Crash-Tested

My Dad was in a crash yesterday when landing his airplane. 

He survived and is recovering in a Seattle hospital as I write this. 

When my brother Rob told me, I wanted details, and they were sketchy.  He crashed in Lake Whatcom, no, he crashed in a field in Eastsound.  He was alone, no, he was with another pilot.  He was in a coma, no, just sedated. 

I guess like everyone else, I wanted enough information to decide if he was going to be ok.  Maybe the sooner I knew he was going to be ok, the sooner I would know if *I* was going to be ok.

And that’s what many people around the world want right now with their well wishes and prayers for Dad.

Actually, they can find the answer at the heart of every book he has written.

“Am I going to be ok?”  Flip to the end, the answer is usually “yes”, even if the main character dies a few pages before reaching the back cover.

I think Dad would agree that whether the answer to “Am I going to be ok?” is yes or no, lies a test.  It’s not the answer that matters, but the pursuit of the answer.

Testing is that pursuit.

Dad knows I have made a great living as a software tester for a long time, and he thinks it a fitting career choice, especially given my seagull namesake.

“What is the truth?” or “What might the truth be under different circumstances?” is akin to “Where are the bugs?” or “How might this software cause problems for our customers?”

Seventeen years as a software tester has taught me that a problem is the difference between what you want and what you get.  If they are the same, there’s no problem. 

There are so many quotes from Dad that I could use in metaphor for this, but the ones that come to mind are from Illusions, particularly these excerpts from the “Messiah’s Handbook”:

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands.

and

Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.

Dad is alive.

I credit him with having taught me the value of seeing Coincidence.

And, true-to-form, as soon as I typed that, I stopped to give my eyes a rest from the screen.

I looked up at the TV. 

CNN was playing an interview with George Bush senior (president from ’88 to ’92).

They showed him driving a boat very fast, and he said:

“I’ve been in boats all my life. You learn the currents, you learn the shoal waters. That’s where I’m at peace, I just love it. With boats, I’m still in the game. I’m privileged to have a very fast boat a very powerful boat — everyone wants to go on it — it’s a wonderful, wonderful outlet for me.”

For my Dad, it is airplanes and writing.

Now that he’s injured, his ability to do those is in jeopardy.

There’s a test for him.

I don’t know if he’ll be ok, or to what extent, but there’s comfort for me in knowing he’s made a good living writing stories that show the world that the answer can be “yes”.

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36 Responses to “Crash-Tested”

  1. kbshannon Says:

    This sounds like a seasoned therapist who never ceases from doing his own inner work, so he can bring his best game to others.

  2. Ann Tracy Mueller Says:

    Beautiful post, Jon. You learned from the best. Testing or writing — you soar, just like your namesake. As for that Bush clip — Coincidence? Nothing by chance. Jon. Keeping your Dad and the rest of you in my prayers. Ann

  3. caveocavicautum Says:

    The answer can be yes, and I hope it will be in this case. Our prayers are with you and your loved ones.

  4. joey Says:

    i proudly count myself amongst the those fortunate enough to recognize how truly rare and significant a man your father is. reading this post, it’s plain to see plenty of that very light shining behind the words. very, very best wishes! joey

  5. Vernon Richards Says:

    Sending positive thoughts to you and yours, especially Mr Bach.

  6. John Blood Says:

    Jon, nice Blog, I hope all goes well with your Dad and his recovery. Best wishes.

  7. veretax Says:

    Yes, good post, we’ll be praying for a successful recovery for your father.

  8. Ken S. Lisle Says:

    our biggest fears are usually with what we will lose. your words remind me of what I already have, and that our future is not a promise of things we might have or lose. I’ve gone thru a lot in life, not as bad as most, but more than usual the past several years with the inspiration of a seagull keeping me going since the 70’s, and it seems fitting that by chance I find an article on this event the other day to awaken my spirit once more and reassess my own life. our prayers, well wishes, & good thoughts are passed on to your father’s speedy & positive recovery. thank you for your insight & assurance.

  9. debbie Wright Says:

    the words he has written have taught me my strength comes from within Hoping for his speedy recovery.

  10. Kristelle Says:

    Jon, you’ve captured the elusive shadows of my own thoughts, and crafted them perfectly into this post.

    Thank you for processing this experience faster than I could, and for expressing what I could not yet write.

  11. Victoria Bowring Says:

    Jon, Your father’s writings have inspired me over and over again, because I read them over and over again. Will think of him and you and your family during his recover. He, no doubt, was doing exactly what he loved doing most when he had this horrible incident occur. Regardless of the outcome – I hope that brings you some comfort.

  12. jhannarobison Says:

    Awesome, Jon, thanks. Here’s to successful recovery for your dad, whatever that ‘recovery’ may be. Blessings…

  13. Jerry Says:

    Jon, when I heard of the accident many of the past words he had written came to mind… a poem also came to mind, one written by Rainer Maria Relki…

    “A Walk”

    My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
    going far ahead of the road I have begun.
    So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
    it has inner light, even from a distance-

    and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
    into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
    we already are; a gesture waves us on
    answering our own wave…
    be what we feel is the wind in our faces.

    His words have allowed many of us to touch that sunny hill…

    I agree with you… everything will be ok
    Jerry

  14. cuteyellowchamp Says:

    Very good writting, Jon, I was reminded of a short text from your father, Perspectives (from A Gift of Wings), which I think of often. I keep remembering Richard in a recent video saying “boy this is fun!”. I hope he will be able to feel like that again soon. Sending best wishes from across the ocean. Alex

  15. Hugh Says:

    Jon. Your father introduced me to flying…and much else over 40 years ago. No matter what happens he’ll still fly and we’ll fly with him. Thank you for the update.

  16. Judi Wohlman Says:

    Thank you for sharing your insights with us all Jon. I’m sure he will fly high again soon. Your father’s unique way of sharing an idea brought millions of people to understanding the many splinters that reality can be. I have gifted “illusions” more times than I can count, to plant seeds in my loved ones. Perhaps this “accident” will provide a surge that will help with some bills. Aloha from Hawaii Jon and Richard. Take the pain meds, that’s what they are there for!

  17. LunaJune Says:

    thanks Jon…..thinking of you all

  18. Jeri Johnson Says:

    Jon: I just read the news of your dad’s accident. I have never been a Richard Bach facebook friend until today. I am so happy that Dixie posted your blog.-Somehow, I needed to know “you” were okay too. Years ago, I considered your dad to be a guru of sorts.-I wanted to get to a place in my heart and my spirit where I could also learn the lessons he seemed to be sharing with his readers. I prayed for transformation. Low and behold if I did not end up out on Orcas Island, and I did not know your dad had lived out there.–While I lived out on Orcas I checked out a book from the Eastsound library that you had written. It hurt me to read that this man (your dad) was not this incredibly loving and enlightened “guru-like” man I had built him up to be in my mind.–I learned he too was just a man with the same struggles as me, but he like me had an inner spiritual being that was just AMAZING, and so in-tune with something more than than this earthly world.–Although I was disappointed and kind of let down in some ways by reading your book as well as hearing some of not so guru-like stories about your dad from fellow residents on Orcas….. I began to realize I was given a gift in knowing your dad was (and is) “just a man”, who was (and is) no more or no less enlightened than the rest of us. I knew I had built an illusion around him, and he did not ask for that….And, in fact what he wrote about was learning to recognize life’s illusions, and to quit treating others as ‘your’ messiahs.–I truly turned completely off to all your dad’s writings and his messages after reading your book until today when I read he had been in a plane crash.–There was this all to familiar feeling about your dad in your book, because I too have struggled with major issues with my own dad. I now have come to peace with that relationship, and no matter how my dad acts and what has happened in the past I have to remain loving towards me first, and then try to be loving and forgiving towards him too. (And, I hope my dad feels the same love and forgiveness towards me that I do him.–We are imperfect humans who make mistakes who have hurt and disappointed each other many times through out our lives.)–Anyway, from your blog post I am realizing you are feeling the same sense of love and forgiveness about your very human dad. I want to thank you so much for sharing this blog with us/me.–I am glad you have come to peace with your relationship with your dad too.—My thoughts are for you to continue to heal.—And, right now my thoughts are with your dad to continue to heal his body, mind, and spirit too.–Oddly, the Richard Bach quotes that you quoted in your blog are the very two quotes that came quickly to my mind too. I know your dad will be okay.–He helped to teach me about my own spirit, and my capability for transformations and healing. He also helped to guide me to know all that happens is part of the plan, and it can and it will transform me if I allow it to.—-Loving blessings to you and yours Jon.–PS: If you ever get out to Cascade Lake and walk, please know my energy is still swirling around all over out there….Walking around Cascade Lake was my healing walk, and I walked around it rain or shine many times for a few years when I lived out on Orcas. Many magical things happened on Orcas for me, especially on my walks around Cascade Lake.–Oh. how I miss my beloved Orcas Island…..But, I have this wonderful souvenir from the islands…..”My 14 year old son!”—And, the cycle of life and its transformation continues.–Now, I have to remind my son, I am his mom, but I am very human too….And, he should not judge me to harshly for all that I do or do not do. He should only know I love him….And, love is the only thing that is NOT an illusion.

    • Kristelle Says:

      Jeri, I must say that your post here is, in my opinion, one of the most balanced ones I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot in the last few days). It includes both sides: the magical, inspirational, led-by-Light aspect and the challenging, frustrating, led-by-Ego side. We all have these sides, naturally, and it seems to be the human experience to live them both.

      Thanks for recognizing the side in this story that few have seen. It’s not the whole story, of course, but neither is the other.

      • Leah Shaper Says:

        Jeri and Kristelle- Thank you both for posting these really important comments… this is only further enlightening. One very important lesson I have learned in my life is that there is no happiness without pain, no enlightenment without ignorance. 1s don’t exist without 0s, lightness does not exist with darkness, white doesn’t exist with black… I’m sure the lessons I learned from Richard’s writings had quite a bit to do with understanding that.

  19. Paul Lange Says:

    Very nice post and I think you are spot on. I’ve read your Dad’s books, and Illusions in particular changed my life. When I heard your Dad was injured, I knew in my heart, that he would be in a place and experience whatever he and those around him need to experience. Of course I don’t know what those things are, but everyone will grow from it as painful and beautiful as it may ultimately be. Hang in there Jon!

  20. tarasinherheadagain Says:

    Thank you for your post. I know I’m but one of many around the world, sending out positive thoughts and prayers for Richard and your entire family. It’s clear that you share your father’s depth and gift with words. All will definitely be okay. Blessings to you and yours.

  21. Anne Kilgore Says:

    Thank You So Much for your lovely Post Jon. I feel so much better for reading it. I am sure Richard will be able to fly and write for many years. I am so looking forward to his recovery. I, and I know we All Send Him So Much Love.

  22. Richard Bach Injured in Plane Crash - GalleyCat Says:

    […] brother Jon Bach also posted a longer message online for fans of his father. He wrote: Actually, they can find the answer at the heart of every book he has […]

  23. Lori In Texas Says:

    What a wise and wonderful post, Jon. Thank you.

  24. Andrea V. Paradiso Says:

    Dear Jon—so obvious that so many of us are “here” with you…and I am truly glad you are “there” with Richard Bach. My Mother went on not too long ago. She was—is?—my best friend. I’m sure you both are and will be forever grateful for the opportunity you’ve given each other to love one another and be friends.I am forever grateful to him and all of his own for being in my life. Love, light, peace, power.

  25. Jeanne Hounshell Says:

    Your Dad is OK and much more no matter the outcome of this particular chapter. Because there’s nothing else to be. I, too, hold you all in prayer–that each of you (and us who care) find the blessing and know that you are surrounded in love–human and divine.

  26. AJ Says:

    Jon thank you and thank you to your Dad. He will find joy in whatever he does. Changes do not always give advance notice, they sometimes just happen. He will be fine and in soaring adventure as he heals and in discovering more joy wherever he is.

  27. Gail Says:

    I’m thinking of you, your family, and especially your dad.

  28. Leah Shaper Says:

    Jon- Thank you for posting and the updates about your father. As I’m sure many followers have also said, his writing has been a wildly enormous source of inspiration since I was a teeenager, and for me personally, a huge contributor to the foundation of my beliefs and thoughts about the world. I have read everything he’s written, and those books occupy the most prized place on my bookshelf. He continues to occupy that very important place in my growth as an individual, the people I share my life with, and my world at large, and regardless of the outcome of his recovery (which I am incredibly hopeful for), he will continue to do so. I wish you and your family the very best of strength, spirit, healing, and hope. Leah

  29. ronisenepomuceno Says:

    Dear Jonathan, I wasn’t sure if I should post a comment or not, as we never met. But as someone who read your Dad’s books and your own book, which was written with so much honesty of feelings, I just want to express my sympathies to you and your family. Whatever happens, your Dad was doing what he loves most.

  30. Rye Says:

    my prayers are with you and your family.

  31. Ken S. Lisle Says:

    your father & family are still in all of our hearts & spirits, most I’m sure know the toll of having a loved one in ICU takes on a family. Hope spirits stay up, as with the “flock” we are “here”, “NOW”…

  32. Perspectives on Testing » The Seapine View Says:

    […] He opines that testing, like knowing whether or not a loved on lived through an accident, is the pursuit of truth.Elisabeth Hendrickson’s (a.k.a. “TestObsessed”) new book on exploratory testing is available […]

  33. carolinenichol Says:

    Jon, thank you for keeping us updated, so glad to hear he’s out of icu. I feel peace knowing he’s better.

  34. carolinenichol Says:

    Jon thanks once again for the update on your dad’s condition. I thought you would find it interesting to read the following in reference to your dad’s writing. His words have dropped into my life here and there and now and then since 1973. I am just dipping my toe into twittering (erm..tweeting); but of course this is way too long to tweet, so thought I would post it here.

    Last July, Richard’s works once again dropped back into my life X 2. Once to answer a question posed to me; the answer best said by Richard’s words from Illusions:
    If a man told God that he wanted most of all to help the suffering world, no matter the price to himself, and God answered and told him what he must do, should the man do as he is told?
    Of course, cried the many. It should be pleasure for him to suffer the tortures of hell itself, should God ask for it.

    No matter what those tortures, nor how difficult the task?

    Honor to be hanged, glory to be nailed to a tree and burned, if so be that God has asked, said they.

    And what would you do, The Master said unto the multitude, if God spoke directly to your face and said, I command that you be happy in the world, as long as you live. What would you do then?

    And the multitude was silent, not a voice, not a sound was heard upon the hillsides, across the valleys where they stood.

    And the Master said unto the silence, In the path of our happiness shall we find the learning for which we have chosen this lifetime. So it is that I have learned this day, and choose to leave you now to walk your own path as you please.

    The 2nd time in August, when Richard’s words popped into my head was when a loved one was struggling with some of life’s more difficult concepts. My answer to them was to send JLS, Illusions, and There’s No Such Place as Far Away. These 3 books answer every question worth asking and then some. I happily replaced my copies of the books I donated to my friends.

    Prior to that, a few months ago, I was very pleased to have found his website to post my most heartfelt thanks for showing me a flock I didn’t know existed, and proving to me with every word I read, that I do belong, that there IS a flock for me. You see, this thanks has been a long time coming from all the way back to 1973 when my church youth group took us to see the movie, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Beyond priceless, because watching JLS in that movie theater launched me on my own journey of understanding.

    Since Richard’s accident, I puzzle to myself why I am hanging on every possible word on his condition. Rationally, I don’t know Richard and he certainly doesn’t know me. However, after years of reading his words and his stories, and laughing and crying my way through them, I have developed an attachment to him that’s hard to explain. For someone who is as private as he’s reported to be, yet at the same time so willing to share all that he has through his many books, he has sacrificed privacy to do so. So in a sense I understand the closing down of his facebook pages and his website since the accident.

    In a much smaller scale, it’s sort of like what happens when my husband meets people for the 1st time in person in the exam room; they have read his pet behavior column in the Albuquerque Journal every Friday for the past 16 years. They feel like they “know” him as they have laughed and cried their way through his columns for all those years as well. For him it’s a special thing to know that he has touched so many people’s lives over the years; and it’s very gratifying for him. If something were to happen to him I know many people would be interested in his continued wellbeing too. His followers and believers are part of his flock.

    Richard doesn’t owe us (his readers) anything; but if/when he wants to tell us in RB style the details of his adventure he would have a rapt audience. Thank you for continuing to keep us informed of his progress. It gives me peace. Thanks, Carolyn

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