Performance Consulting

Even Terminal Velocity is Just a Limitation

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Jonathan Livingston SeagullBook: Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Author: Richard Bach

“… you have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.”

Jonathan Livingston Seagull wanted to fly. Not for the reasons that drove any common seagull to fly. Not for food. He wanted to fly for a reason that other seagulls found difficult to fathom. He loved flying.

Few may have explored the power of the human spirit and its infinite potential with the minimalism and alacrity that Richard Bach does. Jonathan, though, is no human. He and his hunger for flying is the metaphor Bach uses.

Jonathan (Jon) continued flying. His parents warned him – he needed to fit in with the flock, he needed to find himself food. Jon tried. While the other gulls couldn’t understand his hunger for flying, Jon, for his part, couldn’t understand their willingness to spend an entire lifetime fighting for food. He continued flying – from seventy miles per hour, he graduated to ninety miles per hour – seagulls aren’t built to fly at that speed – this was a record! Failure, however, was inevitable – the pullout from 90 mph was disastrous.

An inner voice told him he should go back to being a normal gull, at the precise moment when he realized that he had achieved this feat in the dark – when no seagull flies! Jon continued flying. This, until he reached terminal velocity – two hundred and fourteen miles per hour! Jon believed he had found his community a higher purpose for living. Little did he expect this would be the reason for him to be shunned by The Flock – he was now an outcast for breaking the Brotherhood. With perhaps, a heavy heart, Jon continued flying. Alone as ever. Without even regret.

Jon was alone until they came. Two glowing birds, matching his flight, glide by glide. They said they had come to take him higher. A thought. Can this old body fly any higher? But, Jon knew better by now. He knew he could – if he thought he could. He was ready. For the skies where he found like-mindedness, he found gulls who had found a purpose in flying, who pushed themselves beyond their limits. Here was heaven – where his body grew young and bright – his speed grew to two hundred and fifty miles per hour. He was a rare gull – he wasn’t one of the millions who had to go through lifetimes before they even realized that there was more to their lives.

Jon had learnt and hence had chosen his next life – that in heaven. Here, time and space ceased to exist. Jon learnt he could go wherever he wished, whenever. He learnt limitations were in the mind – not in his body. He learnt love – seeing others for what they were capable of.

Soon enough, he sensed the pull. To go back. What if there was another Jon back there? What if that one gull, dying to break free, knew all this, while he was still on earth, amongst his Flock? Listening to his heart was Jon’s only way – he went back and he found Fletcher Lynd Seagull… and Henry Calvin Gull… and Martin William Gull… and Charles-Roland Gull.

Jon was ready to move on. He flew away. Beyond the fear of being shunned. Beyond the fear of learning. Beyond the fear of being disgraced. Beyond the fear of failure. Beyond the fear of death. Beyond the fear of the unknown.

My take-aways from Jon…

» Breaking free comes with a price tag. In the end, it will be too small a price.

» Someone out there will take it upon themselves to tell you what you’re not cut for. Let them carry the burden. Someone will also tell you how gifted you are. Doesn’t matter.

» Hunger for a calling that doesn’t allow you to sleep can’t be ignored. In the end, it can’t all be about making a living, can it?

This work is an interpretation of the book by the writer. It is not paid for and the writer has no association with the author and\or the publisher of the book. Prashna Performance Consulting is not responsible for any copyright issues related to this content.

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