Jonathan Livingston seagull (Richard Bach)

How much more there is now to living! Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there’s a reason to life! 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 to fly! (p. 9)

“Irresponsibility? My brothers!” he cried. “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 …” (p. 10)

His one sorrow was not solitude, it was that other gulls refused to believe the glory of flight that awaited them; they refused to open their eyes and see. (p. 10)

What he had once hoped for the Flock, he now gained for himself alone; he learned to fly, and was not sorry for the price that he had paid. Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed. (p. 11)

There was a limit to how much the new body could do, and though it was much faster than his old level-flight record, it was still a limit that would take great effort to crack. In heaven, he thought, there should be no limits. (p. 15)

Away off to the north, at the horizon itself, flew a few others. New sights, new thoughts, new questions. (p. 15)

“The only answer I can see, Jonathan, is that you are pretty well a one-in-a-million bird. Most of us came along ever so slowly. We went from one world into another that was almost exactly like it, forgetting right away where we had come from, not caring where we were headed, living for the moment. Do you have any idea how many lives we must have gone through before we even got the first idea that there is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power in the Flock? A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand! And then another hun-dred lives until we began to learn that there is such a thing as perfection, and another hundred again to get the idea that our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth. The same rule holds for us now, of course: we choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome.” (p. 16)

“No, Jonathan, there is no such place. Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect.” (p. 16)

“It’s strange. The gulls who scorn perfection for the sake of travel go nowhere, slowly. Those who put aside travel for the sake of perfection go any- where, instantly. Remember, Jonathan, heaven isn’t a place or a time, because place and time are so very meaningless. Heaven is …” (p. 17)

The trick was to know that his true nature lived, as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere at once across space and time. (p. 17)

If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time, we’ve destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don’t you think that we might see each other once or twice?” (p. 19)

and he knew with practised ease that he was not bone and feather but a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all. (p. 19)

“Don’t be harsh on them, Fletcher Seagull. In casting you out, the other gulls have only hurt themselves, and one day they will know this, and one day they will see what you see. Forgive them, and help them to understand.” (p. 20)

And though he tried to look properly severe for his students, Fletcher Seagull suddenly saw them all as they really were, just for a moment, and he more than liked, he loved what it was he saw. No limits, Jonathan? he thought, and he smiled. His race to learn had begun. (p. 28)


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