Don’t mistake me. Nothing would thrill me more than to watch a glass of water move mysteriously across a table, or see an inexplicable object streak across the night sky. I have a deep chagrin that nothing like this has ever manifested itself to me. Even if I were to be attacked by some malevolent spirit, or abducted by beings from Alpha Centauri, such a terrifying experience would still be tempered by the knowledge that I was witness to something, anything, para (“outside”) normal.
I know many people who have experienced such things, from pictures of their dead mothers inexplicably falling off mantels and bodies refusing to rot, to lights chasing each other in the sky. Some of these people’s word I take with a grain of salt, others’ I have no reason to disbelieve. They are intelligent, trustworthy people I have known for many years who have sworn that what they have seen is absolutely true. But, nevertheless, until I have seen or experienced such a thing for myself, and seen that there can be no rational explanation for it, I cannot believe.
I suppose such things can be broadly categorised as “psychic abilities” (something I am highly sceptical about – perhaps, perhaps, perhaps under extreme duress and in the most exceptional of circumstances a person might effect the physical world with nothing but their thoughts, but otherwise, no), “contact with the dead” (I suspect we do nothing more than rot in the ground once we are dead, and that any ideas to the contrary are just people mewling in the face of oblivion, but I do not know), and “UFOs” (this to me seems the most probable. Certainly it is a mathematical certainty that technologically advanced life lives elsewhere in the universe. Whether they’re visiting Earth, and whether it’s possible to travel faster than light in some fashion, is another matter entirely). Of these, “contact with the dead” and “UFOs” are by far the most exciting to me. Really though, these are simply contact with the ‘other,’ and my wishing for this is nothing more than my own mewling in the face of my own insignificance and mortality.
Skepticism and rationality is presented as enough. Why look to a life beyond this one, when life itself, here and now, both existentially and biologically, is so stupendously amazing? This is true, but life shorn of the palimpsest of imagination that we have been laying down for thousands of years is certainly arid sometimes.