When I was a little girl, the only religious teachings I can remember were those from the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull that my mom used to read to me at bedtime. At that time in my life, the book felt mind-numbingly boring to me - a then 4 or 5 year old little girl. But try as she might to give us some spiritual guidance, it just wasn't getting in.
Or at least so I thought.
Honestly, the book is a really interesting fable of a seagull bored by life's conformity and the daily grind of finding food. He needed more out of life and for him, flying was his passion. Unlike the others scrounging for food, all he wanted to do was to soar easefully above the clouds. He was a different soul - an outcast in a world that just didn't fit him.
As this little seagull soars to new heights, he transcends some of these earthly ideals and finds himself in a higher level of existence. As he climbs higher in the book, he climbs closer to his true self, and closer to his purpose.
My mom and I rarely spoke of religion or God. We didn't speak of setting goals or moving into a higher level of anything. But somehow, this book - despite my toddler sized boredom with hearing her reading it each night at bedtime - is something I have returned to in my life over and over again. Maybe it made an impression on mebecause it was so significant to her. Or maybe it's message of pushing boundaries somehow seeped into my being. Regardless of how it got there, somehow it got in. And to this day, this book something I refer to time and time again.
Out of anyone in our little family, I veered off all the prescribed paths. I did the unexpected. I kept trying to be the person the world expected me to be, but it never quite fit - like a pair of tight underwear, it just wasn't comfortable on me.
So away I fly (in my own plane, as my brother-in-law says to me all the time). Up in the sky. Working hard each day at being the person nobody expects me to be. But just seeing the world below from this deep and endless blue sky.
"You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way."