Recently I found a treasure. Hidden away in the attic of Avery’s late aunt I came across a pile of framed screen prints from the 1960s. Very mid-century modern. Bright colors. Abstract shapes. Hand-drawn lettering. Inspirational messages of the day, like this one: Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.
But the real find, buried beneath the stack of long-ago forgotten things was the unframed print in the photo above. This one caught my attention. The saying is from the book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach.
“Look with your understanding and find out what you already know and you’ll see the way to fly.”
In case you’re not familiar with the book*, it’s a tale about a seagull named Jonathan Livingston, who is disheartened by the passionless lives that all the other seagulls around him seem to accept as the normal way of being.
He notices that although his seagull friends can fly, they choose to simply do the bare minimum to survive…
“Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight - how to get from shore to food and back again”
Jonathan Livingston starts pursuing his passions (namely to master the art of flying) and as a result, his seagull community (who expect him to be normal like them) push him out of the flock. His family is ashamed of him and his pursuits for a better life leave him feeling very alone.
But soon, he meets a wise mentor— a gull who teaches him the great skills of flying. He realizes his learning to become a better flyer is the freedom that gives his life meaning.
Eventually Jonathan returns to his community and becomes a mentor for a young gull named Fletcher, before moving on and sharing his passion for flight and freedom with other flocks around the world.
The story is rich with vivid metaphor and timeless lessons.
“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.”
“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 hard?”
This one too:
“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.”
. . .
The personal transformation we all go through on a the More Heart weight loss journey is similar to Jonathan Seagull’s.
- There’s a calling deep inside of us that whispers, “I want a better life.”
- We discover that in order to escape the status quo, we have to learn new skills, and practice those skills regularly.
- We discover we really can do hard things.
- Often, our personal transformations take as far away from our original tribe because many people will not be ready to go on the journey with us and won’t see the value of making remarkable changes.
- It’s sometimes difficult and lonely work. It requires persistence and a belief that you can create a better life.
- Having a mentor teach you new skills can be very useful.
- Once you’ve mastered new skills that make your own life better, it can be a wonderful to pay it forward and teach others.
. . .