It’s June 23rd 2019, and I want to say a massive happy 83rd birthday to Richard Bach, author of 70s classic, ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’.
Back in the 80s, I discovered this mind-blowing book in the eclectic library of two aging peace campaigners. I read it in a single sitting, then immediately began again. It delivers the clearest of messages:
It isn’t only acceptable to be different – difference is desirable.
Society inevitably values conformity when really it should be seeking uniqueness, free-thinking and transcendence.
Of course, stability, regularity and rules are important. Vital, even.
But there is always space for those who think outside these limits, as ‘Jonathan’ does.
Plot-wise, ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ focuses on a radical young seagull who has ambitions to live differently to his fellow gulls. They exist only to eat, but Jonathan spends his days in more noble pursuits – perfecting experimental flying techniques. Undaunted by failure, even being ostracised by his fellow gulls doesn’t make him give up.
Like Jonathan, achieving my own ambitions hasn’t always been easy, but this book has given me the strength to carry on more times than I care to remember.
And it’s because of this that I recommend EVERY writer read this book, and EVERY artist. In fact, EVERY creator of EVERY kind.
But this isn’t only a book for creators, it’s a book for any free-thinker, and for everyone who has experienced isolation, disassociation or social exclusion – you too have much in common with this short novel’s titular character, and will have much to gain from Richard Bach’s writing.
So, Richard, have a wonderful birthday. Mine is one small voice among many, but I’m grateful to you for making me realise it’s OK to stand out, to leave behind the familiar, and to work towards achieving your dream, no matter what.
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