UFO’s? or Rocks? You be the judge.
By Alex Call
We went out to dinner the other night to a restaurant that was in a converted old movie theater. A new space had been created from the brick shell of the building. The hip (and somewhat toasted) chef came by our table and we started chatting. He said that the building was haunted, and proceeded to tell us tales of the dark basement, of two little girls in clothes of another day seen sometimes in the balcony, and things that generally go bump in the night.
He wanted to believe in ghosts. He did believe, beyond belief: Ghosts exist! Many, many people believe in ghosts. Ghosts go with religion, so that’s natural. We humans can’t answer the most basic existential questions, so we tend to accept what others have passed from the past as “gospel”. Religions generally feature afterlives (you can live forever!), and ghosts are poor, lost souls that have fallen through the cracks of the foundations of Faith. Besides, ghosts are fun- in a buttered popcorn and a medium-sized–soda-kind-of-way. We have a need to believe, not a reason, so we construct edifices of belief that give us comfort, a place to go: scary, but also fun and exciting, a safety valve from the pressure of the relentless glare of realty’s searing light.
Let’s face it, reality is harsh: we live and die without a real owner’s manual to guide us through the process of life, without an absolute knowledge of what this is all about. OK, I know, I know: many of you will say, “WAIT! We have ______! (name your deity) Have Faith: this is the Way!” Well, that’s belief, and may it serve you well. But it’s not truth, because the truth is no one knows what the truth is.
We love to believe in things that really shouldn’t exist, like ghosts, Sasquatches, UFO’s, Loch Ness Monsters, rains of frogs, vampires, Yetis, and the like. Angels help us; demons plague us. God saves us, the Devil damns us. We find our futures in tarot cards, fortune cookies, and astrology. Our bodies are healed by meditation, yoga, and expensive mud baths and massage. New cars and perfect hair sooth us and make us feel grounded and safe.
We think that ancient man (who was exactly like us, by the way) could never have built the Pyramids, Stonehenge, and Machu Pichu without the help of Ancient Astronauts. “Experts” in Alien-ology point out that those gigantic blocks of stone could never have been carved or moved without the aid of Alien technologies. What’s funny to me about this is that when I look at these ancient edifices, and they are impressive, I see very much the hand of man, imperfect, but striving towards something. If Aliens could engineer spacecraft, couldn’t they have cut uniform stones? Why did they make some things so crudely? Hmmm. Could it be that men did the best they could? No one says that the Gothic cathedrals of France, the Roman Forum, the Parthenon, or the Empire State Building are anything other than works of man. How did the stone masons carve the incredible sculptures of Chartres? I’ll tell you how: they worked their asses off at it, just the way that Neolithic builders hoisted the stones of Stonehenge, the way that Egyptians ramped up and built the Pyramids.
Ghost hunters probe spooky old buildings with flashy spooktrometers, infrared cameras, and white-noise analyzers. They collate their data, but never find anything. I keep waiting. Sasquatch hunting is an industry, with field researchers in Gore-Tex, pushing through tangled, dark forests and clambering up dripping crags. Never mind that no deer hunter has ever shot one. People shoot everything, folks; if one was out there, it’d be dead and on display on Jay Leno. Nessie has sold many a T-shirt and kept Scotland’s pubs open for decades (nothing in the lake but salmon). Seekers meditate, seek wise masters, do yoga, and cleanse their bodies; we still all get old and die and sometimes drunk, divorced, and bankrupt in the process. We pray to Heaven to intercede for us, but things go our way or they don’t; it’s hard to tell why.
Humans have brains that are capable of analytic thought. We can figure things out. We also are able to bring people together to build massive things, from Stone Rings to skyscrapers. We can codify religion and philosophy, forms of law and governance. We tell stories that take ahold of people’s minds and emotions. We build, we destroy, and we pass on, usually not leaving a diary or a blueprint.
All this real stuff is very exciting to me. I wish that UFO’s. Bigfoots (feet?), and Levitating Masters existed. I would love to see a Nessie or a rain of frogs. But what I really like is the fact that humans did build Stonehenge and the Pyramids, the Gothic Cathedrals and the Parthenon and the great wall, The Mounds along the Mississippi, and Saturn rockets, and the Skyline of New York. We did all this. No aliens needed, though they’re welcome to visit if they want to be nice aliens.
The actual truth is more exciting than aliens. We need to give ourselves credit when credit is due; it often enough is not due. We also make war and kill without need.
Take a look at the real wonders of this incredible, unexplainable planet and drench yourself in the glory of a common deer, an old church, a satellite passing overhead, a thunderstorm, a graveyard decked with lonely flowers, an Interstate Highway, a cheeseburger, a garden, a mountain, a baseball stadium, your children, or your pets. It’s pretty dang amazing without bigfoots.
As for those UFO’s, I wouldn’t mind seeing one (that Aliens genetically engineered humans is my personal favorite crackpot theory) but until then….I think they’re rocks…