Whether you’re a reader or an aviator, a Richard Bach fan or someone who has never heard of the bestselling author who flew to fame on the wings of a soaring seagull named Jonathan, you’ve probably heard of an event in which Richard and his plane went down less smoothly than usual this week.
I am a journalist. I use Associated Press (AP) Style every day, so I know that AP Style has certain guidelines – and that most newspapers and magazines write their stories following certain rules. I also know Richard Bach, as my favorite author, an experienced and cautious aviator and an encouraging mentor to others who share his passions – flight and writing.
Bear with me as I break a few of your rules, oh Journalism Gods, and write the story of Richard’s little adventure the way I think he’d like it to be told.
Actually, I am quite certain that Richard would rather this story had not been told at all. He’s never liked being in the limelight.
And, yes, calling him Richard instead of Bach is the first rule I’m breaking. A surname just seems too impersonal when writing about someone whose words and example have impacted my life and life’s work in such a positive way.
As for breaking the rules, Richard once walked away from a corporate job just so that he could, put, his, commas, where he wished. (Not his exact words, but you get the idea.) As a mentor, he’d approve of my rule breaking if it made the story better, so I will Go. For. It.
The problems with the accounts of an event that happened in what Pacific Time called Friday afternoon are several. In Richard’s world, time really isn’t all that necessary. Richard’s work has drawn to it a family of readers worldwide. Time isn’t important, nor is place.
What matters to Richard is that somewhere close to him are blue skies in which he can soar, green fields in which to land a plane and waters nearby in which to splash down with his beloved Puff.
“Puff” – that’s her name.
When Richard Bach had an unexpected landing – which his family of readers is convinced he’ll call yet another “adventure,” he wasn’t in just any “single-engine amphibious aircraft,” as some papers reported.
Richard was out playing with his friend Puff.
Readers of Richard’s books will remember that some of his planes had names and some didn’t. He’s owned many, but we’re not so sure Richard has danced with, nurtured and pampered any other as much as he has Puff. Richard loves that little SeaRay, one of a family of like-souled vessels, most with owners who are, too, a family.
Newspaper and television accounts of Richard’s landing use words I won’t to describe his time in this dimension, his “condition,” and more.
What journalists don’t get, because they may not have read his work, is that “age” doesn’t exist in Richard’s world. An injured body or a crashed plane – blah, they’re but illusions.
Flying alone? Not Richard.
He may have been the only mortal soul in the cockpit, but he wasn’t alone. He was with Puff – and his family of readers and fellow aviators are with him on every flight. As Richard soars, he takes us along. Often, he later puts his adventures in words as only a scribe and aviator as proficient as Richard could.
Here’s your story, wire services and TV stations, the way I think Richard would have it told, if must it be:
Richard Bach, an advanced being with a childheart, and Puff, a soul whose physical body includes appearances of metal, rubber and more, are at work on the latest chapter in their series of adventure stories.
In a land with blue water, bluer skies, green grass and emerald trees, the duo’s unusual acrobatic landing on a recent afternoon was a magnet for coincidence and an opportunity for a rescue tale of Bachian proportions.
In the world of appearances, Richard, whose words have given flight to kindred spirits worldwide, was transported to a place where loving beings with gifts different than his own will provide him with experiences to put on a page that are unlike any of which he has written.
Meanwhile, as they are adventuring separately, Puff is gathering her own stories of love and tender care, which she can’t wait to share with Richard and their family of readers.
Don’t forget, though. As Richard's family of readers will attest, this adventure and everything you’ve heard about it may be but an illusion.
© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012