On what fiction teaches us

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One of the first things children are taught to do in their formative years is to read more books. Schools generally provide them with a list of books that could be fun, informative or essential to their growing up into better people.


One such book is “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach.


In a flock full of seagulls fighting for food and not doing much else, Jonathan was different. He wanted to improve his flying. Never satisfied with himself, he tried and tried until he reached his highest speed the perfect speed.


Jonathan’s journey from a helpless, low-talent, desperate bird to his discovery of perfect speed is inspiring in many ways and considerably reflects our own extraordinary journeys of self-discovery.


We can relate to Jonathan’s aerobatics by considering our own day-to-day struggles for achieving happiness through various means, be it the preparation for the next exam, or doing the laundry to get warm, toasty blankets.


When Jonathan finds his teacher, Fletcher, I see this as the rediscovery of our inner spirit. Fletcher does for Jonathan what a mentor does for us: cajoling, guiding and making us understand our capabilities and limitations, and then standing aside proudly and watching with a glow in his eyes as we discover perfect speed. Here, “perfect speed” is knowing that we are there already knowing that we can do what it takes to achieve our goals, if only we put our minds to it.


Similarly, another popular children’s book which can be entertaining even for adults is “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a French writer and aviator. In his story, there are recurring themes of keeping the childish spirit of discovery alive.

During the Little Prince’s adventures, he comes across various adults from other planets. In a way, the people inhabiting those six small planets are what we can become as adults narrow-minded, busy and uncaring of the world around us.


It also has advice about love from a fox, childishly genuine sayings from the Prince and a whole lot of positive advice on life in general.


Despite essentially being written for kids, these books have deep meanings that can really help us cheer up and be better in our daily lives. So, be sure to find your inner Fletcher seagull or stand underneath the stars, sometimes.


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On what fiction teaches us