Please do not repost!
Once, I was on an ocean liner for a cruise vacation. It was late at night; I couldn’t sleep, and had nothing better to do. So I stepped out onto the balcony off my berth for some fresh air and for the ‘night scene”.
The so-called night scene was but a pitch black stretch of horizon. Out in the Pacific Ocean, late at night? What’s there to see? Only the lights from the ship itself, and the churned waves nonchalantly breaking into big and small frothy white foams against the ship! Gazing! Gazing! What was there to see?
In the heart of an ocean, the winds were gusty, and chilly too; the feeling was of utmost solitariness and desolation! Suddenly, out there, drifted a speck of brightness! Not a reflection of a light or a spirit. Looking closely, it was a seagull!
Haha! My homeless gaze finally found a foothold to land on. I watched the seagull followed the ship at a rhythmic pace. Sometimes ahead, sometimes behind; occasionally flapping vigorously its wings, occasionally extending its wings and gliding gracefully; framed within the boundless ocean, it appeared aloof and proud!
Suddenly, I felt an urge to converse with it!
“Seagull, in this cold, dark night, flying all alone by yourself, where are you headed to? I’m going to reach Japan tomorrow. How about this? Don’t overly tire yourself by flying nonstop. Why don’t you rest for a while on the deck? Get a goodnight sleep. When day breaks, you’ll be ashore. Don’t worry, if the cruise ship charges you fare, I’ll pay for you!”
Not sure if the seagull actually understood what I said, but it appeared affronted. Slowly, it took off and flew farther and farther away, becoming smaller and smaller, smaller and dimmer. Finally it disappeared into the darkness. Seeing it disappearing, a sense of loss crept into my heart.
I continued to stand on the balcony, gazing out at sea. Suddenly, I couldn’t help but laugh aloud….
My wishful thinking had me feel that it was lonely and weary, as such, stirred my desire to take it onto shore. It declined, and so, I felt a loss! Oh please! It’s a seagull; as the name denotes, it is a gull out at sea. If forcibly taken onto the shore, won’t it become a “landgull” instead? Moreover, did it tell me it was lonely, or that it was weary? This was purely my wishful thinking, did it agree to it? And so, gazing and pondering, just like that, an hour or so had flown by! Feeling weary now, I might as well go to bed!
Before nodding off, I looked out at the balcony, and in my heart, said, “Seagull, you’d accompanied and played with me for an hour, thank you!” pp 62-63
Steven-ma.org fans' reviews/comments
Reposted my 2008 comments asianfanatics.net post 661
My initial feel for Land Gull.
Many layers to this prose:-
The simple but precise words painted vivid scenes:
- The feel of chill, of gusty winds, and of the sound of ocean waves.
- The stillness and tranquility of the night broken only by the crashing waves.
- the companionship of solitary man and bird,
- Solitary silhouettes but not lonesome
- author exudes inner peace and compassion to others, be it a bird.
Deeper meaning - Analogy:
2 different species (different people) connect -
enjoying each other’s company and goodwill without saying a word
One reaching out, being presumptuous; the other declining, being aloof.
Respect and enjoyment of different viewpoints.
One person’s meant well offer is not always accepted or even good for the recipient.
Steven as writer:
Waxes poetic, compassionate, empathetic, imaginative and sentimental,
And definitely an insomniac who enjoys solitude and own company.
Tamaya Posted 13 October 2008 - 12:43 PM
Steven fans' take on the essay which I thought was quite perceptive - some I agree some I don't.
---bird and man == analogy about society/person pressuring another to conform
---the bird is the personification of Steven himself.
1) like bird, he wishes to fly free, proud and unencumbered.
2) like bird, he's flying alone and proud, but where to?? He has resting stops but no home in sight. Why is the gull flying and where is it going? Where is Steven heading to, when is he going to find what he's looking for?
---gull/man transient meeting is liken to his "you yuan wu fen" transient love relationship, predestined to meet and part . Or an unrequited love for someone.
---the loneliness in Steven is exposed because he finds it easier to speak his thoughts to a bird who won't judge him. Lonely bird flying over lonely man in a lone ship drifting on a vast sea.
--- that the solitude of night and the vastness of the sea only served to accentuate Steven's loneliness and outpouring of feelings that were suppressed during the day.
post 622 Posted 11 October 2008 - 10:28 AM
Tamaya: It seems together with 1874 , “Landgull” is the favorite piece among the fans, which I didn’t know until now. I guess birds of a feather do flock together, but what is interesting is the different vibes/feelings elicited from that essay. Same essay, different viewpoints and feelings.
strawberry67: This is well written by Steven. I feel that he treasures every moment in his lives and whenever he sees something, he could put it into many different meaning. He could do a lot of things alone and he will do it with flying colors. A man who has sympathy, respect and can accept different points of view in life.
Tamaya: Fans have read much more into that essay than I. Somewhat different from how I felt; guess, I didn't dig deeply enough between the lines. I feel that in the essay Steven is at peace with himself, with the world and is actually savoring his solitude, unlike what his other fans wrote, although, there is that sense of loss and sadness when the gull flies off, after disdainfully declining his offer to stay. But he did get over his despondence with rationale. But what I like most about this piece is how in just few words, he could draw his readers into that moment in time and share it with him, at the same time, evoking different feelings from them.