Tell me, do you have a list of your favourite things?
Yeah, I know how it goes: “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens”. Very good, but listen, I mean…not the clothes you bought this season, that you’ll wear and wear, then replace as the new fashions arrive. Not a meal you’re cooking a lot at the moment but are soon to be bored by. They’re like, what’s trending now. Passing fads.
No, I’m asking about things you’ve collected down the years of your life so far. Things that will still be there when all else has withered away. Have a think for a moment.
All this said, it won’t surprise you to hear that I have such a list, things I return to over and over. Music has always been a life force for me so it will again be of no surprise if you find some albums in the bag. Seventh Sojourn by the Moody Blues, Focus Live At The Rainbow and more recently, All The Little Lights by Passenger. Then, when I’m cooking I have my favourite knives, built up over years and treated with respect. There’s the favourite that was a favourite a long time before I owned it, my Harley.
And then there are books. Always books. Books mapping back through years of life. Like a collection of old friends and mentors. Sage ones, amusing ones, ones with pictures and the ones I climb into when I need to escape. I have a very eclectic collection.
Amongst these is one I read in a couple of hours and reread and reread. Jonathon Livingston Seagull (JLS) by Richard Bach. Have you read this? Indeed, to enter your adult years and not have read it would surely be indicative of a misspent youth. What parent would permit a child to exit adolescence without first hand knowledge of this?
But in fear that you might have skipped class on the day you should have read this, JLS is a parable about, you guessed, a seagull. But Jon is not just any seagull he’s like, a flying Buddha who, realising the repetitious meaninglessness of life in the flock, seeks a better, higher way, turning the mundane act of flying into a higher form of life. Of course, having become very different from the flock he is rejected and cast out. So the tale goes on until Jon reaches enlightenment, leaving this world with the words: “Keep working on love”.
So, why is Jon Boy such a favourite?
Well the book never fails to talk to me as I find a kindred spirit flying through the pages. The idea that there is more, so much more, to life than the cycle of work, eat, sleep to which it is all too easy to succumb and far too difficult to break from, speaks to me. The possibility of excellence in this life captures my thoughts and fires my intentions. The signpost to higher consciousness begs my indulgence.
Again the question “why?”.
Well, by way of explanation I once heard Clint Eastwood asked what made his cowboy films so successful? He replied that he believed that in most of us there is a need to identify with the nameless cowboy. The enigmatic stranger who rides in and rights wrongs, then drifts away. The free spirit who bucks routine, rules and the normality of life and refuses to submit.
And that’s Jonathon. Not the situation justifying gunslinger but every bit the challenger of the status quo seeking to bring in a better future. For me it is that belief that there is a better, higher world, a world more real, more pulsing with life and meaning.
Give me wings to fly
Tell me why, tell me why
The answer must be heard
And from a lonely bird
He’s giving us a reason to believe
Jonathon by Barclay James Harvest
So I return to Jon when I need to be reminded that this is not “it”. That each of us was born, created, called forth (you choose) for far more than we currently experience. Are you content to be a part of the flock’s daily round trip to the fishing boats to peck out an existence and then back to beach? Or are you prepared to embrace the solitude brought about by other’s misunderstanding as you push the limits of your being?
Big questions. Maybe now you understand something about my favourites and what they can do for me.
Yours, testing my wings,