Aliens and Ghosts?!?
When you're traveling there's a certain song and dance that comes with every new person you meet. “Where are you from?” How long are you here?” Where have you been?” All good questions.
But in Indonesia there was a particular one that always came up.
“Do you believe in ghosts”
I swear this question came up in literally every group of Indonesians I met. From my family to people I met walking around the street. Normally within an hour of meeting they would be asking about ghosts, it was uncanny.
I don’t believe in anything fun. No ghosts, no aliens, no karma, no eternal bliss post mortem. No fun allowed. I usually surround myself with people where the baseline opinion is, “there are no ghosts, that’s dumb.” So when someone asked me that for the first time it caught me off guard a little. I found myself to be a skeptic in a spiritual culture. And when I tell people that I don’t believe in ghosts they’re equally as flabbergasted (or should I say flabberghosted. I’ll be here all night folks). Then, more often than not they’ll launch into a ghost story. Everyone’s got a ghost story.
I was having coffee with the guy who owned the school I was teaching at and the ghost thing comes up, because of course it does. His story begins when he first moved into his house. His wife and him were going to bed. No one else in the house. He hears footsteps in the middle of the night, they creep towards the bathroom and he hears the shower come on. He rushes downstairs and sure enough, the water is running but no one is there. Ooooohhhhh, spooky.
His house was also, as it so happened, my house. So he challenged me to stay downstairs, where it was haunted, so I could see the ghosts in his house. So that night I slept on the couch downstairs, I ain’t afraid of no ghosts. I didn’t hear or see anything, I passed out and slept like a baby.
My official stance on ghosts is that I believe that people see them, but I don’t believe that they exist. I think there are any number of plausible explanations to that story if you think critically about the situation. Faulty plumbing and some weird pipe noises? Maybe. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. What I can say is that the shower he was talking about often turned off mid shower for no reason and if you didn’t turn the toilet valve off it would spray water everywhere. Ersan if you’re reading this get your plumbing fixed.
I have a story from back in college. I was out jogging late at night, like 3AM late because that’s when I do my best work. I stopped in a park to do some core, and I looked up to see 3 suspended saucers hovering mid-air. All my skepticism and scientific knowledge went into the garbage can, my heart started racing, I couldn’t move but I felt like I needed to run. After an excruciating 30 seconds of disbelief, panic and awe, my eyes proceeded to follow a black pole down attaching the 3 saucers to the ground. It was just a big baseball floodlight. I swear to god it looked exactly like saucers and my brain was more than willing to fill in the logical gaps without hesitation. People see ghosts, but I don’t think ghosts exist.
So all this leads me to where I am now. I wound up on a little Thai-sland off the southeastern coast called Koh Phanghan. I didn’t really have a reason to come here beyond: I had heard the name before, I found a job and I was looking for an island to escape from the city, but otherwise I didn’t know anything about it. What I found was an island littered with vegetarian/vegan restaurants, yoga studios and coconut oil vendors. It’s Boulder hippy culture taken to its extreme minus Whole Foods. The events page is filled with obnoxious with names like, “Electric Expression: Express All of Yourself Including Your Shadow” or, “Sounds of Light: Light Energy & Sounds Waves (452 Healing Frequencies)”.
I don’t disregard all of it. I defs dig me some yoga and I think meditation is awesome. I can also recognize vegetarianism/veganism as the objectively correct way to go from a moral and health standpoint despite my hypocritical flesh eating tendencies. I just can’t hate too much on trying to live a healthier life. What I can hate on is “manifesting” (glorified wishing ala Oprah’s “The Secret”), water crystals (re: ice) and the guy on the Facebook group that asked which Rabies vaccine gives him the least amount of Autism. But most people’s intentions are in the right place. I guess I just don’t get it. When people talk about star alignment or manifestation I feel like those ideas resign people to a lack of agency. People will excuse rude behavior or bad feelings to changes in their chakras or Saturn being in retrograde. I feel like social constructs and my stupid monkey brain already make me feel like I have no freewill, I don’t need to believe in this nebulous, celestial stuff.
One day I hope to run into some ghosts or some aliens, I would love nothing more than to be proved wrong. The implications would be tremendous. Especially aliens, that would be sweet.