Friday, August 28, 2009

Blue Feather

Richard Bach, the author of Johnathan Livingston Seagull, also wrote a book called Illusions. In it, the character who is seeking answers to some of life's questions is travelling with a professional barnstormer. The barnstormer is a kind of guru who tries to help him answer his questions. He tells the seeker that he can have anything he wants from the universe, he just has to ask for it. The seeker doesn't believe this, so the messiah asks him to test it with something simple.

"Okay," says the seeker, "a blue feather." He looks around and the messiah tells him he'll find it soon. The next day, or maybe a few days later, they're in another town eating breakfast and the seeker is thunderstruck to see a picture of a blue feather on the side of the milk carton. It's from the "Blue Feather Dairy."

He's astonished and points it out to the messiah who just says "I thought you wanted an actual feather."

I think of this story every time I find a blue feather. I found one today on the grass next to the apron, right where I was about to lower the stairs. The hardest part may not be getting what you want, but figuring out what it is that you really want.

5 comments:

nec Timide said...

Indeed!

Sarah said...

Ah yes. I should reread Illusions, it's been years. I recall it being fun, and lightly profound. Way back then I had a strong mystic streak and Bach's additional aviation slant certainly appealed. I followed reading "Stranger to the Ground" and "Biplane" with his more speculative books, although he lost me with the ferrets... often wondered what he is up to these days.

Now, I have a more bare and less magical world view - one that recognizes that enlightenment probably requires some work on my part, in addition to reading and appreciating the wise ones like Sam, or Richard, or Kurt.

Tina Marie said...

I really loved Bach books when I was younger. I read them all, many of them dozens of times.

His philosophizing gets a little more grating every time I read them, though. It's sort of an early version of "The Secret", combined with a whole pile of elitism - "If you were just as enlightened as me, you'd be happy".

But there are bits of the books I will always deeply love. Lines from "Biplane" ran through my head every time I got near my Starduster. "Nothing To Chance" is an amazing story of a barnstorming era now gone. And in "A Gift of Wings", he's got a short story called "An Airplane is just a Machine" that will forever define my relationship with my airplane.

Someone told me he and his son have an FBO in north Washington State, but I don't know where.

Gannfan said...

I enjoyed Bach up to and including Johnathan Livingston Seagull, but after that not so much. In A Gift of Wings I've always loved his description of JFK and something about the whale-like airliners "sculling their way off the bottom of the aquarium ..." (not an exact quote - just my memory).

Scott Johnson said...

Dick Bach's "Stranger to the Ground" remains one of my most treasured books. From it comes my favorite aviation quote of all time, one that transcends even the prose of Saint-Ex:

"Man is not confined to walk the earth and be subject to its codes. Man is a free creature, with domain over his surroundings, over the proud earth that was his master for so long."