Richard Bach Quotes

An Interview with Richard Bach by Gail Hudson of

In Out of My Mind, the narrator enters a parallel universe where beings from an earlier era of aviation give him solutions for how to fix some problems with his small Cub plane. Is this something out of your own experience?

I've been trying to write fiction for years, and I can't seem to pull it off! These events that happened [to the narrator] with needing some small fixes happened to me. The problem door latch was a typical example of saying, "I don't have any earthly idea how this thing is going to work out," and the next morning waking up and there it is! The solution! And then politely, "Oh, that's nice. Thank you, subconscious, I appreciate that." Next, the question crossed my mind: where did that solution come from? I knew it wasn't me thinking, "Well, now let's see, if we attach this to this to this...." It was just a sudden lightning flash of intuition. Somebody, I thought, had to know what it was, before they handed it to me! Of course, I'm always interested in the more dramatic way to discover, instead of saying, "Well, it's a process you don't know about." So the next time an idea came, sure enough, here was this lovely messenger's face all of a sudden looking up at me startled. I was perched like a vulture right near, waiting for my answer.

So how did you make it possible for this vision to appear to you?

It's nothing strange. It's called a relaxation response. I relax my body completely, relax my mind completely, and then imagine myself at a level where anything can happen. I decided to drift back to see if I could find what was going on, who this messenger was, where this information was coming from. Then I saw the scene that's in the book, this huge hangar. It looked awfully real. I was startled that it could be so crisp, so clear. When I came back into this world, I realized that the hangar had a British sense about it, so I went on the Internet and I began casting around. I said, "Find me something about England and hangars and antique airplanes." It came up with a number of sites, one of them Duxford Aerodrome, with photographs. It felt like ice cubes down my back, because all at once I was looking at the hangar that I had seen in my mind! Even now I can go on the Internet, click on Duxford, and see it again. So of course I went back in my mind and met these people from the aerodrome, who to me are real people. I know they're imaginary characters, but imaginary characters can bring us workable, practical, everyday truth and knowledge with which we can change our lives right here and now.

It seems that your readers appreciate hearing the stories from your own experiences. I was scrolling on the site and looking at customer comments on your books, and realizing that your stories have spoken so deeply to so many people! Starting with Jonathan Livingston Seagull and moving on to The Bridge Across Forever and One, the praise is overwhelming. Can you articulate what you might be offering that people are so hungry for?

I think it's not because I'm unusual but because I'm so much like everybody else. Turns of life that fascinate me fascinate a lot of people. There is a family of us who have this yearning for a kind of excellence that we can manifest every day of our lives, a family who wants to believe we're not pawns, we're not victims on this planet, that knows we have the power within us here and now to change the world we see around us! One of the great cosmic laws, I think, is that whatever we hold in our thought will come true in our experience. When we hold something, anything, in our thought, then somehow coincidence leads us in the direction that we've been wishing to lead ourselves. A little voice says, "Why don't you turn right, here at this street corner up here where you always turn left?" And, listening, wondering, and maybe with a little smile, we turn right. And we turn right down the channel through which runs the river of coincidence, which then picks us up and takes us where it will, drops us off at the place that we've been holding in our thought.

That's often true for the narrator in your books. It's intriguing to see you following coincidences and yielding to them! In The Bridge Across Forever, you followed and trusted the guidance that led you to Leslie Parrish, whom you called your "soul mate." And yet you also speak honestly about the fear of yielding to these coincidences, and the challenge of interpreting what they mean.

Yes. There's so much to learn! And just when we think, "I've got it. I really understand what's going on," we're shown a whole new stage set on which to play. We may take one step in that new direction. But the step was right to the crest of a hill, and now look at the unexpected beyond! Whole new avenues and destinations and truths that are waiting for us to discover them.

Are you and Leslie still together?

No. That is, Leslie and I are no longer married. Soul mates, to me, don't define themselves by legal marriage. There's a learning connection that exists between those two souls. Leslie and I had that for the longest time, and then a couple of years ago, she had this startling realization. She said, "Richard, we have different goals!" I was yearning for my little adventures and looking forward to writing more books. Leslie has worked all her life long, and she wanted peace, she wanted to slow the pace, not complicate it, not speed it up. Not money, not family, no other men or other women, separated us. We wanted different futures. She was right for her. I was right for me. Finally it came time for us to make a choice. We could save the marriage and smother each other: "You can't be who you want to be." Or we could separate and save the love and respect that we had for each other. We decided the marriage was the less important. And now we're living separate lives.

Will you write about that sometime?

I'm not sure. I could write my perceptions but not hers. I believe that Leslie and I were led to find each other, led through the years we lived together, and led to part. There's so much to learn! When a marriage comes to an end, we're free to call it a failure. We're also free to call it a graduation. We didn't say, "I guess we weren't led to each other, I guess we're not soul mates after all." Our graduation was part of the experience we chose before we were born, to learn how to let each other go. We're two expressions of life, which decided to share the experience of 21 years in space time. Good times and terrible ones, everything in the books and more, they're still true. We're apart because we decided to have different futures. I've remarried now, beginning a new adventure as Leslie begins hers, but I'll never forget that she's always been as much a soul mate to me as I've been to her--we've lived some powerful lessons together.

Can you tell me a little bit about your everyday life now? You live in the Pacific Northwest. Do you have a very old-fashioned, or low-tech, lifestyle?

I wish I could say low-tech, but I'm sitting here looking at two computers as we speak. I think most people who fly airplanes find that there's one part of their spirit that really loves the leading edge, the other the old ways. I have two airplanes. One is the Cessna Skymaster, which is super-modern 21st century, lots of cathode-ray tubes in the instrument panel, all kinds of electronic equipment. That airplane is for going places swiftly, on instruments, at altitude. That's one way to fly, and it's fascinating. The other airplane is a 1943 Piper Cub, the simplest factory-built flying machine ever manufactured. The pilot flies it with a broom-handle control stick and steel-tube rudder pedals, looking out the window to see where to go. No radios, no instruments. Well, an oil-pressure gauge. You open this big door, of course, and there's the wind pouring alongside, the ground rolling by down below. When I started flying, it was in a little airplane like the Cub. Yet something within me said, "Richard, in your career you're going to touch a large number of airplanes, some of them extremely exotic flying machines. But when the time comes that you have learned what you can learn from them, you will come back to a Piper Cub and you will begin to learn what it is to fly." I think our learning lies along the path of whatever it is we love. For me it's flight. Somebody else can be crazy about boats, or architecture, or the advertising business--whatever it is that we truly love, that's how we'll learn what we came to learn. When we walk in that direction, we'll find the events that empower us, that delight us, that give us perspective, and we'll be living a metaphor for our own life.

That seems like another theme in your books--how much flight is metaphor for your exploration of the unconscious.

Yes. Before we can even fly an airplane, we have to say, "I believe that this can happen." Yet we go out there and we try to pick up an airplane--we can't do it. It weighs 1,000 pounds or 10,000 or 500,000, no way to lift that. We look around it very carefully, there're no strings or wires or cables or hydraulic jacks that are going to pick this up. But something invisible, we know, something magical, can lift it like a feather. We don't have to understand it to make it work for us, we just have to try it. Take this little Cub and taxi it at 40 miles an hour and watch what happens. Look! The little wheels are off the ground! And the more we learn about the invisible principle of aeronautics, the more freedom we find. I think there's an invisible principle of living too. If we believe we're guided through every step of our lives, we are. It's a lovely sight, watching it work.

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