Have you ever read a book that totally transformed your life? Yeah. Me too. Thank goodness for books.
Once in a while the book that changes everything is one that your teacher made you read. Oh yes. The book that shook the very foundation of my life was given as assignment by my 6th grade teacher.
Mr. Biehner made us do lots of stuff: expand our vocabularies, learn how to organize notes, spell correctly... and he also made us read Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
These days if you need to expand your vocab you can just visit dictionary.com. Have organization issues? Use any one of a zillion online organizers or open the myriad of options that came standard on your phone or computer. Suck at spelling? Voila - spell check.
Wondering how to get beyond the things that seem to limit you from having a great life? Read a novella about a strange bird who leads a very different life.
At 41 I can't tell you how many times I've popped open the little book. Jonathan Livingston Seagull never loses its magic and continues to influence my life. Each read leaves me inspired, empowered, and feeling much less wrong about me.
I tend to dig it out of my now scant library after I've been peering over the edge of a cliff for far too long and I'm cold and hungry and tired and sore and scared that if I jump I'll most likely spat. I usually open the worn pages when my voice doesn't seem to work any more and I'm frozen with fear about what to do and where to go next.
And each time I read about my favorite bird I know that living without limitation is possible. I know that all the freedom I seek can start to show up once I unclaw myself from the ledge and let wind and gravity and current sweep me into the air.
Jonathan strives. Against the squawking crowd that make up his peers and even against flock elders who warn him to scrape for scraps of food, this very special seagull never settles into survival as the end all be all of life. Nor should any of us.
The feathered protagonist always wonders how to get better: better at flying; better at gliding; better at rolling and dipping and skimming the ocean's surface with elegance; better at letting go of resistance and allowing the wind to increase his speed. Jonathan even learns to sleep afloat.
At home, he's berated. He's teased. He's cast out of the flock for being a seeker. Food doesn't even matter to Jon. What he hungers for is speed. He chases perfection. Even when he's exhausted and it seems like his body might break into an explosion of feathers and bones, Jonathan keeps going. Alone, he masters each tilt, each subtlety, and each nuance that adds more and more speed and glory and ease to his flights.
Jonathan reminds me over and again to be a leader. To let go of those who doubt that something better is possible and he teaches me to always strive for greatness. He transcends every limitation that, for generations, his flock has tolerated.
Limitless living... The invitation. The whisper. The possibility.
It's a choice only you can make.
Lit and Comp teacher gone rogue, disguised now as a Living and Relationship Coach, Body Worker, and Access Consciousness Facilitator, I still sneak off to write because, well, it makes me come alive and it's one of the joyful ways I create the future.