The Barbarian Book Club’s Book of The Month (August): Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach

Greetings Barbarians! Long days and pleasant nights!

I’ve never considered myself an optimist, but I do look for the silver lining in everything. Shit will always happen but don’t let that stop you from living life the fullest. Here on A Barbarian Gentlemen’s Clothing, we like to promote thriving in a world of volatility. There are countless feel-good books out there, but I’d be honest with you – only a few knew what they’re talking about. While it is only right to enjoy life, it is also true that you make your meaning, happiness, and betterment. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is one of a few fantasy books that expresses what I’m talking about.

I discovered this gem in one of my excursions with Pancake. The local mall is having a book sale, it only cost me 8.00 Philippine Peso (18 cents USD). Dirt cheap for books, the catch is you must dig through piles of books and fish out anything you like. We had fun digging for books and got lucky enough to take home some great books, including an Emerson. I prefer used books than new ones, it possesses a distinct character that makes it unique. I like to go through the same pages the previous owner went through. Much like people, each fold, crease, and imperfection give a book its character.

I may not seek perfection upon myself, but I do seek progress and try to be a better version of myself. A friend told me that for an easy-going guy, I am a bit hard on myself. While yes, that may be true; I also believe in challenging myself. A dull knife has no place in any kitchen, as it could do more harm than good. Challenges for a man is a means of keeping him sharp. Sure, a knife can wear thin from getting sharpened over and over again but that’s better than being useless. Another reason why men should be more selective of their endeavors, that or having a bigger blade.

Written by Richard Bach and illustrated by Russell Munson and published in 1970 – Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a novella about a seagull and his passion for flight. The book reached critical success with a million-copy printed, becoming a best seller. It became part of the self-help and positivity culture making it a spiritual classic. The story revolves around a seagull named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Bored with the life of a seagull, he became engulfed by his passion for flying. He spends most of his time challenging himself with daring feats. He became unwilling to conform to his flock, raising the ire of the seagulls and resulted in his eviction. Alone, he continued his pursuit of flight. Breaking through his every goal but found out that he can no longer fly any higher. It was during this period, that he met seagulls who are willing to mentor him. He became part of a flock of other seagulls who enjoyed flying and became an apprentice of a skilled mentor. With his hard work and experience, he chooses to become a mentor himself. He returns to his old flock to share his newfound philosophy – and to forgive them for his banishment.

A man’s life is of service, what can I do for you matters for me. Much like the book’s main character, I could be of much greater service to my others if I were a better version of myself. A “sharper” I allow me to become a better citizen, friend, son, and father. While yes, I may have worn thin from the past but that also allowed me to grow and at the same time sharper. The challenges I faced led me to a path of my enlightenment that is not forced upon.

I’d recommend this book to those who seem to forget their passion and grown due to their obligations. Don’t let the everyday grind kill you and allow yourself to prosper. It may sound counter-intuitive but, your growth is not only for your benefit but also of others. Be the best you could be and do it now while you still can. Never shy away from any hardship that may come your way. Find ways to invest in yourself.

To courage and freedom, and flight.

“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.” 
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

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