I came across another of many seagull photos from my trip to Australia in February and March of this year. It doesn’t matter where I am, I’m usually making images. I travel a lot for work and the contents of this blog reflect that. But whether I’m far from home or restlessly awaiting my next trip, I’m almost always photographing. I look for excuses to get in the car and drive somewhere new, even if it’s just down the road a short way. Simple, everyday moments like this are all around us, near or far. I get a lot of joy just searching for them.
“He put on a little knapsack and he walked through Indiana and Kentucky and North Carolina and Georgia clear to Florida. He walked among farmers and mountain people, among swamp people and fishermen. And everywhere people asked him why he was walking through the country.
Because he loved true things he tried to explain. He said he was nervous and besides he wanted to see the country, smell the ground and look at grass and birds and trees, to savor the country, and there was no other way to do it save on foot.”
― John Steinbeck, Cannery Row
I’ve been back in Buffalo for one week now. It’s Saturday, the first day I’ve had a chance to really relax since my return and I’ve been spending some time going through the photos I took on my trip.
I shot this image on my last night in Newcastle. The next day I took the train to Sydney where I rested my head in an airport hotel before my flight home the following morning. This picture reminds me of the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. My grandfather gave it to me to read on a flight from Omaha to Seattle to visit with him and his wife one summer when I was 15. He said it would be a quick, yet inspirational read for my travels. Although it spent almost 40 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list when it originally came out, the book, written by Richard Bach, received mixed reviews and several critics found it to be a little naive. Even so, I enjoyed it when I was 15. And I often think of it when I encounter seagulls in my travels or near my home in Buffalo which is close to Lake Erie.
I found this fantastic (and ridiculous) review of the book that really gets at the heart of why I still think of Jonathan Livingston Seagull fondly:
An animal fantasy about a philosophical gull who is profoundly affected by flying, but who demands too much of his community and is cast out by it. He becomes an extremely well behaved accursed wanderer, then dies, and in post-humous FANTASY sequences—though he is too wise really to question the fact of death, and too calmly confident to have doubts about his continuing upward mobility&—he learns greater wisdom. Back on Earth, he continues to preach and heal and finally returns to heaven, where he belongs. – John Clute, for The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
“Why is it that the hardest thing in the world is to convince a bird that he is free, and that he can prove it for himself if he’d just spend a little time practicing? Why should that be so hard?”
– Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach