Some books just hit you so hard that it hurts like heaven. They strike a chord in your heart making you feel so good that you start crying.
Last week I came across one of these kinds of books in a local cafe in Dharamshala called Jonathon Livingston Seagull. Truth be told I picked it up by looking at its cover and the quality of its pages.
Anyway, this book is about the life story of a seagull (read a person) who is a ‘little’ different from the rest of the seagulls (read society).
While all the seagulls are busy fighting for bits and pieces of food from a fishing boat (read earning a living), Jonathan was far away from all the seagulls practicing different maneuvers of flight (read pursuing his passion) because he loved flying.
This kind of approach made him unpopular with the other seagulls and more so with his parents who were disappointed by him. His parents always asked him the reason why he could not be like the others. And he would often reply because he wanted to know what he can or can not do in the air.
he just wanted to know.
His parents would retort back that all this emotional and inspirational talk won’t feed him. He can not eat his maneuvers. They reminded him that the reason they all live is to eat.
So, he bowed obediently and tried his best to be just like the others but couldn’t make it work. Dejected, he said to himself, “It’s all pointless, meaningless, senseless. I could use all this time learning to fly. There’s so much to learn!”
So off he went again to the far outer reaches of the sky where no one intruded to learn. He was hungry but happy and content.
He started to learn voraciously giving his everything, trying different movements many, many times. He would fail but he wouldn’t give up. He would try again before finally succeeding.
He would push himself to the limits to achieve excellence because nothing less than that would work for him.
Watching Jonathon not obeying the rules, the council of the seagulls declared him an outcast (pretty obvious, right?). But Jonathon didn’t care the least. He started to spend his days alone, learning something new all the time.
He was dejected too, not because of solitude but because other seagulls refused to open their eyes and see that there’s so much more to life than just eating. But he had no regrets.
Just as he was gliding across the sky over the sea peacefully all alone, he was joined by two other gulls who were bright as starlight. They told him that they are his brother and had come there to take you higher, to take you home.
And he said, “I’m ready!”
Its impact on me
I was moved to tears after reading this. I could relate this thing happening to so many of us. Generations upon generations, people keep on living like a machine because they see everyone around them doing the same because they were told to fit in a mold by their parents and their parents in turn told them to follow the herd.
I always had a contrarian view towards life from what most people around me had. I would almost always do the opposite of what my parents or so-called friends would tell me to do. I did not want to be one of them. I know I am born unique and the purpose why I am alive is to find myself, know more about myself. And this book only reinforced my philosophy of life.
So many people waste their entire lives away to secure a comfortable, convenient life for themselves. And these are the people who have the maximum regrets on their deathbed.
I want to die with the least number of regrets haunting me on my deathbed.
Live to Eat or Eat to Live — I choose Eat to Live, what do you choose?