Pen To Paper: 'Illusions' - The Adventures Of A Reluctant Messiah

Pen To Paper: 'Illusions' - The Adventures Of A Reluctant Messiah

A review of The Travels of a Hesitant Messiah by Richard Bach. You might come away wanting more thought-provoking novels! Speaking about his imagined meeting with the Messiah, Bach suggests that Christ decided to take on the role of a common man and mechanic. Know more.

Devanshi JindalUpdated: Sunday, April 14, 2024, 04:00 PM IST
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Devanshi Jindal | File

What if I told you that you could walk on water or make that coffee cup hover in air? It seems illusory, right? Well, in his book "Illusions," Richard Bach, the renowned author of “Jonathon Livington Seagull”, explores this very idea, a speculation into our conception of reality and being.

Incidentally, I came upon Illusions a few years ago, having never heard of it before, and I believe it deserves more acclaim than what it got. A teenager might ask, Why would I read a philosophical book, dropping the thrillers, romances, and teen fiction?

“If you practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats," is an excerpt from what Richard has to say in his book. So, let’s talk after you’ve read the book.

Full disclosure: it might leave you hungry for more provocative books! Articulating his imagination of an encounter with the Messiah, Bach proposes Christ choosing to live the life of an everyday man and mechanic. Being a pilot himself, it isn’t implausible that he imagines the Messiah as a biplane pilot, giving 10 minute rides for $3. Richard comes upon him one day while flying his fleet. Down below in the lemon-emerald hay stood an old Travel Air 4000, gold and white. In its cockpit sat a man who had a mysterious air about him, one who’d been waiting for him.

Gradually, Bach notices things that strike him as odd, quite inexplicable to say. How do you explain a plane flying for 8 hours without having to refuel, spotless and pristine, without a single bug on the eight-foot blade of the propeller? Having found a flying buddy in Donald Shimoda, Bach consequently embarked on a journey that changed the course of his life.

Some subtleties struck a chord in my heart, like the fact that the fact that the Messiah is reluctant to be worshipped, because he realizes that he could preach all day long, but the people would be interested only in his miracles. And if you think about it, dear reader, how many of us would care about understanding the simplicity in the complexity of natural laws, when we could reap their magical gifts in the name of miracles?

Bach is to be commended for turning the story of two pilots who meet by chance, into an allegory with timeless analogies of reality and life, most certainly with a tinge of humor too. You might have wondered sometimes how much your life is like that film you watched last week, but certainly not in the way Bach puts it.

This book is such a profound, thought-provoking read that every page has a new lesson for you, in the form of a collection of maxims and short paragraphs in ‘The Messiah’s Handbook’, handed by Shimoda to Bach. “Argue for your limitations, and surely they are yours.” Quotes like these highlight the power of belief as something not traditionally bound to God.

If we only care to look, the abundance of wisdom that hides in our subconscious will reveal itself, and truly open our minds to what ‘belief’ can wrought. You’ll find the book dealing with some fundamental questions of philosophy, like: What is reality? Does God exist? Is time dimensional? Such questions have been puzzling scientists for years, so grappling with the abstract concepts as you leaf through the pages is accounted for.

More so, this book might not be for the eyes of the unquestioning followers of Jesus, who might not like the idea of him being anything other than his ethereal self in robes, a youthful apollo-like deity, and subsequently not agree with every word Bach has weaved into his story.

This little black book, a feather softly glossing its cover, has the perfect touch of a twist at the end and, I must say, successfully achieves its purpose of turning the gears of our mind to look beyond a horizon we didn’t know existed.

(This review is part of the winning reviews published in the Pen to Paper contest hosted by The Free Press Journal annually . This exclusive contest is open to teenagers only)

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