When I woke in the hospital again, I was alone. The place was dismal. A little concrete room, one window to see the city of Seattle. Concrete everywhere, save for a glimpse of the Sound, a few trees, and way in the distance, the airport.
Was this part of my story? So much a struggle, this place. A year from now it would be a memory, but now it was now. I wanted to build myself up again, but not with these problems with doctors and nurses.
Never lived in a little warren like this, no room to walk, if I knew how to do that. Hour after hour, day after day, a wall-clock hummed, one showed the time, which Sabryna had taught me to read.
I was like an intelligent alien, knew nothing about this world, but I picked it up fast. Couldn’t stand up, didn’t have the strength to do that. Didn’t have the strength, thank goodness, to eat the hospital food.
This Is As Bad As It Can Get
My body had lost a lot of weight. I was starving without noticing. Muscles were non-existent... how had I lost so much of my body so quickly?
I had to build myself all over again, with no power to walk, if I knew how to do it, no food, no wish to learn what the hospital wanted me to do.
Yet somewhere, a spirit guide whispered that this is as bad as it could get. It didn’t mention that I could die any time, from the drugs or a lack of them. It told me it was all up to me, now. I had to scrape up the will to live and do something with it.
The bed was my gravestone. The longer I laid there, the weaker I’d become, until finally it would take all my energy to die.
It didn’t seem fair, that I was lying on a bed they could simply wheel into the morgue and call my case over. "Survived the crash, but the other things, complications, drugs, killed him."
Is Dying Worse or Better?
Would I have done better, just lying in the field by Puff? If this was better what would have been worse?
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Dying, it’s peace and joy. Dying is life! I could have laid with my airplane for a few hours and won the delight of dying. Mortals have so much to learn, they think dying is some foe, the worst of ends! Not at all, the poor things. Dying is a friend, bringing us back to life once again.
I struggled, though, just as if I were a mortal. I would not be a broken one. I had to learn to eat, learn to walk, learn to think and speak. How to run again, how to do calculations in my mind, how to take off in Puff again, fly anywhere, land so softly I’d hear the grass whisking on the tires again. Before that I had to learn to drive again, awfully more difficult, more dangerous than learning to fly again.
All those essential tasks were halted in my little cell in the hospital. Some physicians, some nurses, they thought this was a quiet place for the injured. They were kind people, the ones I knew.
I Need To Get Out Of Here!
Sabryna rented a room near the hospital to care for me. Every day she talked with me, listened to my wish to go home, told me one single reality, floating free from the dream: "You are a perfect expression of perfect Love, right here, right now. There is no permanent damage."
Without her steadfast awareness of the other side from medicines, would I have died? Yes.
How could I do it, exhausted, broken, unable to sit up more than 30 degrees without a back brace, a brace that hurt more than sitting up?
I found I had diseases that one can only contract in a hospital. It took eight lines here to list them. I wrote them, deleted them.
This person who so disliked physiology and biology that he skipped the courses in high school, was all of a sudden, boiled in the stews of a hospital.
Belief in Hospitals vs. Belief in Spirit?
Don’t tell me about medicines, I want none of them. Yet there I was, asked to take a whole spectrum of them from those who believed in hospitals instead of spirit, and meekly I did as requested.
Three months in a hospital! I stood this, learned to stand, thought about walking, until finally my willingness to carry my hunger strikes, my unwillingness to follow their wishes, my constant request that they please let me go home, was honored. I didn’t care whether letting me go home was death or life. Just let me go!
They gave a pass that transferred me to a hospice, as I was close to dying. They called it, "Failure to thrive."
Sabryna was outraged. "He will not die! He will have a perfect recovery! He’s going home!"
One of the doctors reluctantly changed the form: "Going home."
At last! Nor more wishing to die.
The Healing of Home
All at once I could look out familiar windows again, the islands about me, the birds, the sky, the clouds and the stars. A rented hospital bed, in my living room, but no streets, no concrete. Around me the books, two assistants here at home, cooking, caring.
How would Donald Shimoda have healed me, if I had asked for help? Knowing his truth, it would have taken no time, instant complete healing.
What do I have to do right now? No help from my friend, no help but my highest sense of right.
I thought about death. Like anyone, I had split-seconds, near misses, but never a long-term test of my highest right, nothing that pressed against me day after day with its suggestions:
"You can’t sit, you can’t stand, you can’t walk, you can’t eat (OK, you won’t eat), you can’t talk, you can’t think, don’t you know you’re helpless? Death is so sweet, no effort, you can let go, let it take you to another world. Listen to me. Death is not a sleep, it’s a new beginning."
Those are fine suggestions, when we’re desperately tired. When it seems impossible, it’s easiest to let a lifetime go.
Yet we shrug the suggestions away when we want to continue with a life that isn’t quite finished.
Practice Makes Perfect
What must I do, to live again? Practice.
Practice: I see myself as perfect, every second a new image of perfection, over and over and over, second after second.
Practice: My spiritual life is perfect right now. All day, every day, perfection always in my mind, knowing how perfect I am in spirit. I am a perfect expression of perfect Love, here and now.
Practice: Choose delight, that I am already perfect, now, a perfect portrait of my spiritual self. Always, ever, perfect. Love knows me this way, I do, too.
Practice: I am not a material human being. I am a perfect expression of perfect Love.
Practice: As I know this, the perfection of my spirit will affect my belief of body, change it to a mirror of spirit, free of the limits of the world.
Practice: The body is already perfect in spirit. Earth is a world that offers beliefs of illness. I decline them. I am a perfect expression of perfect Love.
Practice: It’s not the false beliefs that trouble us, it’s accepting them, gives them power. I deny that power, refuse it. I am a perfect expression of perfect Love.
Practice, over and over, never changing from a recognition of perfection. When do I stop practicing? Never.
I Am A Perfect Expression Of Perfect Love
At first I walked six steps, exhausted through the last three. I am a perfect expression of perfect Love.
Next day, twenty steps: I am a perfect expression of perfect Love.
Next day, a hundred and twenty: I am a perfect expression of Love.
At first I was dizzy standing up. It dissolved with practice, with constant repetition of what I knew for truth.
I am a perfect expression of perfect Love, right here, right now. There is no permanent damage.
Balance-practice, the little swiveling platform, and a fluffy foam pillow in the corner until I could stay upright, I am a perfect expression of perfect Love, without falling.
I switched from pajamas to street clothes, in time. I am a perfect expression, set my steps to an electric treadmill.
Two hundred steps one day,
Three hundred the next. A quarter-mile.
I began taking the Shelties, Maya and Zsa Zsa for their walks, a half mile on a rough dirt road, sloping down, slanting up again. I am an expression of perfect Love.
A mile... a perfect expression of perfect Love. Mile and a half. I am not separated from Love.
Two miles. I began running. I am a perfect expression.
The affirmations were real. Nothing else in the world, except my love for Sabryna, love for the Shelties.
Love is real. All else, dreams.
One after another, the medications were dropped, till at last there were none.
I am a perfect expression of perfect Love, right here, right now. There will be no permanent damage.
Mind Accepts Words As True
It wasn’t the words, it was their effect on my mind. Every time I said them, or Sabryna did, I saw myself as a perfect being, and my mind accepted it for true.
I didn’t care about the appearance of my physical body. I saw a different self, spiritual and perfect, over and over again.
Seeing that, feeling it, I became my perfect spirit, and the spirit did something, some byproduct in my belief of a body, that mirrored the spiritual me.
Do I know the way it works? Not a clue. Spirit lives beyond illusions, heals our belief in them.
My job is to allow its truth, to stand out of spirit’s way. Is that so difficult?
Subtitles by InnerSelf
©2013 by Richard Bach.
Reprinted with permission of the author.
Illusions II: The Adventures of a Reluctant Student
by Richard Bach.
About the Author
A former USAF pilot, gypsy barnstormer and airplane mechanic, Richard Bach is the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions, One, The Bridge Across Forever, and numerous other books. Most of his books have been semi-autobiographical, using actual or fictionalized events from his life to illustrate his philosophy. In 1970, Jonathan Livingston Seagull broke all hardcover sales records since Gone with the Wind. It sold more than 1,000,000 copies in 1972 alone. A second book, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, was published in 1977. Visit Richard's website at www.richardbach.com