Continuing the spiritual theme this week, I thought I’d look at a couple of novels with a spiritual element: Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, both by Richard Bach. They’re both good stories as stories, and have some good philosophy too.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull is about a seagull who’s obsessed with flying. While all the other seagulls lurch around and squabble over fish, Jonathan trains and practices to become a better and better flier–perfecting speed flying, diving, and soaring up above the clouds. When he dies, he finds himself in another place with other seagulls, who also love to fly, and goes on learning–eventually coming back to Earth to teach more seagulls to fly. It’s a story about a bird and flying, but it’s also about rising above the world to realize your own value–and everyone’s value as a unique, special individual.
Illusions is the story of a miracle worker (literally–no tricks) who can’t stand the crowds and the fame, and heads off in a biplane to travel from town to town, giving rides: three dollars for ten minutes in the air. The narrator is another pilot in the same line of work, and the story is about what he learns about life and the world while he flies around with the retired miracle worker.
Bach goes a bit too New Age for me at times (especially Illusions), so if you happen to read one of these, don’t assume I agree with everything! He has a lot of good thoughts too, though, and these are some of the few books I’ve gone through with a highlighter, to note favorite lines. They’re short books, so maybe I’ll keep it a fairly short review too, and just give you some of my favorite quotes…
Jonathan Livingston Seagull:
“How much more there is now to living…We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!“
“The only true law is that which leads to freedom…There is no other.”
“In the path of our happiness shall we find the learning for which we have chosen this lifetime.”
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours.”
No problem is so big that you can’t run away from it.
You are quoting Snoopy the Dog, I believe?
I quote the truth wherever I find it.
“If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats.”
“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”
Okay, not so short. I got on a roll with Illusions. And one more note, for the writers out there–I heard somewhere that Bach received 44 rejections trying to sell Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It went on to be a #1 bestseller. So don’t let rejection slips make you argue for your limitations!