Qualities Needed To Stand Out In A Crowd

This is a story of a special sea gull named Jonathan Livingstone who wanted to do something different from the normal sea gulls.



  • Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight- how to get from shore to food and back again. For them it is not flying that matters but eating. But Jonathan was different.He loved to fly. Even his parents were dismayed that he spent whole days alone making hundreds of low level glides, experimenting.image
  • By way off alone, out by himself, beyond the shore Jonathan Livingstone seagull was practicing. A hundred feet in the sky, he strained to hold a painful hard twisting curve through his wings. He narrowed his eyes in fierce concentration held his breath, forced one single more inch of curve. Then his feathers ruffled, he stalled and fell. But Jonathan was unashamed, stretching his wings again in that trembling hard curve. He was no ordinary bird. He wanted to do something different which his heart desired.image
  • When he did all these his mother used to say' why John why?''Why is it so hard for you to be like the rest of the flocks?' Why can't you leave low flying to the pelicans, the albatross? Why don't you eat?image
  • His father said, see here Jonathan, winter isn't far away. Boats will be few, and the surface fish will be swimming deep. If you must study, then study food, and how to get it. This flying business is all very well, but you can't eat a glide. Don't forget that the reason you fly is to eat.
  • Jonathan tried to follow his parents words obediently for some time. Then he felt, all these activities so pointless. He wanted to spend all this time to learn flying. There is so much to learn.image
  • Jonathan wanted to do power drives which sea gulls cannot do. He tried innumerable times, when he flew at great speed, but burst into churning mass of feathers, out of control, crashing down into the sea.
  • Dripping wet he realized that he needs to flap wings for some distance and then hold the wings still. It took tremendous strength but it worked. Jonathan had set a world speed record for sea gulls.image
  • But victory was short lived. The instant he began his pull out, the instant he changed the angle of his wings, he snapped and fell at 90 miles an hour and hit the brick hard sea. When he regained consciousness, , he was floating on the surface, his wings ragged bars of lead, but the weight of failure even was even heavier. A hollow voice sounded within him that it is no place for a gull. The place for seagull is near the shore. He vowed that he would henceforth behave like a normal gull.
  • Just then another voice within him said how is it I am flying at night, while sea gulls never fly in the dark.
  • The voice within him again said, to fly in the dark you need to have the eyes of an owl, and falcon's short wings. There in the night, a hundred feet in the air Jonathan blinked.image
  • He forgot all his previous vows. He brought his forewings tightly into his body and fell into a vertical dive. The wing- strain now at a hundred and forty miles per hour wasn't nearly as difficult because of this new discovery.
  • He was alive trembling with delight. He rose higher and by the time he passed 4000 ft., he had reached terminal velocity at 214 miles per hour. The speed he just achieved was power, joy and pure beauty. It was a breakthrough. Flying out of his lonely practice area, folding his wings for a dive he also discovered how to turn. Jonathan was the 1st gull to do aerobatics on earth. He discovered the loop, the slow roll, the point roll, the inverted spin, the gull bunt, the pinwheel.
  • When Jonathan returned home, he was terribly tired but was wild with excitement. He felt that every gull would be wild with joy. Instead of their drab life near fishing boat, we can now fly freely.
  • When Jonathan landed, all other gulls were gathered into the council gathering. 'Jonathan stand at the center, the elder's voice sounded firmly. Stand to center meant only great shame or great honor. Jonathan expected great honor for the feat he had achieved. He said to himself, ' I want no honors, I have no wish to be a leader. I want to share with all what all I have learnt.'
  • The voice of elder again called loudly. Jonathan, stand to center for shame in the sight of your fellow gulls.
  • It felt like being hit with a board. His knees went weak, his feather sagged. Impossible. The breakthrough. They can't understand. They're wrong, they're wrong.
  • 'For the reckless irresponsibility,' violating the dignity and tradition of the gull family.
  • To be center for shame meant that he would be cast out of gull society., Banished to a solitary life on the far cliff.
  • A seagull never speaks back to the council flock, but it was Jonathan's voice raised. ' Who are more responsible than a gull who finds and follows a meaning, a higher purpose for life? For a thousand years, we have scrabble after fish heads, but now we have a reason to live- to learn, to discover, to be free. Give me one chance,' let me show you what I've found.'
  • Such an outburst was just not tolerated. 'The brotherhood is broken', the gulls intoned together, and with one accord they solemnly closed their ears and turned their backs upon him.
  • Jonathan completely dejected, flew way out beyond the far cliffs. His one sorrow was not solitude, it was that other gulls refused to believe the glory of flight that awaited them.
  • He learned more each day. He learned that a streamlined high speed dive could bring him to find the rare and tasty fish that schooled ten feet below the surface of the ocean. He no longer needed fishing boats and stale bread for survival.
  • Jonathan learned to sleep in the air, setting a course at night across the offshore wind, covering a hundred miles from sunset to sunrise. With the same inner control, he flew through heavy sea fog, learned to ride the high winds far inland, to dine on delicate insects.
  • As Jonathan was gliding alone in the sky, he met 2 new gulls. They did the same tactics along with him. ' We're from your flock Jonathan. We've come to take you higher, to take you home.'
  • 'Home I have none. I am an outcast'. ' No said the gulls. One school is finished, and the time has come for another to begin.'
  • To this Jonathan said' dear friends, 'I am ready.'
  • And Jonathan seagull rose with the 2 star bright gulls to disappear into the perfect dark sky.
  • In the days that followed, Jonathan learned that there was as much to learn.
  • About flight in this place as there have been in the life behind him but with a difference.
  • Here were gulls who thought as he thought. They were magnificent birds, all of them, and they spent hour after hour everyday practicing flight, testing advanced aeronautics. 
  • As the days went past, Jonathan found himself thinking time and again of the earth from which he had come. He fell to wondering if there was a gull back there who might be struggling to break out of his limits. Perhaps there might even have been one made outcast for speaking his truth in the face of the flock.
  • And the more Jonathan practiced his kindness and love increased. He wanted to go back. He was a born instructor. Jonathan wanted to show them the heaven that he had achieved.image
  • It was only a month later that Jonathan said to his students that the time had come to return to the flock. To this the students cried ,' we will not be welcomed. We are outcast. We can't force ourselves to go where we're not welcome'. To this he replied that 'we are free to go where we wish and to be what we are.' He lifted from the sand and turned east, towards home grounds of the flock. And so they flew in a double diamond formation.
  • They came across the flock's council beach at tremendous speed. One by one, all of them flew to a dead slow landing on the sand.
  • It went like lightning. How can outcast birds return. 'Well, ok, they may be outcast' said the younger gulls, but where on earth did they learn to fly like that?'
  • It took sometime for the word of the elder to pass through the flock.' Ignore them' the gull who speaks to an outcast is himself an outcast.
  • Jonathan appeared not to notice anything. He held his practice session directly over the council beach.
  • Every hour Jonathan was there at the side of each of his students, demonstrating, suggesting, pressurizing, guiding.
  • Gradually, in the night, another circle formed around the circle of curious gulls listening in the darkness for hours on end, not wishing to see or be seen of one another, fading away before daybreak.
  • It was a month after their return that the 1st gull of the flock crossed the line and asked to learn to fly. Next day another one cried 'help me, I want to fly more than anything else in the world. By sunrise there were nearly a thousand birds standing outside the circle of students.
  • Jonathon said, it is right for every gull to fly. That freedom is the very nature of his being. Whatever stands against that freedom, must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.
  • With time, Jonathan called one of the gulls named Fletcher seagull to his side and said 'you will lead this flock to freedom, to fly freely. Fletcher turned to Jonathan and there was a moment of fright in his eyes. 'Me leading? You're the instructor here'. Please don't leave us.
  • 'Why not'. Don't you think that there might be other flocks, that need an instructor more than you all. You are already on your way to light.
  • Fletcher his first student was too dumbfounded . He dragged himself into the sky and faced a brand new group of students, eager for first time lesson.
  • Fletcher tried to look a bit severe to his students. Then suddenly realized Jonathan's words.
  • He suddenly started seeing them all as they really were. Curious to fly to freedom.
  • He smiled to himself. His race to learning and transferring whatever he had learnt had begun.
  • In your career/ day to day life you may have come across persons who stood apart due to their perseverance and will power to bring some change in their life or in the life of others. Can you describe such an individual/ incident.

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Do you have any type of pointers for writing articles? That's where I always struggle as well as I just finish up gazing vacant screen for very long time.




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