"You teach best what you most need to learn." -- Richard Bach
Richard David Bach (born 23 June 1936) is an American writer. He is widely known as the author of the hugely popular 1970s best-sellers Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, and others. His books espouse his philosophy that our apparent physical limits and mortality are merely appearance. He claims to be a direct descendant of Johann Sebastian Bach. He is noted for his love of flying and for his books related to air flight and flying in a metaphorical context. He had pursued flying as a hobby since the age of 17.
"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.""Allow the world to live as it chooses, and allow yourself to live as you choose.""Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they're yours.""Ask yourself the secret of your success. Listen to your answer, and practice it.""Avoid problems, and you'll never be the one who overcame them.""Bad things are not the worst things that can happen to us. Nothing is the worst thing that can happen to us!""Can miles truly separate you from friends... If you want to be with someone you love, aren't you already there?""Civilization... wrecks the planet from seafloor to stratosphere.""Don't be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.""Don't believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you'll see the way to fly.""Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you don't have anything to learn from them.""Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness.""Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.""Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.""Get this in mind early: We never grow up.""Happiness is the reward we get for living to the highest right we know.""Here is a test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't.""Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't.""I don't want to do business with those who don't make a profit, because they can't give the best service.""I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth it?""I want to be very close to someone I respect and admire and have somebody who feels the same way about me.""If it's never our fault, we can't take responsibility for it. If we can't take responsibility for it, we'll always be its victim.""If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were.""If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats.""If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem.""In order to live free and happily you must sacrifice boredom. It is not always an easy sacrifice.""In order to win, you must expect to win.""In the United States Christmas has become the rape of an idea.""It is by not always thinking of yourself, if you can manage it, that you might somehow be happy. Until you make room in your life for someone as important to you as yourself, you will always be searching and lost.""Jonathan is that brilliant little fire that burns within us all, that lives only for those moments when we reach perfection.""Learning is finding out what you already know.""Listen to what you know instead of what you fear.""Live never to be ashamed if anything you say or do is published around the world, even if what is said is not true.""Not being known doesn't stop the truth from being true.""Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.""Rarely do members of the same family grow up under the same roof.""Some choices we live not only once but a thousand times over, remembering them for the rest of our lives.""Strong beliefs win strong men, and then make them stronger.""The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.""The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life.""The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.""The meaning I picked, the one that changed my life: Overcome fear, behold wonder.""The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.""The simplest questions are the most profound. Where were you born? Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these once in a while and watch your answers change.""The simplest things are often the truest.""There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they're necessary to reach the places we've chosen to go.""To bring anything into your life, imagine that it's already there.""To fly as fast as thought, you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.""True love stories never have endings.""What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.""You are always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.""You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.""You are never given a wish without being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.""You don't want a million answers as much as you want a few forever questions. The questions are diamonds you hold in the light. Study a lifetime and you see different colors from the same jewel.""Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully.""Your friends will know you better in the first minute you meet than your acquaintances will know you in a thousand years.""Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Being true to anyone else or anything else is not only impossible, but the mark of a fake messiah."
He attended Long Beach State College in 1955. He has authored numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970), Illusions (1977), One (1989), and Out of My Mind (1999). Most of his books have been semi-autobiographical, using actual or fictionalized events from his life to illustrate his philosophy.
He served in the Navy Reserve, then later in the New Jersey Air National Guard's 108th Fighter Wing, 141st Fighter Squadron (USAF) as a F-84F pilot. Afterwards, he worked a variety of jobs, including technical writer for Douglas Aircraft and contributing editor for Flying magazine. He served in the USAF reserve deployed in France in 1960. He later became a barnstormer. Most of his books involve flight in some way, from the early stories which are straightforwardly about flying aircraft, to Stranger to the Ground, his first book, to his later works, in which he used flight as a philosophical metaphor.
In 1970, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story about a seagull who flew for the love of flying rather than merely to catch food, was published by Macmillan Publishers after the manuscript was turned down by many other publishers. The book, which included unique photos of seagulls in flight by photographer Russell Munson, became a number-one bestseller. The book contained fewer than 10,000 words, yet it broke all hardcover sales records since Gone with the Wind. It sold more than 1,000,000 copies in 1972 alone. The surprise success of the book was widely reported in the media in the early 1970s.
During the summer of 1970 Bach, and his friend Chris Cagle, travelled to Ireland where they participated in flying sequences supporting Roger Corman's film Von Richthofen and Brown. Here they flew a variety of World War One aircraft of the Blue Max collection owned by ex-RCAF pilot Lynn Garrison. Bach originally met Garrison when he wrote articles for AVIAN, Lynn Garrison's aviation publication.
In 1973, the book was turned into a movie, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, produced by Paramount Pictures Corporation. The movie included a soundtrack by Neil Diamond.
A second book, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, published in 1977, tells the story of the narrator's encounter with a modern-day messiah who has decided to quit.
Bach has retained a dedicated fan base throughout the years. During the 1990s, Bach appeared online at Compuserve, where he answered e-mails personally. Bach was interviewed in April, 2005 on Conscious Talk Radio, and this interview was replayed a few times in 2006. Click here to download it.
Bach had six children with his first wife, Bette. Bette typed and edited most of Richard's aviation writings. They divorced in 1970, because Richard didn't believe in marriage. Bette Bach Fineman, who remarried, is also a pilot, and the author of Patterns, about her life as a pilot and single mother. Their son, Jonathan, is a software engineer and journalist, who wrote Above the Clouds about growing up without knowing his father, Richard; and then later meeting him as a college student. (Richard gave his approval; although he noted that it included some personal history he'd "rather not see in print"). Other children are Robert, a commercial airline pilot; Kristel; James, a computer expert and writer; and Erika. His youngest daughter, Bethany, was killed in an accident at the age of fifteen in 1985.
In 1977 Bach married actress Leslie Parrish whom he met during the making of the Jonathan Livingston Seagull movie. She was a major element in two of his subsequent books...The Bridge Across Forever and One...which primarily focused on their relationship and Bach's concept of soulmates. They divorced amicably in 1999. Bach was married to his third wife, Sabryna Nelson-Alexopoulos in April 1999.