A New Family


All my life there have been bright and clear events, all of them happening in plain sight, but I haven’t noticed them, till all of a sudden now.  They’ve never been secrets, they’re like friendly dogs, going for walks with me year after year, and I never noticed.

How many events are there?  Hundreds, thousands?  You’ve been aware of most our event companions, unless like me you’re part of that two percent who never got the word.

Want an example?  Here’s one I noticed yesterday.  Just noticed it!  Yet it’s been walking with me since I was maybe eight years old.

Yesterday, I noticed that we have a public family, one that we grow with.  For years, the people of this family were older than we are, since we find them when we’re pretty young, ourselves.  We meet them in movies: Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor, James Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Newman, Rita Hayworth, Gregory Peck.


In books my family was L. Frank Baum, Margaret Mitchell, Ray Bradbury, Laura Ingalls Wilder, E.B. White, Ayn Rand, Ernest Hemingway, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Harper Lee, John Steinbeck.












In time we’ll meet others as old as we are, then a few who are younger.  Our public family is these and more: singers, dancers, comedians, commentators, a few politicians, the ones who play in the theater of media.  They make us smile, mostly, their wit and their skill at their craft, their sudden rise in our consciousness, and sometimes their fall.  Quite a gift, this family, and we’re not even aware it’s a gift till they’re gone.

Slowly, in time, our public family dies.  Do you remember Nevil Shute?  A magnificent author for me, and a best-selling writer in the 1950’s.  He wrote On the Beach, a book that may have pushed the world away from a nuclear war.  Only old readers remember him, now.

Live long enough, and we’ll notice that our family has disappeared, and some of us have chosen not to be part of the major modern family, a culture sometimes of hopeless drugs and wars and lies.

New actors, of course, new music groups appear where the old family was, and for some of us, remembering what lived before, they’re not our family at all.  The actors don’t touch us as once actors did; what they call rap is not music for us, their literature gone coarse.  Sometimes we don’t smile at the public family as once we did.

Is the Internet a new family?  I remember, for instance, it was yesterday when we believed that we fought a world war to save civilization.  Does the Web tell us now what television does not mention, that the USA is involved today, for instance, in 74 wars?  On the Internet, we can find out.

Like the survivors of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a few of us refuse to cheer Presidents as they murder others at weddings and funerals around the world.

Has it made me an orphan, my decision to leave a dysfunctional public family?  Who is there today, to become our family?  Just a few?  Just Us?

Maybe that’s how it works.

40 thoughts on “A New Family

  1. I think our public family is anyone who can bring about an inspiration from within ourselves….our inspiration being activated by them, an outside force. I think of it as the soil being prepared and the seeds of our inspiration are being watered by those, who i guess, we choose to water them. Once they are watered we needn’t that water anymore…or perhaps we need a little bit, but the intensity differs from that first intial watering. Am i am orphan? Nah…i feel very much as though i am one and have a sort of merge with those very special figures and i feel gratitude for their offerings-many that date very far back in time. I often wonder what life would be like if i hadn’t come into contact with both these private and public figures in my life that gave that spark to my inspiration and ultimate expression that created life externally. Hence today, in our day and age maybe one just doesn’t need the watering now, or just a few drops. Or maybe one needs a new stuff-like the sun? Maybe it will be different like you say ( or did i say that???) our view towards public figures and media spaces….

  2. Interesting…I’m having the same thoughts lately. At age 56 maybe I am entering the curmudgeon stage of my life; most all my heroes gone; listening to music from the 50’s and 60’s and wishing for a simpler life. In ignorance there may be bliss, but I prefer to have my eyes wide open. I will wait for the fireman of “Fahrenheit 451” to visit.
    In the interim, I’ll fly the Cruisair, get closer to the Almighty, and love my family. You may consider yourself to be in good company, Richard.

  3. There are so many families around us. Maybe less visible, but I somehow feel closer connection with them. I am in love with flying and I know that there are so many pilots who feel connected just through this love. Or nature lovers or Richard’s books lovers :-). I am so happy to be part of these families. One can not feel alone here as we are all connected through love.

  4. Yesterday my daugther and son bought a dog. It’s just here today: A new member in my family. Thinking
    In your last post this little syncronicity is important and I am going to learn too much.

  5. I am far enough along in life that sometimes it seems like there are more members of my “family” that have passed to the Other Side than I have here. If I focus on that I find myself starting to feel sad and lonely. This also happens if I start thinking about people that I used to call friend (or family) that I have lost contact with. Sometimes it helps if I can find out where they are now on the internet — but that usually doesn’t work, especially if they have a common name. Doing that too much makes me get all nostalgic — and I end up feeling more sad and lonely. As a result I’ve been trying to focus more on the members of my families that I have now, even if the makeup of these families may change — like if there is a turn over of employees at work.

    Since we all have a need for a sense of belonging and community, maybe having these various families helps fulfill that need to some extent. Even though all relationships take energy and time to build and maintain them, some families just seem to naturally form — and others take strong purposeful intent on our part to be or to act like a family. Which ones have the stronger bonds and give us more happiness?

    • Richard! I found it! I found the opposite of “lonely.” And I found it by reading Bobbi’s post again. This time slowly. And with great attention. I think the antonym for lonely is “belonging.” What a nice feeling that is….belonging. Belonging to a place or a person or to a cause. Like I feel I “belong” here. Here is my home. And here I will stay. And I hope you will too, along with my Brothers and Sisters.

  6. Many years ago a wise man once wrote an article entitled “For the Pleasure of Their Company”. Through that article my ‘family’ grew as I was introduced to Antoine and others. If we believe in forever, the size of our family can only continually grow. For me it is pilots who primarily draw me into their circle as I am not a ‘joiner’ but yet appreciate the company of like-minded individuals. Of course not all pilots are members of my family. I once overhead a student remarking to fellow student pilots that he had a car that would go 140 mph, but where he could he drive it so fast, and that is why he took up flying. I wondered what he will do when he discovers that even at 200 kts the world slips by so slowly at altitude. I do also lament the loss of family members with whom I can, for now, not communicate. But if we retain who we are after death, I am pretty sure there’s a great party awaiting my arrival.

  7. This is synchronistic for me as I was only thinking a couple of days ago how some famous people are like family. I was reading Illusions and you say that people of the same family rarely grow up in the same house, and that seems very true. Everyone you meet who you already seem to know has to be family. So, whenever I feel a real connection to someone through their music or writing or their personality, I think that they must be part of my family. Nevil Shute is my favourite author, I love his prose and the way he writes about ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and we find that we are not ordinary at all, or that extraordinary is in fact ordinary. As for dying, the four year old becomes the 40 year old, we die all the time even as we live, so dying we likely continue to live on in a different form.

  8. I have always found my family “outside” my family of origin. I chose to be born into a collection of dysfunction to learn lessons of love. . . or through the contrast of a life without love. This chasm grew even bigger when my sister died when I was ten. Her death, and subsequent visit after death, offered another view of life by showing me the Other Side. I found love there but I also found family and like minded people here, through a multitude of books and authors. Later, I found more family through connections of Spirit as a pediatric oncology nurse. Today I remain connected to to the children whose journeys continue here but also those that I walked to the other side.

    Following my NDE, I was open to all kinds of new connections. Now I find myself pulled to kindred spirits (and them to me) by some unseen force through the magic of the internet. We come together every day in Facebook groups and one on one chats where we talk about the “real” stuff. Though never meeting face to face, my love for these people grows each day in a gentle camaraderie. Is this a pulling together of souls that I communed with on the other side prior to this incarnation? For me, this feels like a coming Home. My true family is being born through this gathering of souls.

  9. SO SLOW… Balderdash Richard! You are the one writer that can cram more meaning into a single sentence. No offense to Ayn Rand (one of my favorites too) but I’d thought John Galt’s speech would never end. Ha

    Public family, not True family. And just a few? That’s affirmative.

  10. There are authors of books who fad away along with their work, but, Richard, you definitely will never be one of them. I think your creations and ideas are just as relevant today, maybe even more so, as they were when they were first published. I often recommend your books to people who are struggling today and most all of them come back to thank me and tell me that it made a difference in their lives. I always have extra copies of Illusions on hand just in case of an emergency.

    I think our generation is very blessed in that we had the most advantageous timing when it came to just about everything. In a way, it’s almost like we’re the chosen people. I would not like to be someone growing up and making my way in the world as it exists today. We had so many advantages and the world was a safer more secure place back then. Laughter and talent was fresh and came much easier. The comedians and sitcoms today feel like they have to wallow in the dirt just to try and pry out laughter from people. There are fewer boundaries now and much less laughter and honest feelings as a result. I often feel nostalgic and sad when I think of the friends and talented people who have passed and the good times that have gone by, but I feel sadder for the people today who will never know the wonderful lifestyle that many of us had back then. I think letting go of the past is a difficult but integral part of shedding our skins so we can transform into the future.

  11. I think it is like a highway to Heaven with many roads traveled. Some are diamonds in the rough, some have road blocks, dead ends, mountains to cross, mountains too high to get over, dry deserts, and then there are the oceans. Along these roads are many lessons, many levels. Often the lesson is right in front of us. It is up to us to see, the beauty in things, others and ourselves.
    Richard, some of your writings take me on a journey down many roads. I wander and wonder. I relate to everything you have written.
    I live in the southern part of the US. Here snowbirds come and go with the seasons. It is hard to get used to some never coming back, but I have adjusted to loss.
    I’m so glad you have crossed my path. You are one of many that has travelled with me, but mostly you have sat on my shelf beside our many writer friends. You are always there when I need you. Thanks for your gift to us.
    Thanks for not crossing over.
    Love must prevail over evil. We must keep our eyes open to the good in all.

  12. Tribes are a nice thing to belong to (they keep lions and tigers away), unless of course you are dividing up money in an inheritance. Which is why a public family, linked not by birth, but by Love is so important. I’m just a girl-without-a-tribe connecting to her public family here, and everywhere.

  13. I feel like my family is getting smaller…even my “real” family seems to be moving at such a fast pace that I feel left behind…a lot! I keep up with the pace as much as I truly want to but a lot of the time I feel like Winnie the Pooh…”oh bother”. Occasionally I look at the cover of magazines in the checkout lines and wonder where all the people I recognized have gone. This might be the loneliness you referred to a couple of weeks back…for me anyway. The biggest thing for me is a profound sadness at the state of the world now. In the 60’s and 70’s I felt surrounded by hope in the so-called New Age movement…was it for naught? I wonder…

  14. I think the closer we get to being finished with what ever we have chosen this lifetime to do we kind of out grow ourselves and this world. Our families and our “outside families” do get smaller. I think that is okay, an evolution in process. I think it is okay to not be interested in the world as it does not resonate with our deepest beliefs. I think we can choose our reality and not have to be part of something that does not make us happy. I am thinking collectively the more we focus on love and peace and keep a prayer out there for everyone the bigger that will get. Light a candle get comfy and let the light shine through. Peace

  15. Internet give us the opportunity to share our public family and also can help us to make our public family to live longer and remain… It is great to realize we have and can be member of a public family.

  16. Richard, have you considered the possibility that love is really what keeps us here? That the greatest love of all is something we not only die for, it is something we come back for?

  17. Hello Richard!

    You know something, you’re the newest member in my Public Family. 😉 I know you’re in that little plane in the clouds.

    As far as that Russian translation is concerned, I feel that their body language – and the whole aura around them – doesn’t reflect what they want to say about IT (world and wars). You’ll agree that the language is far difficult to learn. What I suggest them is to improve their aura, so that the world absorb what they and us really want in the world, Mir (Peace).

  18. Found the book,’ Illusions’ at a yard sale recently…had read it many, many, years ago…

    Interestingly, before finding it at the yard sale…I was telling a much younger someone, (who hadn’t read the book)…about the handwritten part of the story in the beginning..and now, reading it once again…I am getting a whole different level to the story.

    No other comments, really…just so appreciate your words, Richard…feeling that they are helping to awaken us all to the fact that, in truth…we are all family here on this beautiful Earth….

    My dream? That each of us begins to remember this.

    Thank you for your Presence!

  19. No, you’re definitely not an orphan! This is something which I ponder often, having largely left that dysfunctional public family sometime around 1980. 🙂 Just reading the list of people you mentioned was a breath of fresh air. Yet their works are still hugely popular, judging by sales figures, television ratings and so forth. Are they gone? I’m thinking about the analogy of lifetimes to movies in the original Illusions, which makes more sense to me than anything. Are they any less “real” today, less alive, simply because somebody said they died? Looking at things from what most would call the real world, I was practically born an anachronism, often preferring to look, for inspiration and learning, to those who lived decades or centuries before I came here. For whatever it’s worth, I believe they’re real. Granted, I had a lot of help from a certain seagull (who is also as real as he was 40 years ago). 🙂

  20. I think the world is a school. We do not belong here, but we are here to grow, learn and be entertained (Illusions). Family has become all those with a kindred intention of mastering the art of flying. (JLS) Sometimes we make ourselves known over a long period of time and sometimes in an instant, that flash of a smile, that innocent tear, that hug in the aisle of a bookstore. We are alive in all generations, learning, laughing, loving…reaching… flying home.

  21. “Who is there today, to become our family? Just a few? Just Us?”

    Maybe that’s how it works. Like a child’s first attempt at painting compared to a Leonardo or Monet. That’s not to say one is “better” than the other. Both are expressions of feeling and emotion, yet the child’s is understandably cruder than the practiced veteran.

    As we travel through this life we are continually refining our choices and paths. Those who come later haven’t done so much of that yet. Those who have may find that they have not so much to say to those who are beginning for they see different horizons and looking back is not always so clear.

    I’ve ridden this planet around its sun 52 times. I look back at my horizons then and now and see much that is different. New adventures, new learnings. Others have gone ahead. Eventually it will be us. Then it will be others. Even if we could go back…would we really want to?

  22. Richard, this is the second time I’ve read a posting by you in which you express a sense that your time has passed, and/or that the past was your time.

    I’m here to tell you that nostalgia isn’t what is used to be.

    Once again, I put the challenge to you, to focus on what can be, and stop isolating yourself in the shrinking world of the past. Take it from me: life is going to keep hitting you with that message, until you take heed, or die.

    You nearly died, two years ago. But, Life offered you a chance to live. You already had the past you identify with; if you and Puff had died, that past would not have been lost. What would have been lost, was the future, the experiences not yet had, friends not yet met, family members not yet known. If you’re going to wallow in the past, what was the point of not dying?

    Yes, new actors, new musicians arise, entering your extended family in much the same way that new children and nieces and nephews do. If they don’t move you, as you put it, it’s not their fault. They’re every bit as bright and shiny and full of passion as the ones you remember and love. Give them a chance!

    One of the best ways to learn to love new actors/authors/musicians/artists, by the way, is to enjoy them with others – but you’re out there, alone, on your island. Find someone – anyone, although preferably not too similar to yourself – to go to the movies with, and commit to going once a month, even just to see a Vaghn/Wilson comedy (they’re better than you think). Yes, really. Go into town, find the library, and join a book club! (I bet you could get into a book club.)

    And, while I’m on your case, you have plenty to teach. Find a high school that’s building a plane, and join in. Or find a shop teacher who’d like to do it, and launch the project. And, while you’re talking to the kids, I’ll bet they have interests beyond rap (remember an essay called Anywhere Is Okay?).

    You’re still alive, you haven’t stopped learning.

    So stop focusing on recycling memories and feeling lonely: find someone – anyone – and learn something with them.

    Life wants you. It’s not done with you yet.

    As a footnote, if you want inspirational entertainers, the current era has great actors (to name a few at random, Leonardo DiCaprio, Judy Dench, George Clooney, Amy Adams, Colin Firth, Cate Blanchett, Sean Penn, Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Helen Mirren, Ben Kingsley, Geoffrey Rush… and even Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson) and authors (try Colleen McCullough’s Rome series, or Scott Turow’s legal thrillers, or J.K. Rowling, or Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, James Patterson, John Grisham, Dan Brown, Michael Crichton, Ken Follett… and I’m still in the Fiction category… some of us enjoy Richard Bach and have even read Nevil Shute, and with your philosophical thoughts you might enjoy Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wayne Dyer, Harry Browne, or Jack Kornfield). And, sure, you’re never going to be a rap fan, but heck, if you give a listen, rapper Eminem has powerful things to say (his “Lose Yourself” is more accessible, if you’re new to rap).

  23. I work with a twenty-something who is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. One summer I had eighteen Rice University interns working with me, and they always completely restore my faith in them and in the future. I feel pretty comfortable knowing the world will be in their hands. They’re funny, smart, caring, and still appreciative of the music, art and literature of the past (including your works–I always share the Ferret Chronicles with them).
    As for rap, you must not have heard Jay Z’s rap interpretation of “It’s a Hard Knocks Life,” from Annie, to name just one. Rap has some of the best poetry I’ve ever heard. I could go on (e.g., their concern for the environment), but I don’t think that’s the point. I think I’m just resisting the resignation I think I hear in your blog, maybe because I recognize it, and know it may visit me from time to time, too, but that doesn’t make it the truth about the coming generations. It just makes it the truth about me. (p.s., the internet also says we have fewer dictators than we’ve ever had before.)

  24. I am about to embark on a new adventure. I’m selling my house close to my biological family and buying a house close to almost no one. There is a small town and a big valley, and what looks like a fabulous bookstore. I’m looking forward to creating some new family, some new memories with my old family. We are never too old, too stuck in the past to change. It just involves wanting to; being willing to stretch and take chances. Richard, your brain suffered an injury that often leads to depression and symptoms of PTSD. Be gentle with yourself, but consider some of the suggestions. I love the idea of contacting the local high school and sharing your love of flying with young people.

  25. Beloved Richard,

    you too are part of my family. I knew you through your JLS book in 1992, then I remember I rejoiced reading on one of my Seth books about your visits to Jane Roberts and Robert Butts during the Seth’s sessions.

    That unexpected connection made me strongly feel the soul links among us, even if I never met in person neither you nor Jane and Robert.

    Like you I’m also witnessing what seems to be the loosing of the pieces of my family, leaving me more and more alone in a land of strangers with whom I struggle to relate. But I suppose it’s just a kind of turning point, like many others. Something momentary, a knot in the pattern.

    Your JLS and BAF books ignited and fueled my spiritual quest. Now, here, I’ve the chance of saying “Thank you”. Thank you Richard for what you did and what you are. You gave it all to the world and helped more people that you could imagine.

    You are in my family, I’m in yours, like many others.

    Do receive this tight hug by your 42yo friend from Rome that, only for this moment in eternity, you can’t physically view.



  26. This is so touching. You managed in a truly peaceful way to honour the families that nourished your soul and talk of the new mores that are indeed less life affirming.
    Sharing a beautiful piece from another of my favourite authors…
    ‘One might say the instructions are in an invisible script which becomes slowly legible as life exposes it.
    Then the appropriate words only have to be spoken.
    On the whole the old don’t do badly.
    Pride is a great thing, and the necessary stances and the stoicisms are made easy because the young do not know- it is hidden from them- that the flesh withers around an unchanged core.
    The old share with each other ironies appropriate to ghosts at a feast, seen by each other but not the guests whose antics and posturings they watch smiling and remembering’
    Doris Lessing

  27. I lament the loss of the ones you are talking about Richard. I cannot embrace rap and the like because to me, it sounds awful. If the good words are there, I do not hear them. I hear discordant noise.

    I, too, am walking the path seeing what’s there and longing for a culture not controlled by drugs and violence. The sports and other public figures, heroes the kids look up to now, those who are paid the most, abuse their families, friends and the system. Fahrenheit 451 talked about censorship, as well, wiping out the words of those who do not agree with a certain way of being. Bradbury warned us where it would all lead. We are there.

    I am not disengaging either, but I am looking to adjust myself to a changing world on the brink of wiping itself out on all kinds of levels, including incessant war that does no good whatsoever.

    We need to be kind to each other. Reach up and learn the meaning of kindness, you said, Richard. Those words were/are golden. They guide my life now more than ever. Thank you for them.

    I go for my daily walk, look to the trees, but unlike the words in an old song, these trees listen to me. They are my friends. Their presence sets as kindness upon my heart. May all of us renew the application of kindness on a daily basis, starting with kindness to ourselves.

  28. All the imputes of the past made us who we are today and the imputes of the future are how we steer ourselves in the desired direction. Books are what make my mind and thoughts fresh and forward looking. I love fiction books that make me think and history, nature and mind growth books that fill gaps in knowledge and send my spirit to places I have never been. I have been greatly influence, all my life, by aviation and the people involved. Aviation now seems to be racing, hurry electric flying!, into the future with new technology requiring me to run to keep up. I love it.

  29. Richard, I fell in love with Illusions many years ago. That’s when you became part of my family, and my daughter later fell in love with Illusions many years later. Low and behold, her daughter told us at dinner last week she’s discovered the most enlightening book ever. We laughed when she asked if we’ve heard of Richard Bach and her wonderful “new discovery”, Illusions. She was initiated into the family, so you see, your family is growing without your even being aware. Please know that and how important your words still are to so many.

  30. Is that how it works? I cannot say for sure… but it does seem to be the way it’s working for me as well. I have turned away from many aspects of modern life in order to try to preserve my own sanity, such as politics and most media. It is a curious thing… as we age, we take our collective experience and what we have learned from it, and shape it into what we consider to be wisdom. Our brains continue to learn and evolve, and we understand reality differently than we did when we were young. We think we “know better”… and that may very well be true. There is a lot of what I see in today’s existence that has me angry, sad and scared. What makes this more complicated is that reality is indeed vastly different now than it was when we were young… and that can be said of every generation. I can surmise that when they were my age, my parents saw a lot in my world that made them angry, sad and scared. It’s easy to extrapolate that dynamic all the way down the ages to the dawn of sentient thought. We have grown and changed; so has the world, the galaxy, the universe. We can find comfort sometimes in the past, because it’s easier to understand, and to relate to. The universe of our youth is what helped direct who we have become. All generations try to figure it all out… and progress is always made… but since existence continues to continue, we’ll never reach the end… like the end of calculating pi, or perhaps a mobius strip. It’s like trying to set the GPS of an airliner while in flight. The plane has to be still to determine the exact initial coordinates… but it has to keep moving to stay in flight… so you can’t do it. So we’re left to look back in fondness at where we came from… distrust where we are, since we can’t fully grasp it… and can only guess where we’re going.
    That seems to be how it works… at least to me. What do I know? Good question… but a bad answer.

  31. Pingback: An author is an amateur who never quits. — Richard Bach |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *