Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Length: 1119 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)
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Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Jonathan was not an ordinary seagull. For a thousand years, seagulls have spent their whole life on scrambling after fish heads. But Jonathan saw something different. He thought that life should not be just eating and fighting, even seagulls should have a reason to live. For him, his meaning of life is to fly. We all wish that we could spend all our time on doing things we like, just as Jonathan spent all his time on his beloved flight. However, the success in finding his meaning of life didn't bring with him any honor, but caused him to be an object of shame and irresponsibility, and to be banished due to his neglect to finding food.
After having been banished, Jonathan was full time practicing flying and made great progress. He thought he had found his own heaven, and wondered why there are so few seagulls enjoying themselves in the heaven; "heaven should be flocked with gulls!" Therefore, besides finding his own meaning of life, he eventually returned to the place that once had expelled him, and help the fellows there to find their purpose of life. This is what I like most in the story. "You don't love hatred and evil...you have to practise and see the real gull, the good in every one of them, and to help them see it themselves" Jonathan was unselfish and lenient. He wasn't hostile to those who forced him out of his homeland, on the contrary, he learned to love them and help them. To forgive and love your enemy is even more difficult than finding the meaning of life, but Jonathan, a little seagull, managed to act it out.
While Jonathan carried on practising, he found out that" this world isn't heaven at all". Heaven is being perfect, is not limited by time and space..."there is no such place". So, heaven is somewhere that we can never step out foot in. Very often, people do their best longing for the best result, they like to be perfect and try their best to be perfect. They have an idea of heaven in their mind and are upset all the time because they can never achieve it, we all have too many flaws.
Since human beings are born to be flawed, heaven, being perfect, isn't a place we belong to.
To a certain degree, I feel worried for Jonathan and those who spend their whole life on "looking for meaning". Jonathan was no doubt, a very splendid case, but how many Jonathan Livingston seagulls are there in the world? Jonathan succeeded, because he was extraordinary, he was gifted. For ordinary people, we all have limitations. It's not possible for us to turn a blind eye to our actual ability. Otherwise, you would only repeat trial and failure thousands and millions time. And at the end, who suffers? Even if you don't feel anything about that, unconsciously, your "resolution" has already cost you a lot of time, or even your whole life. Devoting too much to what you consider as meaningful is sometimes like taking a fatal risk.
If we understand this concept, then we certainly won't agree with this: "Don't believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation..." Can we really do that? If we don't trust our eyes, what can we trust upon? We learned from setbacks and failure, we are too familiar with our own strength, we all know about our limitations because they are all just lying before our eyes. So how can we possibly act out that "aphorism"? Why can't we just accept the way we are rather than pushing ourselves to extreme and suffer?
To me, this quote is best for people to get over their failure, to console themselves, to help them feel better, just as someone said "experience is the name everybody gives to their mistakes". However, the solution to completely root out this problem is: to admit your limitation, to love your flaw, and to bring your goal from heaven back to earth.
"Why, Jon, why is it so hard to be like the rest of the flock, Jon? Why can't you leave flying to the pelicans, the albatross? Why don't you eat? Jon, you're bone and feathers!" this was what Jonathan's mother told him. To be honest, I completely agree with her. Why is it so hard to go with the flow? Making something totally different from what we are now having is a harsh task, not only to the advocate, but also to the rest of the society. It's hard to change what has been defined as convention, what you have believed in for so long, and you may not even want to take the trouble to change. All these would only spoil the harmony of the society. We are all bone and flesh, we won't be staying in this world long. The why should we try to disturb the peace and quietness of this world? Why not make the world an easier place for everyone to live in? To bring about new idea and reform doesn't necessarily do good to us, conflicts are aroused especially when the newly introduced concept is against the original one... What is shown in this story is a very ideal case. Somehow, human beings are not seagulls.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull is similar to Tuesdays with Morrie as well as many other books. All of them try hard to remind people that living is not existing, it should have meaning and love, which can give you happiness that substantial material can never buy. With all these everyday lectures, these books sell over millions of copies! But actually, how many people can really apply them in reality? We all have heard of them before we read these books, and after reading them we only hear one more time on the same topic out of a thousand. I understand what the author wants to convey but I simply cannot agree with him. Sometimes, we can do things without meaning. Life is actually a good example. Why do we need to live? Even if we are not here, the world can still take care of itself. Even if you don't get a purpose for your life, it doesn't affect your health...Whether you act with meaning or not, you all face the same fate in the end, so does it really matter so much what you have done during your lifetime? Nevertheless, without a goal, you won't persist in so many things, you know when you can give up, when to relax, when to be lighthearted...the biggest reward you have is an easier life.