Thursday, November 18, 2010

Remembering Jonathan

My friend Lynette posted a haiku and photos today for the Poets United think tank prompt: wings. She referred to Jonathan Livingston Seagull and reminded me about how pivotal that book was to my own odyssey to the sea.

Back in the Day, when I first read Jonathan, I was on a quest for personal freedom, having already experienced a fair amount of oppression in my marriage. Then I saw the movie, sound track by Neil Diamond, and was blown away by the pulsating beat of the music, the mesmerizing beauty of the images on the screen, and the resonating truth of the words Jonathan was speaking. I didn't yet understand that I was an ocean person. That came two years later, when I was making a car trip around the province. The Rockies, the Interior, all were beautiful, or pretty or pleasant to pass through. But when we turned the nose of the car up the Sunshine Coast, a short ferry trip across from the Lower Mainland, I began to erupt like a geyser as we turned each bend and there before me was the forest, the rugged coastline.

Soon I lived there, right on the ocean, and that is another story. In less than a year, we had to leave, and before long I was inland, raising my kids alone in Kelowna. I began to collect ceramic seagulls. I hung photos and quotes on my walls. I even took up bicycling and pedalled way out of town to the dump where - oddly - there were inland seagulls. I yearned for the ocean all those years.

The man I most remember gifted me one Christmas with three life sized cement seagulls perched on a huge nubbly piece of driftwood. When one wing emerged from the wrappings, I flung myself at him and smothered him in  hugs and kisses. Those seagulls went with me everywhere and, finally, to the front porch of my trailer in Tofino. I left them there, where they belonged, when I had to leave.

I stopped collecting seagulls in Tofino. I didn't need them, they were all around me. I had the real thing. I remember one winter afternoon, when I was the only human walking the beach at Combers, gray sky lowering, and a seagull flew past low, right beside my shoulder. I felt like I was in an outtake of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and smiled to think what a long journey it had been, and to know I had finally - finally! - come home.

I had forgotten Jonathan for a while, immersed as I am in my rural existence. It is time to play that album again, time to watch the movie. Time to remember that time of all times in my life, when I lived the truth of Richard Bach's words. When I reached high, when I flew farther than I ever had before. When  once I soared.


  1. I have always liked Neil Diamond's "Longfellow Serenade." He's so not hip, I know. I don't care.

  2. Ha! My word verification was "sapho." It's a sign! ;-)

  3. Flying high certainly changes perspective! :)

  4. This piece gave me the shivers, Sherry, it so obviously came from your heart of hearts! I remember your seagull collections..and your absolute joy of life in Tofino. And I firmly believe you have never stopped soaring...your words and your spirit lift you up and take us along with you for the ride. You may not have gotten to stay by the ocean, but you clearly carry it with you in your soul...:)

  5. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, may his tribe increase with every passing day!

  6. I have his quote framed, showing two seagulls against a background of blue sky and cloud: "Perfect peace is the gift of love.....a love that grows ever brighter as we move toward the light." Sigh. Aint that the truth?:)

  7. Sherry,
    I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull ages ago, but can still remember reading as if it were yesterday.
    Moving toward the light is the only way. I also have a great book you might be interested if you haven't already read it. "Ghost Soldiers" by Hampton Sides. A fantastic read about the Bataan Death March in the Phillipines.

  8. Remember it well Sherry...wonderful book...bkm

  9. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is one of maybe three books that are still with me after many moves over the last three (or more) decades... The others are Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, also by Bach, and The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (in translation). I never get tired of reading them. And I agree, Neil Diamond's musical setting for JLS is special.

  10. Ah, I too enjoyed Jonathon Livingston Seagull, and perhaps it IS time to reread the book. I agree with Lynette that it was a post that came from the heart...and, pssst, you STILL have time to soar!


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