When I began to do research for this piece, I quickly realized that Jonathan Livingston Seagull had been reviewed to death. My fallback position (Plan B) was to discuss some of Richard Bach’s sayings. Even that has been overdone. Now I am just going to share what his words have meant to me over the years since I started reading his books in 1970.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Seagulls are a nuisance. They are everywhere. They scavenge through landfill sites and tear up garbage bags in their constant search for food. They make a lot of noise, too. In many ways, they are a lot like humans.
Richard Bach liked to fly his airplane. Most, if not all, of his books use flight as a metaphor for trying to advance from, and get above, ‘ordinary’ life.
I was skeptical when I first read this book. After all, who puts spiritual truth in the mouths of foul creatures like these? But slowly, slowly I began to see what (or should I say ‘who’?) he was aiming at: the ordinary Joe.
The subsequent film was a disappointment for me. Sure, with Jonathan in flight, there could be no better cinematography, but the other scenes were tedious and boring, especially when he was around other ‘unenlightened’ birds. I guess that was the point entirely.
The soundtrack was something else again.
The theme of spiritual searching seems to have inspired Neil Diamond to write some of his best songs. Here is “Be”:
In 1985, I was inspired to write my own ‘bird’ poem, Flight of a Canada Goose. Where Richard Bach had a Livingston(e), I had a Stanley. The truth however is that I, personally, was wanting to soar like an eagle, but I was more stuck on earth than his creature.
It took years of searching to find come back to this one simple point: