Sep 24

The Subversive Illusion of “I Can’t…”

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.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on August 2016.


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    • Susan on September 24, 2017 at 18:13

    Oldie but goodie😘

      • Don Bay on September 25, 2017 at 06:38

      I’ve read it twice now and although it may seem to some that it’s feel-good stuff, some deeper thought about some of them lead a person to find them good advice. As you say, it’s old, but it’s good advice.

    • Arthur Ulene on September 24, 2017 at 18:19

    This one really got me thinking. Some of the aphorisms are really sappy….. until you start thinking about them (which, of course, is exactly what you were asking us to do). I printed out today’s message so I can give the idea some more thought. Thanks, Don…… Art

      • Don Bay on September 25, 2017 at 06:53

      Although some of them are obvious and can be passed over, several are worth the time it takes to find the gold nugget. As I told Susan, some of the advice is worth the time it takes to incorporate them your life. As a thinking man, you’ll find the ones holding gold nuggets for you.

      As an aside, the true family one hangs on my wall, a gift from a member of my true family.

  1. The aphorism that most changed, and continues to change, my life, is: “If peace is really what you want, then you will choose peace” (Eckhart Tolle). I don’t always manage to let it guide me, but when I do my life remains at peace.

      • Don Bay on September 25, 2017 at 07:12

      One day as I started to work I was feeling down, so I lied to myself by repeating the affirmation over and over that I was on top of the world and feeling great. In the 20 minutes it took to arrive at work, I was truly feeling good again. The moral to this story is that affirmations work if you allow them to work. Your emotions are changeable, so change the negative ones that impede you into positive ones that advance you. You have the power.

      Your peace affirmation has the power to make you feel at peace. The only change I would suggest is that you modify your affirmation by telling yourself in the present tense, “I feel peaceful.” Lo and behold, you will be peaceful. It’s the power of positive thought, Jim. Not only have you changed the lives of others, you are changing your own life.

  2. You’re right about using the affirmation to feel peaceful, along with others like being on top of the world. But for me the peace affirmation reminds me not to react to others or to situations, but to choose to be peaceful in my relationships. It’s made a difference on that level as well.

      • Don Bay on September 25, 2017 at 18:37

      We always react to others, but it’s how you choose to deal with that. You choose to remain peaceful. I suspect that there yet may come a situation in which you will be unable to remain peaceful. All life is a test. I hope you pass the test when it arrives.

  3. And I’m sure you remember the recent debate between us where I did not remain peaceful, and for which I apologize once again.

      • Don Bay on September 25, 2017 at 19:14

      I don’t recall the earlier apology, but I accept this one. You’re an honorable man working to aid others less fortunate. That’s what’s important.

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