Jonathan Livingston Seagull A Story | Chapter 2 of 2

Author: Richard Bach | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 210613 Views | Add a Review

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                    Richard Bach                
                    Jonathan Livingston Seagull                
                    To the real Jonathan Seagull,                
                    who lives within us all.                
                    Part One                
         It was morning, and the new sun sparkled gold across the ripples of a       
         gentle sea. A mile from shore a fishing boat chummed the water. and the       
         word for Breakfast Flock flashed through the air, till a crowd of a       
         thousand seagulls came to dodge and fight for bits of food. It was another       
         busy day beginning.       
         But way off alone, out by himself beyond boat and shore, Jonathan       
         Livingston Seagull was practicing. A hundred feet in the sky he lowered       
         his webbed feet, lifted his beak, and strained to hold a painful hard       
         twisting curve through his wings. The curve meant that he would fly       
         slowly, and now he slowed until the wind was a whisper in his face, until       
         the ocean stood still beneath him. He narrowed his eyes in fierce       
         concentration, held his breath, forced one... single... more... inch...       
         of... curve... Then his featliers ruffled, he stalled and fell.       
         Seagulls, as you know, never falter, never stall. To stall in the air       
         is for them disgrace and it is dishonor.       
         But Jonathan Livingston Seagull, unashamed, stretching his wings       
         again in that trembling hard curve - slowing, slowing, and stalling once       
         more - was no ordinary bird.       
         Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of       
         flight - how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it       
         is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not       
         eating that mattered, but flight. More than anything else. Jonathan       
         Livingston Seagull loved to fly.       
         This kind of thinking, he found, is not the way to make one's self       
         popular with other birds. Even his parents were dismayed as Jonathan spent       
         whole days alone, making hundreds of low-level glides, experimenting.       
         He didn't know why, for instance, but when he flew at altitudes less       
         than half his wingspan above the water, he could stay in the air longer,       
         with less effort. His glides ended not with the usual feet-down splash       
         into the sea, but with a long flat wake as he touched the surface with his       
         feet tightly streamlined against his body. When he began sliding in to       
         feet-up landings on the beach, then pacing the length of his slide in the       
         sand, his parents were very much dismayed indeed.       
         "Why, Jon, why?" his mother asked. "Why is it so hard to be like the       
         rest of the flock, Jon? Why can't you leave low flying to the pelicans,       
         the alhatross? Why don't you eat? Son, you're bone and feathers!"       
         "I don't mind being bone and feathers mom. I just want to know what I       
         can do in the air and what I can't, that's all. I just want to know."       
         "See here Jonathan " said his father not unkindly. "Winter isn't far       
         away. Boats will be few and the surface fish will be swimming deep. If you       
         must study, then study food, and how to get it. This flying business is       
         all very well, but you can't eat a glide, you know. Don't you forget that       
         the reason you fly is to eat."       
         Jonathan nodded obediently. For the next few days he tried to behave       
         like the other gulls; he really tried, screeching and fighting with the       
         flock around the piers and fishing boats, diving on scraps of fish and       
         bread. But he couldn't make it work.       
         It's all so pointless, he thought, deliberately dropping a hard-won       
         anchovy to a hungry old gull chasing him. I could be spending all this       
         time learning to fly. There's so much to learn!       
         It wasn't long before Jonathan Gull was off by himself again, far out       
         at sea, hungry, happy, learning.       
         The subject was speed, and in a week's practice he learned more about       
         speed than the fastest gull alive.       
         From a thousand feet, flapping his wings as hard as he could, he       
         pushed over into a blazing steep dive toward the waves, and learned why       
         seagulls don't make blazing steep pewer-dives. In just six seconds he was       
         moving seventy miles per hour, the speed at which one's wing goes unstable       
         on the upstroke.       
         Time after time it happened. Careful as he was, working at the very       
         peak of his ability, he lost control at high speed.       
         Climb to a thousand feet. Full power straight ahead first, then push       
         over, flapping, to a vertical dive. Then, every time, his left wing       
         stalled on an upstroke, he'd roll violently left, stall his right wing       
         recovering, and flick like fire into a wild tumbling spin to the right.       
         He couldn't be careful enough on that upstroke. Ten times he tried,       
         and all ten times, as he passed through seventy miles per hour, he burst       
         into a churning mass of feathers, out of control, crashing down into the       
         The key, he thought at last, dripping wet, must be to hold the wings       
         still at high speeds - to flap up to fifty and then hold the wings still.       
         From two thousand feet he tried again, rolling into his dive, beak       
         straight down, wings full out and stable from the moment he passed fifty       
         miles per hour. It took tremendous strength, but it worked. In ten seconds       
         he had blurred through ninety miles per hour. Jonathan had set a world       
         speed record for seagulls!       
         But victory was short-lived. The instant he began his pullout, the       
         instant he changed the angle of his wings, he snapped into that same       
         terrible uncontrolled disaster, and at ninety miles per hour it hit him       
         like dynamite. Jonathan Seagull exploded in midair and smashed down into a       
         brickhard sea.       
         When he came to, it was well after dark, and he floated in moonlight       
         on the surface of the ocean. His wings were ragged bars of lead, but the       
         weight of failure was even heavier on his back. He wished, feebly, that       
         the weight could be just enough to drug him gently down to the bottom, and       
         end it all.       
         As he sank low in the water, a strange hollow voice sounded within       
         him. There's no way around it. I am a seagull. I am limited by my nature.       
         If I were meant to learn so much about flying, I'd have charts for brains.       
         If I were meant to fly at speed, I'd have a falcon's short wings, and live       
         on mice instead of fish. My father was right. I must forget this       
         foolishness. I must fly home to the Flock and be content as I am, as a       
         poor limited seagull.       
         The voice faded, and Jonathan agreed. The place for a seagull at       
         night is on shore, and from this moment forth, he vowed, he would be a       
         normal gull. It would make everyone happier.       
         He pushed wearily away from the dark water and flew toward the land,       
         grateful for what he had learned about work-saving low-altitude flying.       
         But no, he thought. I am done with the way I was, I am done with       
         everything I learned. I am a seagull like every other seagull, and I will       
         fly like one. So he climbed painfully to a hundred feet and flapped his       
         wings harder, pressing for shore.       
         He felt better for his decision to be just another one of the Flock.       
         There would be no ties now to the force that had driven him to learn,       
         there would be no more challenge and no more failure. And it was pretty,       
         just to stop thinking, and fly through the dark, toward the lights above       
         the beach.       
         Dark! The hollow voice cracked in alarm. Seagulls never fly in the       
         Jonathan was not alert to listen. It's pretty, he thought. The moon       
         and the lights twinkling on the water, throwing out little beacon-trails       
         through the night, and all so peaceful and still...       
         Get down! Seagulls never fly in the dark! If you were meant to fly in       
         the dark, you'd have the eyes of an owl! You'd have charts for brains!       
         You'd have a falcon's short wings!       
         There in the night, a hundred feet in the air, Jonathan Livingston       
         Seagull - blinked. His pain, his resolutions, vanished.       
         Short wings. A falcon's short wings!       
         That's the answer! What a fool I've been! All I need is a tiny little       
         wing, all I need is to fold most of my wings and fly on just the tips       
         alone! Short wings!       
         He climbed two thousand feet above the black sea, and without a       
         moment for thought of failure and death, he brought his forewings tightly       
         in to his body, left only the narrow swept daggers of his wingtips       
         extended into the wind, and fell into a vertical dive.       
         The wind was a monster roar at his head. Seventy miles per hour,       
         ninety, a hundred and twenty and faster still. The wing-strain now at a       
         hundred and forty miles per hour wasn't nearly as hard as it had been       
         before at seventy, and with the faintest twist of his wingtips he eased       
         out of the dive and shot above the waves, a gray cannonball under the       
         He closed his eyes to slits against the wind and rejoiced. A hundred       
         forty miles per hour! And under control! If I dive from five thousand feet       
         instead of two thousand, I wonder how fast..       
         His vows of a moment before were forgotten, swept away in that great       
         swift wind. Yet he felt guiltless, breaking the promises he had made       
         himself. Such promises are only for the gulls that accept the ordinary.       
         One who has touched excellence in his learning has no need of that kind of       
         By sunup, Jonathan Gull was practicing again. From five thousand feet       
         the fishing boats were specks in the flat blue water, Breakfast Flock was       
         a faint cloud of dust motes, circling.       
         He was alive, trembling ever so slightly with delight, proud that his       
         fear was under control. Then without ceremony he hugged in his forewings,       
         extended his short, angled wingtips, and plunged direcfly toward the sea.       
         By the time he passed four thousand feet he had reached terminal velocity,       
         the wind was a solid beating wall of sound against which he could move no       
         faster. He was flying now straight down, at two hundred fourteen miles per       
         hour. He swallowed, knowing that if his wings unfolded at that speed be'd       
         be blown into a million tiny shreds of seagull. But the speed was power,       
         and the speed was joy, and the speed was pure beauty.       
         He began his pullout at a thousand feet, wingtips thudding and       
         blurring in that gigatitic wind, the boat and the crowd of gulls tilting       
         and growing meteor-fast, directly in his path.       
         He couldn't stop; he didn't know yet even how to turn at that speed.       
         Collision would be instant death.       
         And so he shut his eyes.       
         It happened that morning, then, just after sunrise, that Ionathan       
         Livingston Seagull fired directly through the center of Breakfast Flock,       
         ticking off two hundred twelve miles per hour, eyes closed, in a great       
         roaring shriek of wind and feathers. The Gull of Fortune smiled upon him       
         this once, and no one was killed.       
         By the time he had pulled his beak straight up into the sky he was       
         still scorching along at a hundred and sixty miles per hour. When he had       
         slowed to twenty and stretched his wings again at last, the boat was a       
         crumb on the sea, four thousand feet below.       
         His thought was triumph. Terminal velocity! A seagull at two hundred       
         fourteen miles per hour! It was a breakthrough, the greatest single moment       
         in the history of the Flock, and in that moment a new age opened for       
         Jonathan Gull. Flying out to his lonely practice area, folding his wings       
         for a dive from eight thousand feet, he set himself at once to discover       
         how to turn.       
         A single wingtip feather, he found, moved a fraction of an inch,       
         gives a smooth sweeping curve at tremendous speed. Before he learned this,       
         however, he found that moving more than one feather at that speed will       
         spin you like a ritIe ball... and Jonathan had flown the first aerobatics       
         of any seagull on earth.       
         He spared no time that day for talk with other gulls, but flew on       
         past sunset. He discovered the loop, the slow roll, the point roll, the       
         inverted spin, the gull bunt, the pinwheel.       
         When Jonathan Seagull joined the Flock on the beach, it was full       
         night. He was dizzy and terribly tired. Yet in delight he flew a loop to       
         landing, with a snap roll just before touchdown. When they hear of it, he       
         thought, of the Breakthrough, they'll be wild with joy. How much more       
         there is now to living! Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the       
         fishing boats, there's a reason to life! We can lift ourselves out of       
         ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and       
         intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!       
         The years ahead hummed and glowed with promise.       
         The gulls were flocked into the Council Gathering when he landed, and       
         apparently had been so flocked for some time. They were, in fact, waiting.       
         "Jonathan Livingston Seagull! Stand to Center!" The Elder's words       
         sounded in a voice of highest ceremony. Stand to Center meant only great       
         shame or great honor. Stand to Center for Honor was the way the gulls'       
         foremost leaders were marked. Of course, he thought, the Breakfast Flock       
         this morning; they saw the Breakthrough! But I want no honors. I have no       
         wish to be leader. I want only to share what I've found, to show those       
         horizons out ahead for us all. He stepped forward.       
         "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," said the Elder, "Stand to Center for       
         Shame in the sight of your fellow gulls!"       
         It felt like being hit with a board. His knees went weak, his       
         feathers sagged, there was roaring in his ears. Centered for shame?       
         Impossible! The Breakthrough! They can't understand! They're wrong,       
         they're wrong!       
         "... for his reckless irresponsibility " the solemn voice intoned,       
         "violating the dignity and tradition of the Gull Family..."       
         To be centered for shame meant that he would be cast out of gull       
         society, banished to a solitary life on the Far Cliffs.       
         "... one day Jonathan Livingston Seagull, you shall learn that       
         irresponsibility does not pay. Life is the unknown and the unknowable,       
         except that we are put into this world to eat, to stay alive as long as we       
         possibly can."       
         A seagull never speaks back to the Council Flock, but it was       
         Jonathan's voice raised. "Irresponsibility? My brothers!" he cried. "Who       
         is more responsible than a gull who finds and follows a meaning, a higher       
         purpose for life? For a thousand years we have scrabbled after fish heads,       
         but now we have a reason to live - to learn, to discover, to be free! Give       
         me one chance, let me show you what I've found..."       
         The Flock might as well have been stone.       
         "The Brotherhood is broken," the gulls intoned together, and with one       
         accord they solemnly closed their ears and turned their backs upon him.       
         Jonathan Seagull spent the rest of his days alone, but he flew way       
         out beyond the Far Cliffs. His one sorrow was not solituile, it was that       
         other gulls refused to believe the glory of flight that awaited them; they       
         refused to open their eyes and see. He learned more each day. He learned       
         that a streamlined high-speed dive could bring him to find the rare and       
         tasty fish that schooled ten feet below the surface of the ocean: he no       
         longer needed fishing boats and stale bread for survival. He learned to       
         sleep in the air, setting a course at night across the offshore wind,       
         covering a hundred miles from sunset to sunrise. With the same inner       
         control, he flew through heavy sea-fogs and climbed above them into       
         dazzling clear skies... in the very times when every other gull stood on       
         the ground, knowing nothing but mist and rain. He learned to ride the high       
         winds far iniand, to dine there on delicate insects.       
         What he had once hoped for the Flock, he now gained for himself       
         alone; he learned to fly, and was not sorry for the price that he had       
         paid. Jonathan Scagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the       
         reasons that a gull's life is so short, and with these gone from his       
         thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.       
         They came in the evening, then, and found Ionathan gliding peaceful       
         and alone through his beloved sky. The two gulls that appeared at his       
         wings were pure as starlight, and the glow from them was gentle and       
         friendly in the high night air. But most lovely of all was the skill with       
         which they flew, their wingtips moving a precise and constant inch from       
         his own. Without a word, Jonathan put them to his test, a test that no       
         gull had ever passed. He twisted his wings, slowed to a single mile per       
         hour above stall. The two radiant birds slowed with him, smoothly, locked       
         in position. They knew about slow flying.       
         He folded his wings, rolled and dropped in a dive to a hundred ninety       
         miles per hour. They dropped with him, streaking down in flawless       
         At last he turned that speed straight up into a long vertical       
         slow-roll. They rolled with him, smiling.       
         He recovered to level flight and was quiet for a time before he       
         spoke. "Very well," he said, "who are you?"       
         "We're from your Flock, Jonathan. We are your brothers." The words       
         were strong and calm. "We've come to take you higher, to take you home."       
         "Home I have none. Flock I have none. I am Outcast. And we fly now at       
         the peak of the Great Mountain Wind. Beyond a few hundred feet, I can lift       
         this old body no higher."       
         "But you can Jonathan. For you have learned. One school is finished,       
         and the time has come for another to begin."       
         As it had shined across him all his life, so understanding lighted       
         that moment for Jonathan Seagull. They were right. He could fly higher,       
         and it was time to go home.       
         He gave one last look across the sky, across that magnificent silver       
         land where he had learned so much.       
         "I'm ready " he said at last.       
         And Jonathan Livingston Seagull rose with the two starbright gulls to       
         disappear into a perfect dark sky.       
                    Part Two                
         So this is heaven, he thought, and he had to smile at himself. It was       
         hardly respectful to analyze heaven in the very moment that one flies up       
         to enter it.       
         As he came from Earth now, above the clouds and in close formation       
         with the two brilliant gulls, he saw that his own body was growing as       
         bright as theirs. True, the same young Jonathan Seagull was there that had       
         always lived behind his golden eyes, but the outer form had changed.       
         It felt like a seagull body, but alreadv it flew far better than his       
         old one had ever flown. Why, with half the effort, he thought, I'll get       
         twice the speed, twice the performance of my best days on Earth!       
         His feathers glowed brilliant white now, and his wings were smooth       
         and perfect as sheets of polished silver. He began, delightedly, to learn       
         about them, to press power into these new wings.       
         At two hundred fifty mlles per hour he felt that he was nearing his       
         level-flight maximum speed. At two hundred seventy-three he thought that       
         he was flying as fast as he could fly, and he was ever so faintly       
         disappointed. There was a limit to how much the new body could do, and       
         though it was much faster than his old level-flight record, it was still a       
         limit that would take great effort to crack. In heaven, he thought, there       
         should be no limits.       
         The clouds broke apart, his escorts called, "Happy landings,       
         Jonathan," and vanished into thin air.       
         He was flying over a sea, toward a jagged shoreline. A very few       
         seagulls were working the updrafts on the cliffs. Away off to the north,       
         at the horizon itself, flew a few others. New sights, new thoughts, new       
         questions. Why so few gulls? Heaven should be flocked with gulls! And why       
         am I so tired, all at once? Gulls in heaven are never supposed to be       
         tired, or to sleep.       
         Where had he heard that? The memory of his life on Earth was falling       
         away. Earth had been a place where he had learned much, of course, but the       
         details were blurred - something about fighting for food, and being       
         The dozen gulls by the shoreline came to meet him, none saying a       
         word. He felt only that he was welcome and that this was home. It had been       
         a bigday for him, a day whose sunrise he no longer remembered.       
         He turned to land on the beach, beating his wings to stop an inch in       
         the air, then dropping lightly to the sand, The other gulls landed too,       
         but not one of them so much as flapped a feather. They swung into the       
         wind, bright wings outstretched, then somehow they changed the curve of       
         their feathers until they had stopped in the same instant their feet       
         touched the ground. It was beautiful control, but now Jonathan was just       
         too tired to try it. Standiug there on the beach, still without a word       
         spoken, he was asleep.       
         In the days that followed, Jonathan saw that there was as much to       
         learn about flight in this place as there had been in the life behind him.       
         But with a difference. Here were gulls who thought as he thought, For each       
         of them, the most important thing in living was to reach out and touch       
         perfection in that which they most loved to do, and that was to fly. They       
         were magnificent birds, all of them, and they spent hour after hour every       
         day practicing flight, testing advanced aeronautics.       
         For a long time Jonathan forgot about the world that he had come       
         from, that place where the Flock lived with its eyes tightly shut to the       
         joy of flight, using its wings as means to the end of finding and fighting       
         for food. But now and then, just for a moment, he remembered.       
         He remembered it one morning when he was out with his instructor,       
         while they rested on the beach after a session of folded-wing snap rolls.       
         "Where is everybody, Sullivan?" he asked silently, quite at home now       
         with the easy telepathy that these gulls used instead of screes and       
         gracks. "Why aren't there more of us here? Why, where I came from there       
         were.. "       
         "... thousands and thousands of gulls. I know. " Sullivan shook his       
         head. "The only answer I can see, Jonathan, is that you are pretty well a       
         one-in-a-million bird. Most of us came along ever so slowly. We went from       
         one world into another that was almost exactly like it, forgettiug right       
         away where we had come from, not caring where we were headed, living for       
         the moment. Do you have any idea how many lives we must have gone through       
         before we even gor the first idea that there is more to life than eating,       
         or fighting, or power in the Flock? A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand!       
         And then another hundred lives until we began to learn that there is such       
         a thing as perfection, and another hundred again to get the idea that our       
         purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth. The same       
         rule holds for us now, of course: we choose our next world through what we       
         learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this       
         one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome."       
         He stretched his wings and turned to face the wind. "But you, Jon,"       
         he said, "learned so much at one time that you didn't have to go through a       
         thousand lives to reach this one."       
         In a moment they were airborne again, practicing. The formation       
         point-roils were difficult, for through the inverted half Jonathan had to       
         think upside down, reversing the curve of his wing, and reversing it       
         exactly in harmony with his instructor's.       
         "Let's try it again." Sullivan said over and over: "Let's try it       
         again." Then, finally, "Good." And they began practicing outside loops.       
         One evening the gulls that were not night-flying stood together on       
         the sand, thinking. Jonathan took all his courage in hand and walked to       
         the Elder Gull, who, it was said, was soon to be moving beyond this world.       
         "Chiang..." he said a little nervously.       
         The old seagull looked at him kindly. "Yes, my son?" Instead of being       
         enfeebled by age, the Elder had been empowered by it; he could outfly any       
         gull in the Flock, and he had learned skills that the others were only       
         gradually coming to know.       
         "Chiang, this world isn't heaven at all, is it?" The Elder smiled in       
         the moonlight. "You are learning again, Jonathan Seagull," he said.       
         "Well, what happens from here? Where are we going? Is there no such       
         place as heaven?"       
         "No, Jonathan, there is no such place. Heaven is not a place, and it       
         is not a time. Heaven is being perfect." He was silent for a moment. "You       
         are a very fast flier, aren't you?"       
         "I... I enjoy speed," Jonathan said, taken aback but proud that the       
         Elder had noticed.       
         "You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you       
         touch perfect speed. And that isn't flying a thousand miles an hour, or a       
         million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit,       
         and perfection doesn't have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being       
         Without warning, Chiang vanished and appeared at the water's edge       
         fifty feet away, all in the flicker of an instant. Then he vanished again       
         and stood, in the same millisecond, at Jonathan's shoulder. "It's kind of       
         fun," he said.       
         Jonathan was dazzled. He forgot to ask about heaven. "How do you do       
         that? What does it feel like? How far can you go?"       
         "You can go to any place and to any time that you wish to go," the       
         Elder said. "I've gone everywhere and everywhen I can think of." He looked       
         across the sea. "It's strange. The gulls who scorn perfection for the sake       
         of travel go nowhere, slowly. Those who put aside travel for the sake of       
         perfection go anywhere, instantly. Remember, Jonathan, heaven isn't a       
         place or a time, because place and time are so very meaningless. Heaven       
         "Can you teach me to fly like that?" Jonathan Seagull trembled to       
         conquer another unknown.       
         "Of course if you wish to learn."       
         "I wish. When can we start?".       
         "We could start now if you'd like."       
         "I want to learn to fly like that," Jonathan said and a strange light       
         glowed in his eyes. "Tell me what to do,"       
         Chiang spoke slowly and watched the younger gull ever so carefully.       
         "To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is," he said, "you must begin       
         by knowing that you have already arrived ..."       
         The trick, according to Chiang, was for Jonathan to stop seeing       
         himself as trapped inside a limited body that had a forty-two inch       
         wingspan and performance that could be plotted on a chart. The trick was       
         to know that his true nature lived, as perfect as an unwritten number,       
         everywhere at once across space and time.       
         Jonathan kept at it, fiercely, day after day, from before sunrise       
         till past midnight. And for all his effort he moved not a feather width       
         from his spot.       
         "Forget about faith!" Chiang said it time and again. "You didn't need       
         faith to fly, you needed to understand flying.This is jast the same. Now       
         try again ..."       
         Then one day Jonathan, standing on the shore, closing his eyes,       
         concentrating, all in a flash knew what Chiang had been telling him. "Why,       
         that's true! I am a perfect, unlimited gull!" He felt a great shock of       
         "Good!" said Chiang and there was victory in his voice.       
         Jonathan opened his eyes. He stood alone with the Elder on a totally       
         different seashore - trees down to the water's edge, twin yellow suns       
         turning overhead.       
         "At last you've got the idea," Chiang said, "but your control needs a       
         little work... "       
         Jonathan was stunned. "Where are we?"       
         Utterly unimpressed with the strange surroundings, the Elder brushed       
         the question aside. "We're on some planet, obviously, with a green sky and       
         a double star for a sun."       
         Jonathan made a scree of delight, the first sound he had made since       
         he had left Earth. "IT WORKS!"       
         "Well, of course, it works, Jon." said Chiang. "It always works, when       
         you know what you're doing. Now about your control..."       
         By the time they returned, it was dark. The other gulls looked at       
         Jonathan with awe in their golden eyes, for they had seen him disappear       
         from where he had been rooted for so long.       
         He stood their congratulations for less than a minute. "I'm the       
         newcomer here! I'm just beginning! It is I who must learn from you!"       
         "I wonder about that, Jon," said Sullivan standing near. "You have       
         less fear of learning than any gull I've seen in ten thousand years. "The       
         Flock fell silent, and Jonathan fidgeted in embarrassment.       
         "We can start working with time if you wish," Chiang said, "till you       
         can fly the past and the future. And then you will be ready to begin the       
         most difficult, the most powerful, the most fun of all. You will be ready       
         to begin to fly up and know the meaning of kindness and of love."       
         A month went by, or something that felt about like a month, and       
         Jonathan learned at a tremendous rate. He always had learned quickly from       
         ordinary experience, and now, the special student of the Elder Himself, he       
         took in new ideas like a streamlined feathered computer.       
         But then the day came that Chiang vanished. He had been talking       
         quietly with them all, exhorting them never to stop their learning and       
         their practicing and their striving to understand more of the perfect       
         invisible principle of all life. Then, as he spoke, his feathers went       
         brighter and brighter and at last turned so brilliant that no gull could       
         look upon him.       
         "Jonathan," he said, and these were the last words that he spoke,       
         "keep working on love."       
         When they could see again, Chiang was gone.       
         As the days went past, Jonathan found himself thinking time and again       
         of the Earth from which he had come. If he had known there just a tenth,       
         just a hundredth, of what he knew here, how much more life would have       
         meant! He stood on the sand and fell to wondering if there was a gull back       
         there who might be struggling to break out of his limits, to see the       
         meaning of flight beyond a way of travel to get a breadcrumb from a       
         rowboat. Perhaps there might even have been one made Outcast for speaking       
         his truth in the face of the Flock. And the more Jonathan practiced his       
         kindness lessons, and the more he worked to know the nature of love, the       
         more he wanted to go back to Earth. For in spite of his lonely past,       
         Jonathan Seagull was born to be an instructor, and his own way of       
         demonstrating love was to give something of the truth that he had seen to       
         a gull who asked only a chance to see truth for himself.       
         Sullivan, adept now at thought-speed flight and helping the others to       
         learn, was doubrful.       
         "Jon, you were Outcast once. Why do you think that any of the gulls       
         in your old time would listen to you now? You know the proverb, and it's       
         true: The gull sees farthest who flies highest. Those gulls where you came       
         from are standing on the ground, squawking and fighting among themselves.       
         They're a thousand miles from heaven - and you say you want to show them       
         heaven from where they stand! Jon, they can't see their own wingtips! Stay       
         here. Help the new gulls here, the ones who are high enough to see what       
         you have to tell them." He was quiet for a moment, and then he said, "What       
         if Chiang had gone back to his old worlds? Where would you have been       
         The last point was the telling one, and Sullivan was right The gull       
         sees farthest who flies highest.       
         Jonathan stayed and worked with the new birds coming in, who were all       
         very bright and quick with their lessons. But the old feeling came back,       
         and he couldn't help but think that there might be one or two gulls back       
         on Earth who would be able to learn, too. How much more would he have       
         known by now if Chiang had come to him on the day that he was Outcast!       
         "Sully, I must go back " he said at last "Your students are doing       
         well. They can help you bring the newcomers along."       
         Sullivan sighed, but he did not argue. "I think I'll miss you,       
         Jonathan," was all he said.       
         "Sully, for shame!" Jonathan said in reproach, "and don't be foolish!       
         What are we trying to practice every day? If our friendship depends on       
         things like space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time,       
         we've destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have       
         left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the       
         middle of Here and Now, don't you think that we might see each other once       
         or twice?"       
         Sullivan Seagull laughed in spite of himself. "You crazy bird," he       
         said kindly. "If anybody can show someone on the ground how to see a       
         thousand miles, it will be Jonathan Livingston Seagull." He looked at the       
         sand. "Good-bye, Jon, my friend."       
         "Good bye, Sully. We'll meet again." And with that, Jonathan held in       
         thought an image of the great gull flocks on the shore of another time,       
         and he knew with practiced ease that he was not bone and feather but a       
         perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all.       
         Fletcher Lynd Seagull was still quite young, but already he knew that       
         no bird had ever been so harshly treated by any Flock, or with so much       
         "I don't care what they say," he thought fiercely, and his vision       
         blurred as he flew out toward the Far Cliffs. "There's so much more to       
         flying than just flapping around from place to place! A... a... mosquito       
         does that! One little barrel roll around the Elder Gull, just for fun, and       
         I'm Outcast! Are they blind? Can't they see? Can't they think of the glory       
         that it'll be when we really learn to fly?       
         "I don't care what they think. I'll show them what flying is! I'll be       
         pure Outlaw, if that's the way they want it. And I'll make them so       
         The voice came inside his own head, and though it was very gentle, it       
         startled him so much that he faltered and stumbled in the air.       
         "Don't be harsh on them, Fletcher Seagull. In casting you out, the       
         other gulls have only hurt themselves, and one day they will know this,       
         and one day they will see what you see. Forgive them, and help them to       
         An inch from his right wingtip flew the most brilliant white gull in       
         all the world, gliding effortlessly along, not moving a feather, at what       
         was very nearly Fletcher's top speed.       
         There was a moment of chaos in the young bird. "What's going on? Am I       
         mad? Am I dead? What is this?"       
         Low and calm, the voice went on within his thought, demanding an       
         answer. "Fletcher Lynd Seagull, do you want to fly?"       
         "YES, I WANT TO FLY!".       
         "Fletcher Lynd Seagull, do you want to fly so much that you will       
         forgive the Flock, and learn, and go back to them one day and work to help       
         them know?"       
         There was no lying to this magniflcent skillful being, no matter how       
         proud or how hurt a bird was Fletcher Seagull.       
         "I do " he said softly.       
         "Then, Fletch," that bright creature said to him, and the voice was       
         very kind, "let's begin with Level Flight...."       
                    Part Three                
         Jonathan circled slowly over the Far Cliffs, watching. This rough       
         young Fletcher Gull was very nearly a perfect flight-student. He was       
         strong and light and quick in the air, but far and away more important, he       
         had a blazing drive to learn to fly.       
         Here he came this minute, a blurred gray shape roaring out of a dive,       
         flashing one hundred fifty miles per hour past his instructor. He pulled       
         abruptly into another try at a sixteen point vertical slow roll, calling       
         the points out loud.       
         "...eight... nine... ten... see-Jonathan-l'm-running-out-ofairspeed..       
         eleven... I-want-good-sharp-stops-like yours... twelve...       
         but-blast-it-Ijust-can't-make... - thirteen... theselast-three-points...       
         without... fourtee ...aaakk!"       
         Fletcher's whipstall at the top was all the worse for his rage and       
         fury at failing. He fell backward, tumbled, slammed savagely into an       
         inverted spin, and recovered at last, panting, a hundred feet below his       
         instructor's level.       
         "You're wasting your time with me, Jonathan! I'm too dumb! I'm too       
         stupid! I try and try, but I'll never get it!"       
         Jonathan Seagull looked down at him and nodded. "You'll never get it       
         for sure as long as you make that pullup so hard. Fletcher, you lost forty       
         miles an hour in the entry! You have to be smooth! Firm but smooth,       
         He dropped down to the level of the younger gull."Let's try it       
         together now, in formation. And pay attention to that pullup. It's a       
         smooth, easy entry."       
         By the end of three months Jonathan had six other students, Outcasts       
         all, yet curious about this strange new idea of flight for the joy of       
         Still, it was easier for them to practice high performance than it       
         was to understand the reason behindit.       
         "Each of us is in truth an idea of the Great Gull, an unlimited idea       
         of freedom," Jonathan would say in the evenings on the beach, "and       
         precision flying is a step toward expressing our real nature.Everything       
         that limits us we have to put aside. That's why all this high-speed       
         practice, and low speed, and aerobatics...."       
         ...and his students would be asleep, exhausted from the day's flying.       
         They liked the practice, because it was fast and exciting and it fed a       
         hunger for learning that grew with every lesson. But not one of them, not       
         even Fletcher Lynd Gull, had come to believe that the flight of ideas       
         could possibly be as real as the flight of wind and feather.       
         "Your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip," Jonathan would say, other       
         times, "is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see.       
         Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body,       
         too..." But no matter how he said it, it sounded like pleasant fiction,       
         and they needed more to sleep.       
         It was only a month later that Jonathan said the time had come to       
         return to the Flock.       
         "We're not ready!" said Henry Calvin Gull. "We're not welcome! We're       
         Outcast! We can't force ourselves to go where we're not welcome, can we?"       
         "We're free to go where we wish and to be what we are," Jonathan       
         answered, and he lifted from the sand and turned east, toward the home       
         grounds of the Flock.       
         There was brief anguish among his students, for it is the Law of the       
         Flock that an Outcast never returns, and the Law had not been broken once       
         in ten thousand years. The Law said stay; Jonathan said go; and by now he       
         was a mile across the water. If they waited much longer, he would reach a       
         hostile Flock alone.       
         "Well, we don't have to obey the law if we're not a part of the       
         Flock, do we?" Fletcher said, rather self-consciously. "Besides, if       
         there's a fight we'll be a lot more help there than here."'       
         And so they flew in from the west that morning, eight of them in a       
         double-diamond formation, wingtips almost overlapping. They came across       
         the Flock's Council Beach at a hundred thirty-five miles per hour,       
         Jonathan in the lead. Fletcher smoothly at his right wing, Henry Calvin       
         struggling gamely at his left. Then the whole formation rolled slowly to       
         the right, as one bird... level... to... inverted... to... level, the wind       
         whipping over them all.       
         The squawks and grockles of everyday life in the Flock were cut off       
         as though the formation were a giant knife, and eight thousand gull-eyes       
         watched, without a single blink. One by one, each of the eight birds       
         pulled sharply upward into a full loop and flew all the way around to a       
         dead-slow stand-up landing on the sand. Then as though this sort of thing       
         happened every day, Jonathan Seagull began his critique of the flight.       
         "To begin with," he said with a wry smile, "you were all a bit late       
         on the join-up..."       
         It went like lightning through the Flock. Those birds are Outcast!       
         And they have returned! And that... that can't happen! Fletcher's       
         predictions of battle melted in the Flock's confusion.       
         "Well sure, O.K. they're Outcast," said some of the younger gulls,       
         "but hey, man, where did they learn to fly like that?"       
         It took almost an hour for the Word of the Elder to pass through the       
         Flock: Ignore them. The gull who speaks to an Outcast is himself Outcast.       
         The gull who looks upon an Outcast breaks the Law of the Flock,       
         Gray-feathered backs were turned upon Jonathan from that moment onward,       
         but he didn't appear to notice. He held his practice sessions directly       
         over the Council Beach and for the first time began pressing his students       
         to the limit of their ability.       
         "Martin Gull!" he shouted across the sky. "You say you know low-speed       
         flying. You know nothing till you prove it! FLY!"       
         So quiet little Martin William Seagull, startled to be caught under       
         his instructor's fire, surprised himself and became a wizard of low       
         speeds. In the lightest breeze he could curve his feathers to lift himself       
         without a single flap of wing from sand to cloud and down again.       
         Likewise Charles-Roland Gull flew the Great Mountain Wind to       
         twenty-four thousand feet, came down blue from the cold thin air, amazed       
         and happy, determined to go still higher tomorrow.       
         Fletcher Seagull, who loved aerobatics like no one else, conquered       
         his sixteen point vertical slow roll and the next day topped it off with a       
         triple cartwheel, his feathers flashing white sunlight to a beach from       
         which more than one furtive eye watched.       
         Every hour Jonathan was there at the side of each of his students,       
         demonstrating, suggesting, pressuring, guiding. He flew with them through       
         night and cloud and storm, for the sport of it, while the Flock huddled       
         miserably on the ground.       
         When the flying was done, the students relaxed in the sand, and in       
         time they listened more closely to Jonathan. He had some crazy ideas that       
         they couldn't understand, but then he had some good ones that they could.       
         Gradually, in the night, another circle formed around the circle of       
         students a circle of curious gulls listening in the darkness for hours on       
         end, not wishing to see or be seen of one another, fading away before       
         It was a month after the Return that the first gull of the Flock       
         crossed the line and asked to learn how to fly. In his asking, Terrence       
         Lowell Gull became a condemned bird, labeled Outcast; and the eighth of       
         Jonathan's students.       
         The next night from the Flock came Kirk Maynard Gull, wobbling across       
         the sand, dragging his leftwing,to collapse at Jonathan's feet. "Help me,"       
         he said very quietly, speaking in the way that the dying speak. "I want to       
         fly more than anything else in the world..."       
         "Come along then." said Jonathan. "Climb with me away from the       
         ground, and we'll begin."       
         "You don't understand My wing. I can't move my wing."       
         "Maynard Gull, you have the freedom to be yourself, your true self,       
         here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.It is the Law of the Great       
         Gull, the Law that Is."       
         "Are you saying I can fly?"       
         "I say you are free."       
         As simply and as quickly as that, Kirk Maynard Gull spread his wings,       
         effortlessly, and lifted into the dark night air. The Flock was roused       
         from sleep by his cry, as loud as he could scream it, from five hundred       
         feet up: "I can fly! Listen! I CAN FLY!"       
         By sunrise there were nearly a thousand birds standing outside the       
         circle of students, looking curiously at Maynard. They didn't care whether       
         they were seen or not, and they listened, trying to understand Jonathan       
         He spoke of very simple things - that it is right for a guil to fly,       
         that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against       
         that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation       
         in any form.       
         "Set aside," came a voice from the multitude, "even if it be the Law       
         of the Flock?"       
         "The only true law is that which leads to freedom," Jonathan said.       
         "There is no other."       
         "How do you expect us to fly as you fly?" came another voice. "You       
         are special and gifted and divine, above other birds."       
         "Look at Fletcher! Lowell! Charles-Roland! Judy Lee! Are they also       
         special and gifted and divine? No more than you are, no more than I am.       
         The only difference, the very only one, is that they have begun to       
         understand what they really are and have begun to practice it."       
         His students, save Fletcher, shifted uneasily. They hadn't realized       
         that this was what they were doing.       
         The crowd grew larger every day, coming to question, to idolize, to       
         "They are saying in the Flock that if you are not the Son of the       
         Great Gull Himself," Fletcher told Jonathan one morning after Advanced       
         Speed Practice, "then you are a thousand years ahead of your time."       
         Jonathan sighed. The price of being misunderstood, he thought. They       
         call you devil or they call you god. "What do you think, Fletch? Are we       
         ahead of our time?"       
         A long silence. "Well, this kind of flying has always been here to be       
         learned by anybody who wanted to discover it; that's got nothing to do       
         with time. We're ahead of the fashion, maybe, Ahead of the way that most       
         gulls fly."       
         "That's something," Jonathan said rolling to glide inverted for a       
         while. "That's not half as bad as being ahead of our time."       
         It happened just a week later. Fletcher was demonstrating the       
         elements of high-speed flying to a class of new students. He had just       
         pulled out of his dive from seven thousand feet, a long gray streak firing       
         a few inches above the beach, when a young bird on its first flight glided       
         directly into his path, calling for its mother. With a tenth of a second       
         to avoid the youngster, Fletcher Lynd Seagull snapped hard to the left, at       
         something over two hundred miles per hour, into a cliff of solid granite.       
         It was, for him, as though the rock were a giant hard door into       
         another world. A burst of fear and shock and black as he hit, and then he       
         was adrift in a strange strange sky, forgetting, remembering, forgetting;       
         afraid and sad and sorry, terribly sorry.       
         The voice came to him as it had in the first day that he had met       
         Jonathan Livingston Seagull,       
         "The trick Fletcher is that we are trying to overcome our limitations       
         in order, patiently, We don't tackle flying through rock until a little       
         later in the program."       
         "Also known as the Son of the Great Gull " his instructor said dryly,       
         "What are you doing here? The cliff! Haven't I didn't I.., die?"       
         "Oh, Fletch, come on. Think. If you are talking to me now, then       
         obviously you didn't die, did you? What you did manage to do was to change       
         your level of consciousness rather abruptly. It's your choice now. You can       
         stay here and learn on this level - which is quite a bit higher than the       
         one you left, by the way - or you can go back and keep working with the       
         Flock. The Elders were hoping for some kind of disaster, but they're       
         startled that you obliged them so well."       
         "I want to go back to the Flock, of course. I've barely begun with       
         the new group!"       
         "Very well, Fletcher. Remember what we were saying about one's body       
         being nothing more than thought itself....?"       
         Fletcher shook his head and stretched his wings and opened his eyes       
         at the base of the cliff, in the center of the whole Flock assembled.       
         There was a great clamor of squawks and screes from the crowd when first       
         he moved.       
         "He lives! He that was dead lives!"       
         "Touched him with a wingtip! Brought him to life! The Son of the       
         Great Gull!"       
         "No! He denies it! He's a devil! DEVIL! Come to break the Flock!"       
         There were four thousand gulls in the crowd, frightened at what had       
         happened, and the cry DEVIL! went through them like the wind of an ocean       
         storm. Eyes glazed, beaks sharp, they closed in to destroy.       
         "Would you feel better if we left, Fletcher?" asked Jonathan.       
         "I certainly wouldn't object too much if we did..."       
         Instantly they stood together a half-mile away, and the flashing       
         beaks of the mob closed on empty air.       
         "Why is it," Jonathan puzzled, "that the hardest thing in the world       
         is to convince a bird that he is free, and that he can prove it for       
         himself if he'd just spend a little time practicing? Why should that be so       
         Fletcher still blinked from the change of scene. "What did you just       
         do? How did we get here?"       
         "You did say you wanted to be out of the mob, didn't you?"       
         "Yes! But how did you..."       
         "Like everything else, Fletcher. Practice." By morning the Flock had       
         forgotten its insanity, but Fletcher had not. "Jonathan, remember what you       
         said a long time ago, about loving the Flock enough to return to it and       
         help it learn?"       
         "I don't understand how you manage to love a mob of birds that has       
         just tried to kill you."       
         "Oh, Fletch, you don't love that! You don't love hatred and evil, of       
         course. You have to practice and see the real gull, the good in every one       
         of them, and to help them see it in themselves. That's what I mean by       
         love. It's fun, when you get the knack of it.       
         "I remember a fierce young bird for instance, Fletcher Lynd Seagull,       
         his name. Just been made Outcast, ready to fight the Flock to the death,       
         getting a start on building his own bitter hell out on the Far Cliffs. And       
         here he is today building his own heaven instead, and leading the whole       
         Flock in that direction."       
         Fletcher turned to his instructor, and there was a moment of fright       
         in his eye. "Me leading? What do you mean, me leading? You're the       
         instructor here. You couldn't leave!"       
         "Couldn't I? Don't you think that there might be other flocks, other       
         Fletchers, that need an instructor more than this one, that's on its way       
         toward the light?"       
         "Me? Jon, I'm just a plain seagull and you're... "       
         " ...the only Son of the Great Gull, I suppose?" Jonathan sighed and       
         looked out to sea. "You don't need me any longer. You need to keep finding       
         yourself, a little more each day, that real, unlimited Fletcher Seagull.       
         He's your in structor. You need to understand him and to practice him."       
         A moment later Jonathan's body wavered in the air, shimmering, and       
         began to go transparent. "Don't let them spread silly rumors about me, or       
         make me a god. O.K., Fletch? I'm a seagull. I like to fly, maybe..."       
         "Poor Fletch. 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'll see the way to fly."       
         The shimmering stopped. Jonathan Seagull had vanished into empty air.       
         After a time, Fletcher Gull dragged himself into the sky and faced a       
         brand-new group of students, eager for their first lesson.       
         "To begin with " he said heavily, "you've got to understand that a       
         seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull, and       
         your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip, is nothing more than your       
         thought itself."       
         The young gulls looked at him quizzically. Hey, man, they thought,       
         this doesn't sound like a rule for a loop.       
         Fletcher sighed and started over. "Hm. Ah... very well," he said, and       
         eyed them critically. "Let's begin with Level Flight." And saying that, he       
         understood all at once that his friend had quite honestly been no more       
         divine than Fletcher himself.       
         No limits, Jonathan? he thought. Well, then, the time's not distant       
         when I'm going to appear out of thin air on your beach, and show you a       
         thing or two about flying!       
         And though he tried to look properly severe for his students,       
         Fletcher Seagull suddenly saw them all as they really were, just for a       
         moment, and he more than liked, he loved what he saw. No limits, Jonathan?       
         he thought, and he smiled. His race to learn had begun.       

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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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