Lessons from a seagull

One of my all time favourite books is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.  Bach achieved the impossible.  He gave humans wings.

The book changed my perspective and, importantly, helped me understand the trajectory of my life.  I return to the book repeatedly, every time finding deeper meaning than before.  Oh! the power of words!

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you.  All they show is limitation.  Look with your understanding.  Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”

Yes, Bach gave me wings.

I know where there is water, there are seagulls.  So I seek them.  Some may regard seagulls as pests.  Vermin, even.  Not me!

I started photographing seagulls some years ago and realised they were a perfect subject for mindfulness.  I saw them for what they were in the moment.







Seagulls have taught me to sit with the thought.  Sit with the emotion.  Try and understand.  The operative word is, understand.

Understanding has many layers and one does not have to dig deep to strike the mother lode of facts.  When you do, beyond what the eye sees are incidental gains, important ones, of compassion, humility, wisdom.  But one has to first learn how to dig, trawl, and then sift.  (Any postgraduate student will attest to this).

I’ve learned when travelling along ‘information highways’, and when seated in coffee shops too, ‘clicking’, ‘chatting’, snippets of benign conversation may give information.  It is easy for people to ‘analyze’ it, consider it out of context and then spout their unsolicited ‘expertise’ as fact, worse still, knowledge.  It is like someone calling themselves an artist, after completing a connect-the-dots exercise.

There is nothing more frustrating than talking to someone who knows it all.  If you have raised teens, this will resonate with you!  But despite the angst (of parent and child), it is a critical time of social development.  It can be navigated carefully.  My father did this successfully.

I recall my father saying, “Be careful of people who know it all.  They have a closed mind.”  To some this may seem a paradox.  It did to me.  It also made me stop and think.

My father knew me well.  Always a learner, a closed mind to me was death.

So I continue learning, a willing student, available and accessible, receptive to all  teachers.  Seagulls, too.

This.  Is.  Living.

Now I must fly.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird




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