Thursday, January 10, 2019

Do You Believe?

I once talked to a woman who told me that she had seen a leprechaun. She was from Scotland and was visiting Ireland when this happened. She said that she had just finished touring a particular site, although I can't remember if it was a castle or an historic home, and saw a leprechaun standing at the side of the path. She thought it was one of the most adorable little statues she had ever seen, but wondered why it was wearing a blue suit instead of the iconic green one that proper Irish leprechauns wear. And as she stood there staring at it, wondering about its clothing, it walked away and disappeared into the nearby underbrush. This woman was in healthcare. She did years of arduous and scientific study to achieve her position, and she was neither flighty nor prone to hallucinations. But she saw a leprechaun. And I believe her.

I believe there are all sorts of wonders on this planet that we don't know anything about, but sometimes are allowed to get a glimpse. And I feel sorry for all of those people who unhesitatingly snap that such things do not exist and that anyone who sees or experiences something like this is mistaken or crazy or both.

Someone once said to me rather wistfully that he wished he could expand his mind enough to shift his perspective, or something along those lines. I figured he meant he wished he could find it in himself to open up to things that were unexplained. I gather that means that he can't; that he has a knee-jerk response to anything out of the everyday that puts a kabosh on him being able to accept that it could be true. And I think that's amazingly sad. I would struggle to put a cap on my thinking like that. I must be like the Ghostbusters - "ready to believe." Maybe I'm super-gullible, but no one's ever sold me snake oil. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I don't think so. My degree was also heavily based in science. 

Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Of course, if you have a brain like Einstein's, you can say something like that and no one is going to call you a fool. At least, not to your face. But maybe he was on to something?

Because of what I do and where I tend to go, I usually am around people who believe what I believe, or are at least open-minded to the idea that leprechauns and other little people, Bigfoot and other types of creatures, ghosts and other sorts of paranormal beings, all exist. When I meet someone who can't even admit the possibility, I find it fascinating as much as I find it to be sad. Did they grow up in a family where talk about these kinds of things was squashed immediately? Did something happen to disillusion them so badly that any thing that can't be seen, touched, or otherwise tangibly experienced can't exist? Were they lied to so badly and repeatedly that they can't take someone else's word for it, even if that someone is a practicing dentist? (I knew a dentist who saw Bigfoot while out in Oregon.)

My father was a doctor and as hard-core a skeptic as you could find. I think he figured I was a little mad, but I always got good grades at school so that was okay. One day I asked him if he thought spontaneous human combustion was possible. I had just run into the concept and was freaking out internally at the thought. He asked me what it was and when I told him, he just said, "I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often" because medically speaking, it made sense to him. OH NO! That didn't ease my anxieties at all. On the other hand, it made me think he was a lot cooler than I had previously thought.

I'm not sure where skepticism comes from. It's almost like a skeptic is too afraid to try believing in something. Maybe they don't want others to think they're silly or unrealistic. Maybe they once believed in something that turned out not to be true, so they don't want to get fooled again. Maybe they don't want to appear too gullible, I don't know. I also don't know where my willingness to believe almost anything might exist comes from. Maybe I'm silly and unrealistic? But the view from behind my eyes allows a breadth and depth to my worldly landscape that is just so much more fun! So I guess I'd rather be flighty and silly than serious and so down-to-earth that I can't buy into the weird stuff. Besides, believing in all this is kind of part of my job description.

So how about you? Do you believe?

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