When people give me a false label, I’m usually offended. Thus, I find being called “perfect” almost as offensive as being called “ugly.”
“It’s strange. The gulls who scorn perfection for the sake of travel go nowhere, slowly. Those who put aside travel for the sake of perfection go anywhere, instantly.”-Chiang
Another tidbit from Jonathan Livingston Seagull that I just had to put up. If you extend this metaphor to humans, you can find it to be quite true. I think of Olympic athletes especially, when I consider this quote; Olympians train relentlessly to perfect their athletic craft and end up seeing much more of the world than an average person as a result.
“‘Well, what happens from here? Where are we going? Is there no such place as heaven?'”
‘No Jonathan, there is no such place. Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect.’ He was silent for a moment. ‘You are a very fast flier, aren’t you?’
‘I… I enjoy speed,’ Jonathan said, taken aback but proud that the Elder had noticed.
‘You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.’ Without warning, Chiang vanished and appeared at the water’s edge fifty feet away, all in the flicker of an instant. Then he vanished again and stood, in the same millisecond, at Jonathan’s shoulder. ‘It’s kind of fun,’ he said.”
This passage is a good encapsulation of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story about a seagull who wanted to learn more about flight and sought to master the art instead of simply foraging for food like an ordinary seagull. I just read this story today, not knowing what to expect at first, and, wow… I really didn’t see this coming in a book about an anthropomorphic seagull. It was one of those books that came off as a children’s book, but in order to really appreciate the book, you’d have to be a bit older. There are many works of art that are like that, I think. I definitely recommend this book for a read. However, I will warn you though: you’ll need to suspend your belief for quite a bit before you get to the juicy tidbits of this literary gem. Don’t dismiss the book on the basis that you read the first twenty pages. It’s a short book, it gets good, trust me. You’ll love me forever.