I found Jonathan Livingston Seagull in a bookshelf I don’t look at too frequently. I had no idea I had the book and imagine it probably came from my father. I had read it when I was about 10 years old and absolutely loved it then. It’s a very short little book so I decided to read it again.
I didn’t like it so much 36 years later. Not sure if that means I’m getting cynical in my old age, or what. It irritated me. Of course, I haven’t been feeling well and life hasn’t been looking particularly rosy or hopeful, so maybe it is cynicism that caused the irritation.
Once upon a time, life seemed like it was about achieving your full-potential, becoming all that you can be and not letting the nuisances of every day life or the banality of normal societal existence keep you down. But I’m 46 years old and have watched untold numbers of friends take huge nose dives while trying to achieve untold heights. Several walked out on their spouses and children seeking a more “meaningful” lifestyle and didn’t find it. Another friend ended up completely bankrupt and reliant upon whomever would take him in because he was certain that by creating the company of his dreams, he’d become a millionaire. Maybe it finally happened, but I doubt it. And even if it did happen, did it contain the meaning he expected?
I do think you should go after what it is you want to do. But at what cost? If Cognitive Psychologists are correct, then what makes us genuinely happy is ordinary stuff like family and friends, not extraordinary achievement. Richard Bach left his wife and six children because he decided he didn’t believe in marriage. I don’t believe in marriage, either, but I think there is a lot to be said for commitment.
A lot of people claim Jonathan Livingston Seagull is about transcending the ego. I don’t read it that way at all. Chasing after your desires is all about ego. Of course, there is also a lot to be said for flying for the sake of flying, eating for the sake of eating, raising children for the sake of raising children, and loving for the sake of loving. I’m just not convinced you need to leave the ordinary things of this world, like spouses and children, in order to be extraordinary.
Speaking of leaving children, we have yet another vagabond teen staying in our home tonight. This is the third kid we have taken in who has been kicked out of his house this year! I seriously don’t get it. If your child violently assaults you or someone in your home, throw him out. But if he comes home stoned or talks back or something like that, please figure out a more adult way to deal with it!! Throwing him out on the streets is guaranteed to make him worse, not better. If you aren’t expecting him to be homeless because you know he’ll likely find a decent place to stay, just know that most of us have our own struggles and don’t really want to have to take on yours, too.
Sorry! I’m just grumpy because I’m not doing much soaring, lately. I haven’t been feeling well. Not sure what is wrong with me.