Have you dared, will you dare to spread your wings and fly?

My favorite novel is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.  It's a story about a seagull who wants to fly -- not to use flying as a tool for survival nor for any other purpose -- but for the sheer joy of flying itself.  I have found this book to be an absolutely wonderful metaphor for the happiest way to live my life.  Jonathan encounters adversaries, seagulls who want him to hold himself back, to do things as they've always been done, the way things were "meant" to be done.  Everyone in his flock is against him, including his parents.  But Jonathan follows flying for flying's sake, he has the courage to follow what's in his heart.  And he learns so much about himself from truly living; not just surviving but living!!  He says himself, when he realizes the power that this breakthrough of flying for the love of flying has, "...we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill.  We can be free!  We can learn to fly!"  And moreover, after being outcast by everyone, after being banished, and after discovering all the joys of flying and the freedom and happiness it brings him, he goes back to share what he's learned with anyone else who's willing.  Even with those who cast him out to begin with.
And it takes a lot of courage to live in that way, to follow your heart.  When you put everything you hold dear on the line just to follow your heart, your dreams, you risk so much for something so uncertain.  What if, on his first flight, Jonathan had been going far too fast and died in a crash?  And what if his body was truly nothing more than his 42" wingspan?  Scary possibilities.  But what if he tried, and what if he flew?  Faster, higher, something no one had ever done before, because he had the courage to try.  Amazing are the things we can do if we have the courage to try, to face the unknown... and suddenly it becomes known!  This book is not about the flight of one seagull, but of our hearts, our very spirits and imaginations and dreams.  And I greatly recommend it to anyone who has, or wants to have, the courage to follow their own.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is the first book by Richard Bach that I ever read.  I was seven the first time I read it, and said to myself, wow, wasn't that a nice story about a bird who learned how to fly, and taught others how to fly.  I read it again, for a second time, when I was sixteen, and saw something I clearly missed the first time.  What I saw was the potential inherent in not just one seagull, but in every living being, and how fortunate are those of us who are brave enough to follow it.  What I've learned is that what I saw was not the potential to succeed, to become famous, rich, powerful, or even glorious.  What I was was the potential to love -- to follow your love, to hold it in your heart, to cherish it, and to let it flourish with you.  And what I've discovered only very recently is that the potential to love is there, inside all of us; and when we choose to share that love with one another, it's the most beautiful thing that we can do.

I also highly recommend, by Richard Bach, his book The Bridge Across Forever, which is a semi-autobiographical love story, and it's absolutely fantastic.  He has eight other books which are also really good, my favorites of which are One, Illusions, Running From Safety, and There's No Such Place as Far Away.  His other books are A Gift of Wings, Nothing by Chance, Biplane, and Stranger to the Ground.  He's a very spiritual person, he loves to fly, but perhaps most importantly, through his stories he lets us in on how he discovers himself, and he helps us to discover inner truths about ourselves.

We are not limited by the pounds of flesh and bones and guts that we live our entire lives in.  We are not bound by these Earthly limits of our bodies.  Rather than creatures of this Earth I believe us to be spirits of thought and feeling, limited only by our minds, hearts, and our courage to believe in what they tell us.

There are no limits.

Email me here ethan@isp.nwu.edu
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