit the Flock, and hopefully some will remember me. Then I will find a new Flock, and the lessons will begin again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Magical Reality

Yesterday I spent the day showing the young flock how to bend their wings for faster speed. They were excited, and as always their excitement empowered me. I love seeing how they are eager to learn. Unlike my flock, they don't outcast my students. Even the elders seem interested, although age keeps them from putting in the effort of the younger gulls. Still, the atmosphere is so much brighter here. I do not regret leaving my flock to Fletcher. Surely I can spread out among the flocks and teach them all how to find meaning in flight? I have faith that it will be for the better.

However, lessons yesterday had me reminiscing about my first days after being outcasted. So, I decided to take a trip down to the Far Cliffs, when I was still a young gull, for old times sake. I traveled back many seasons. It has been awhile since I did some time travel, but it wasn't difficult. Just like Chiang taught me, I just had to clear my mind and will myself to my destination. I spent my night watching a young Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I was so young then! Not only in body, but also in mind. It is so strange how one can grow so much! I was a chick who was sad and isolated and not yet even a skilled flier! It was so strange to watch myself fly about in those experimental ways as I tested gravity. When I had enough, I traveled back to the flock and to my own time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Flying is the most natural thing for me. Not all gulls can say that, I know, but for me there is nothing else in any world that feels as right as soaring higher and higher into the sky. After I was out casted from the Flock, I had unlimited time to find solace in the sky. My life was surrounded by testing the power of my wings and learning more and more control over my body. It became ordinary for me to sleep in flight, to wake in flight, to use my wings to dive into the water and soar for the sun. I bent my wings, making them smaller so I could conquer earthly speed. I mastered flying on Earth, and moved on to the next life for more learning. Every day of my life was surrounded by love of learning and of flying. A day has not gone by since I was a young chick that I have not tested my limits and taught myself more pleasures of flight. Learning and flying are the only things that truly make sense. Testing my limits and pressing closer to the sky is what I live for. I do it in my sleep, in my conscious hours, in my life and in my death. Nothing is as ordinary yet extraordinary as flying. This gift of flight is something I have dedicated my life to sharing to other gulls.