The Almost-Secret Diary

HOW CAN I do this?  How can I say some things, share some ideas that are really not for everyone on the Internet?

Do I want everyone to know the odd and sometimes the dear ideas of my quiet little website?  Do I gather ideas that have meant so much to me, do I set them loose on the Interstate where drivers on the way to Other Places run them down, barely noticing?

My little ideas are…well, they’re the sheep I once mentioned in Illusions II.  Some of them, some day, may be written in stories, some just want to be set free without a book to sail them around the world.

They are valuable sheep, here on this little meadow, a magical land for them to live and gently to meet us.

Here’s a few words about the sheep from the book:


He took a little book from his shirt pocket, opened it.  He looked at me, not at the page, and told me what the words said: “Nobody comes to Earth to dodge problems.  We come here to take ‘em on.”

I hope not me, I thought.  I’ll dodge this problem, please.  “I have to take my memories for true.   Not an image, this is my memory!  I was one inch from…” l blinked.  “Your Messiah’s Handbook!  It’s still with you?

“You’ve promised to believe what you remember, even when it isn’t true?  This is not the Handbook.  It’s…” he closed the book, read the title: “…Lesser Maxims and Short Silences.”

“Lesser Maxims?  Not as powerful as the Handbook?”

He handed the little book to me,

Why you and why now? Because you asked it to be this way.

This disaster is the chance you prayed for, your wish come true

I prayed for this?   Nearly dying?  I don’t remember praying for an airplane crash.  Why was this event the one I prayed for?   Why me?

Because it was right on the edge of impossible, that’s why.  Because it would require absolute determination, day after week, month after month, and then it could have a host of difficulties.  I needed to know whether my beliefs would overcome every one of the problems.

The doctors were required to talk about what could happen, how my life would never be the same again.  I’d be required to smother every one of their beliefs with my own, with beliefs I called true. They could call on all of the knowledge of material Western medicine, I could call on spirit, hold to it even though no one could see it.   I am a perfect expression of perfect Love, here and now.

That mattered to me more than living in this world.  I didn’t know that, before.

I shook my head, turned Shimoda’s page.

*   *   *   *

    Unsuccessful Animal Inventions:

                           Wolves on Stilts.

*   *   *   *

Wolves on Stilts?  How does that affect my life, Don?”

“It’s a Lesser Maxim.  It may not affect your life at all.”

“Oh.  Who wrote this odd book?  You keep it in your pocket.”



“You don’t believe me, do you?”


“Turn to the last page.”

I did.  I had written an introduction, my caring for the sheep of ideas never printed, signed my name to it.

Wolves on stilts?”

“You’re kind,” he said.  “How many sheep would love to see the wolves practicing?”

I smiled.  “Some.  Never published?  I forget.”


True.  Never published.  For now, I want to put them on this website.  Yet now they’re private thoughts, an almost-secret diary, thoughts that touched me but not ready to publish, they may never be.

Here’s the introduction for the several hundred of my little sheep.

NOT EVERYONE who’s an idea makes it into a book.

Pour all our bright sparks into writing a novel, half of them get cut, vanished in rewrite to the Power of the Deleted Word.

Cutting the unnecessary makes for a wonderful story, sure enough: it’s a crisp free arrow; last sentence ties all before in some happy shock-wave for a reader, stays in mind, maybe, for hours.

I love books like that: love to read ‘em, do my best to paint them to words, too.

Writers get well into their career, though, and here’s all these lost sheep, knee-high, following us about, all the ideas that never made it to a page of those lean stories.  The don’t complain, they’re not sad.  But a writer is their shepherd, and those fluffy unpublished maxims, they don’t stray.


Couple or five decades, writing, you’ve got a fair flock about you, meandering when you walk, galloping alongside while you run.  Shepherd you are, but not their keeper.  Their true keepers are readers out there in the world who want them for pets, put them to work solving problems, breaking deadlocks, lifting sorrows with a smile, every day, daily life.

I don’t know what other writers do with their flocks.  I didn’t know what to do with mine till I found them yet again, grazing in my Edit This Out  file, my Deleteds from Final Draft — maxims who delighted me when we met, who had helped me remember, kept me warm through my shares of ice and winter.

So came the day, I feel this tug on my pant-leg, I look down and it’s a spokes-sheep:

“You love us?” she said, big dark eyes, earnest, asking.  “We’ve helped you, and you love us still?”

I knelt down, drew it close.

“Of course I love you!  I owe my songs to you, my visions of who we are!”

“Your readers, Richard,” she said.  “Don’t they have songs too, and visions?”

“Of course, silly sheep!  Readers are same as me…all of us have our musics.”

“Then we want to be with them.  We want to be…” the little creature looked to the ground, then back to me, “…we want to be useful.”

Whoa, I thought.  I didn’t say anything.

“We’re not for everyone, of course.  We’ll be chased off some hillsides: Out!  Bad idea!  Not welcome!  Shoo!”

I nodded.  Smart sheep: nobody’s welcome everywhere.

“We know we don’t belong in the books you’ve written, but that doesn’t mean we’re not true for some readers,  now and then.  Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a chance.”

Having said what she had to say, the little thing trusted her way back toward the others.  She wanted me to know.  She had told me.  Her job was done.  I would do whatever I would do for the future of her flock.

*   *   *   *

You know what I decided, of course, for here they are.

Now they’re your flock, too, in your hands.  Some may come with a laugh, some won’t matter, some might save your life…they’ve saved mine a couple times over.

One can’t have too many sheep.

Lesser Maxims and Short Silences

We’re changing every moment.

A river can never be stepped in twice by the same person.

*   *   *   *

To a new writer:

What you’re doing now is pouring a block of molten words.

You’ll be shaping it, when it cools, with a sledge and chisels, with sandpaper and last of all, with one soft cloth.

*   *   *   *

Call me overcautious, but that’s the last time I go surfing without my parachute.

*   *   *   *

Why does it takes the four-year-old so long, to learn to read?

1. Download the Cyrillic alphabet.

2. Start your timer.

3. When you’re reading Russian as well as your child’s reading English, stop the clock.

*   *   *   *

They go on.  For folks like me, these little sheep are friends.  I don’t know how to use them right now, but I can’t erase them, either.

Maybe I should put them all on the website.  A subscription part of the site.

An Almost-Secret Diary.


The Ex-Pilot

“I DON’T LIKE my dreams,” he told his mother, not long before his fifth birthday.

“Why not, sweetheart?”  She was ready for tigers chasing, she knew what to say, how to turn dream-lions into friends.

“I get shot down, and I don’t like that.”

“Shot down, honey?”

“I was flying a big bomber, and I get shot down.”

“And yet,” she told me, “he’s crazy about airplanes!  He runs outside to look when they fly over, he shushes us when they come on TV, he draws pictures day after day.  War pictures, mostly.  Bombers dropping bombs…”

When Dougie showed up that day, his first time in the hangar to see my airplane, I thought it might be important not to say anything but Hi Dougie, come on in!

We walked over to the airplane.

“Do you want to sit in the pilot’s seat?”

He nodded, climbed up unaided to the pillows I had put there to give him the pilot’s view.  He reached for the control yoke.

No instruction, no explanation.  A question.

“If you were flying now, Dougie,” I asked, “if you were in the air, what would you do with the controls to make the airplane go up?”

The kid is five years old.  He pulled the yoke back a few inches.

“How would you make it go down?”

He pushed it forward.  Not a lot.  Just enough forward so that if the airplane had been flying, it would have changed smoothly from a climb to a descent.

“What if you wanted to make it climb and turn to the left?”

Left went the wheel, and a little bit back.  His feet couldn’t reach the rudder pedals by a long shot, but a pilot doesn’t require pedals to make a turn.  He does need to move the wheel to the left, however, and to pull it back, just as the boy had done.

After a while I moved the pillows to the copilot’s seat, and we flew the airplane together.  The flight was in formation with another aircraft, Dougie’s dad in the other plane with a video camera, taking pictures of his son’s first flight.

Climbing through 700 feet, the world tilting below, the other airplane floating huge on our right wing, drifting gently up and down in the roar of engines and slipstreams, the boy looked at me from under his headset and spoke to the interphone.

“I’m scared!” he said.

I looked at him.  That would be normal.  Some people are terrified, another airplane just a few feet away.  What would happen, they can’t help but think, if suddenly the airplanes crashed together…

“I’m scared!” he said again, then a big smile.  “Just kidding!”

Things I Learned an Hour ago:

     WHEN we dream at night, we’re locked where we are by the beliefs of our trance.  We think the story in sleep is the only life we have, and we’ve forgotten how to wake up.

But it can be done.  An alarm clock can wake us, a touch, the bark of our dog.  Or (hard to do) we can remember ourselves in a different lifetime than our dream.   Sometimes in our dreams we think that only our belief of death can change what we see.  Now, waking up, I know isn’t death, though, it’s merely that we wake from one dream into a different one.  Is that true in waking life, too?

Is this possible, an event like this?

IT WAS A dream about a dear friend, an old pilot, who had been killed in a crash years before. In the dream, I saw him with his J-3 Cub on floats, he landed on a lake and I met him when he reached the shore.

I knew that others, after they die, take the appearance of what they think was their favorite appearance while on Earth, and asked my friend why he looked just as I remember him, instead of as a young man?  He said he likes being seen as the old-timer.

I flew with him in the Cub, and he pointed out toward crystal cities on the horizon (“For those who like city life,” he said).  Then he asked if I wanted to fly the Cub.  Of course I said, Yes, please.

“Just a minute,” he said.  He slowed way down, then pressed the Cub into a spin, from about 2,000 ft.  “OK,” he said while the airplane was spinning straight down, “you’ve got it…”

I recovered, laughing.

“Do you have mid-airs here?” I asked, after a while.

“Sometimes.  The airplanes just pass through each other, of course, nobody’s hurt.”  Then in case I needed reminding, he smiled and said, “Now you don’t want to do that on Earth…”

I asked what I could take with me from this moment, to prove this was more than my imagination or a dream.  What could I tell his son to show I really talked with his dad?

He answered at once.  “Ask him about Uncle Eddy.”  Then the scene dissolved and I woke.

I wrote later to his son:

“… an odd thing happened that I wanted to check with you.  About a month ago I had a remarkable dream about your dad.  I was by a lake in the forest, not quite knowing why, when I looked up and saw a Cub on floats on downwind.  It landed on the water, and it was your dad, looking just like always and really happy.  I asked what he was doing here, and he said that he flew kids, mostly, to give them an intuition, before they’re born, a love of flying that would later draw them into the air.

“We talked for a while in this dream and we flew together.  It was vivid, unforgettable the whole event, and I’m still remembering it, and how glad I was to see him again.

“For some reason I wanted verification that this was a real meeting.  I asked if there was anything I could say to you that would make sense, beside it was an interesting dream.  He said I should ask you about Uncle Eddie.  That was the end of the dream.

“I don’t have a clue what that might mean, if it means anything at all.  For a while I wasn’t even going to mention the dream to you.  I don’t know if your dad had a brother, or whether Eddie might be a dog’s name, or what it meant.  But finally I thought hey, I’ll ask.  Whether or not that name means anything to you, this remains the most memorable dream of my life.”

His son’s answer came the next day:

“Your dream was interesting, all right.  Dad always enjoyed giving kids their first airplane ride.

“As far as ‘Uncle Eddie,’ the only person he may be referring to is Capt. Eddie.  He was an American Airline pilot who flew for Dad at the seaplane base when he had layovers down here.  Capt. Eddie owned a Piper J-3 on floats and kept it at his house.

“Odd that you mentioned it, since he just died, at the age of 93.

“He flew every Saturday morning up until his death.  The last few years of his life he was very frail and kept the airplane at our seaplane base.  We would help get the airplane ready for him every weekend.  Capt Eddie was still a very good pilot to the day he died.

“I never heard Dad call him anything but Capt. Eddie.”

Honest, this event really happened.  What do you think?  How do you explain this dream?  Does it need explaining?

Thank you, every one!

What a feeling, now, to hear the motors under these pages slowly spinning up and coming on line, the website blinking, alive again!

There were a dozen or so comments came here, written back when I had what was the crash with Puff.  I saw these notes, which I found just now, were so concerned, and so caring, they were hopes and thoughts for wellness.  They worked beautifully.  Then I glanced at the bottom of the page where it said there were 192 pages of comments about the event, sending prayers for me and little Puff.  192 pages!

So here are my kindest thanks for your dear thoughts about the crash, which became not an accident but a blessing for me and for Puff.  We’re both rebuilt, we’re flying again.  We learned a grand lesson about death, and about living, too.  What was it, that we learned?

That death, isn’t.

That lifetimes are play-act schoolrooms, on an infinite campus, with millions of fictions to test us.

That hereafters are fictions, too.

That the only reality, the only one, right here and way out beyond space and time, is Love.

Such a dramatic lesson it’s been, that I’ll probably be chatting on about it, now and then, for the rest of my own little schoolroom lifetime.

Today I need to tell you thanks for all the letters and cards and emails that you’ve sent and for the ones you thought about sending…those worked too.  It was a remarkable healing.  We fly again.



Welcome to Jonathan’s New Home:

I’ve wondered all these years, could there be a place in the world where those who love the ideals of Jonathan Seagull can meet?

Wouldn’t it be a joy for me to meet just one person who values what I value, who paints the colors of their own portrait quietly on this canvas?  Not only a joy for me, but for others who have been touched by Jonathan’s wingtip, sometimes a whisper, sometimes it changed their lives completely… would it be possible to say hi to them, to ask them, if they wished, to tell us about a world they see, about coincidence brushing their lives?

At last it’s happened. The opening day for the site is March 31.

What will happen if we meet on line? One wrote me a note years ago, that reading Jonathan, he had decided to quit an advertising position in Manhattan. He would finally follow what he loved, to sail his little sailboat around the world. He told me this on a postcard mailed from Portugal. I never heard from him again, but what a life he had chosen, and how it had affected mine, and now his note meets your life, too.

Come visit the new website, tell us your story, if you wish. Did Jonathan touch your life, did it change you? I’d love to know, and with your permission we could post your story to share with others.

Thank you for your hello, and for listening to my own, at last.


IT’S ABOUT time, isn’t it?

For years, it’s been: richardbach-dot-com was a single page with a faint photo of the Messiah’s Handbook, and no amount of clicking would change anything.  Just that picture.

Because for all that time I didn’t know what to do with a website.

I needed to hold the site name, but didn’t want to go it alone, burn myself out again as I’d done twice before — a Compuserve forum long ago and a Twitter presence last year.  I’ve seen there are a couple of richardbach fan sites on Facebook.  I don’t know who runs those but I’ve looked at the pages once in a while, read what thousands of others had posted and wondered, Why can’t there be some place where I could talk with my world-around family, which cherishes so many values that I live by, too?  A place where we could perhaps find each other, as well?

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“Routine Flight,”

AS IF THERE IS such a thing.  The purpose of any flight may sound routine: “Flight instruction,” “Aircraft test flight,” “To Sebring for engine maintenance,” but the flying itself nearly always has some unexpected gift.  Those can’t-be-planned events filter into a pilot’s life nearly every time she lifts off the ground, whether or not he makes a note of them in his logbook, “Cloud of flamingoes rose from the reeds.”

Today’s flight was the above, “To Sebring for engine maintenance,” with Dan Nickens.  He said he’d be flying over the house around 9:30 and did I want to join him on his trip for maintenance?

Puff and I met Dan and Jennifer (WT’s less formal name) at 1,500 feet at 9:30.  The air was still and smooth, I switched the camera on for a crossover and return, floating in the air:

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A Flight with Puff, the Amateur Movie II

I KNOW YOU DON’T mind that the editing is a little rough.

UPDATE:  HERE’S THE OTHER VIEWPOINT, without the jerkiness:


While this is an interesting point of view, the camera out on the wing strut, I’ll try something pointing toward the nose, either from low on the lift strut or on top of the windscreen.

If anyone knows why the YouTube version is stop-and-go jerky, let me know.  The original doesn’t have that problem.  Is there some after-upload smoothing app I’m missing?

For those of you wondering how tight the SeaRey can turn on the ground without differential brakes, the answer is Very.  A little brake and a lot of rudder and around she goes.