Jonathan Livingston Seagull is about the universal human need for finding one’s voice and helping others to find theirs. It is about being true to ourselves and to our true nature, and always striving for excellence and growth.
The main character is a seagull that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the Flock. Instead of scrambling for food like the rest of the seagulls, he prefers and chooses to learn all he can about flying. This gets him into trouble and sets him on a journey of self-discovery, growth and enlightenment.
The book is set in the natural habitat of seagulls, the beach and the sky. Jonathan spends most of his time high in the sky, perfecting his flying skills while the other seagulls are mostly on the beach or not very far from the beach, fighting for food. As the story progresses, time and space lose meaning. All that is left is the “Here and Now”. Jonathan is able to speak via telepathy and travels at the speed of thought.
The simplicity of the book does not take away but rather adds to the beauty of the story. Included in the book are photographs taken by Russell Munson, who like Richard Bach, is a flying enthusiast. The photographs add another dimension to the story, making it stick in the mind long after the last page has been read.
I thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Livingston Seagull because it touches on things that my generation is going through. The need to reconcile finding daily meaning with finding daily bread is a constant source of conflict for many of us. The message contained in the book is that our highest priority is to be the very best we can be, and not someone else’s idea of what we should be. In the end, Jonathan emerges triumphant and this gives us hope that if we persevere, we too will succeed.