In Brief — Some reasons why an old but eminently worthwhile book can improve your life. First, you must read it. [Written in May 2017.]
Negative Attitudes are Quicksand —
Last week it was an intriguing fantasy circus with its characters that we wish were real; this week a book that should be on every shelf and should be an integral part of every life. “Illusions” by Richard Bach, the author of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” is a vaguely autobiographical novel that presents aphorisms that require thought to grasp the truth hiding in plain sight.
The author meets Donald Shimoda, a fellow barnstormer who is more than a skilled flyer, he’s a messiah who not only astounds, but shares his philosophy with the author. Is Shimoda the real article or is he crazy? Are the maxims in his manual feel-good advice or wisdom that has the power to change lives for the better?
Some people believe “Illusions” is just another self-help book. Among many others, I think it has the power to make the obstacles between you and your goal mere hindrances, not blocks. I often say that the one unchanging fact in the universe is change. Can you accept change? Are you willing to go around that obstacle to achieve your goal?
Shimoda’s manual says, “Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they are yours.” On the surface, that maxim appears to be simple feel-good advice, but go deeper and it is saying that you are building a defense around your comfort zone. It is suggesting that you need to find a way around that obstacle to achieve your goal. Self-help it appears to be, but it’s up to each individual to dive deeper rather than defensibly circling the wagons around a comfort zone on the surface.
Years ago I read a book titled “A Whack on the Side of the Head.” Basically, it said that a person needs to think differently, unconventionally, not in the usual way that’s blocking progress toward a goal. That’s what that little aphorism is saying. That’s not feel-good advice.
Here are a few of the maxims in “Illusions.” Do they resonate with you? Think before you answer.
“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”
“The world is your exercise-book, the pages on which you do your sums. It is not reality, although you can express reality there if you wish. You are also free to write nonsense, or lies, or tear the pages.”
“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.”
“Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully.”
“Every person, all the events in your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.”
There are more, but not all will touch you. Some of these have no meaning to you. Regardless, let them simmer in your thoughts, in your dreams.
I close with this thought from “Illusions”…
“Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.”
The Weekly Sampler—
As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15, 2017, blog (“A Simple Reading Assignment”) for more thorough instructions.
If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.
Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.