Two eerie tales, from the depths of inner space. One of them about UFOs, the other not. I can personally vouch for one of these stories, the non-UFO one. It happened to me.
It was the morning of May 20, 2009. That’s more than three years ago, so those of skeptical bent will be happy to know I’m not relying wholly on my memory for the details. I have before me a diary entry dated two days after the event, which I’m following as I write this.
Here’s the story: At the time I was doing volunteer work tutoring with our local literacy center, and I’d been invited with my student to a fund-raising breakfast at a local hotel. I rose early—sometime around 6:30 a.m., I think—washed and dressed, and although I wasn’t quite ready to leave the house I realized I wouldn’t have another chance to say goodbye to my wife before I left. I hugged her. I said to her: “So this is goodbye, my love.”
No sooner were the words out of my mouth than it hit me how spooky they were. Today—I thought to myself as I left the house—I’d better drive real, real carefully.
I went to the breakfast. I sat with my student. I ate a piece of sausage, which is not normally part of my diet. We listened to speeches, applauded the speeches. Then it was over, and I went off to my Wednesday morning writers’ group.
At about 11:30, sitting in a living room with the rest of the group, I noticed my hands red and itchy—a vague, unlocalized itch. Then my feet started to itch. I began to take off my shoes. While I was doing this the room turned misty; I had a weird feeling which I can only compare, remotely, to the sensation you sometimes get when you eat at a Chinese restaurant where they use a lot of MSG. I thought: something bad is happening to me.
Next thing I knew I was lying on my back on the floor. One of the ladies in the group pressed a cold damp washcloth to my head, telling me over and over that I’d be all right. Soon afterward came the emergency personnel, who measured my blood pressure and found it 60/37.
That’s low. With blood pressure like that, you can die.
I was moved to a stretcher, then to an ambulance, then to the hospital, where I spent the night while they did tests. I was released the next day, apparently none the worse for my experience.
Another woman from the writers’ group, who’d come with me to the hospital, overheard me describing the medications I was taking, then went home and Googled them. One of them, it turned out, has sudden drops in blood pressure among its potential side effects.
I haven’t taken that medication since, and nothing like that has happened to me again.
So what did happen? Why did my blood pressure drop so suddenly that day in May ’09, and never before? (I’d been taking the medication since the previous summer.) Did the sausage, which I remember as tasting kind of weird, somehow trigger it? And what led me, that morning of all mornings, to say those words to my wife, which I don’t think I’ve ever said before or since? So this is goodbye, my love.
I can only think: there was something inside me that knew that a crisis was about to befall me—my body was about to take a dive—from which I might not come out alive. Knew—although as far as I was consciously aware, I felt perfectly fine until more than four hours later.
In which case the sausage can’t have had anything to do with it. Unless—and this is farther than I am willing to go—I had some sort of prescience that I was about to eat something that would harm me. But leaving out the sausage, there’s nothing about my story, eerie as it is, that might challenge current scientific paradigms. It suggests that the body’s unconscious wisdom can be deeper, in a sense more prophetic, than anything in our normal awareness. (Which is mind-expanding enough.) But nothing more.
That’s my story. Now for the second one, the one about UFOs. I heard it several weeks ago, from a woman I entirely trust.
It happened almost exactly fifty years ago, in October 1962. This was the month in which the world as we know it almost came to an end, with the Cuban missile crisis. (Also the month, as readers of Journal of a UFO Investigator will know, in which Danny Shapiro first becomes a UFOlogist.)
The woman who told me was a child at the time. She was with her family—father, mother, brother. Her father was a private pilot. It was evening, the early darkness that comes upon us in October. The family had driven to the airport to pick up her father, just returned from a flight.
Normally, he always tied down his airplane before leaving it. This night, he didn’t.
This night, the family—all four of them—saw a strange light maneuvering in the sky.
Had the plane been tied down, my friend’s father and brother wouldn’t have had time to take off in it, in pursuit of the unknown light. But it wasn’t, and they did. But it eluded them—zoomed off and disappeared, mysterious as ever.
I don’t have any notion what that light might have been. Readers of this blog will know I’m resistant to the idea it might have been a visitor from outer space. That doesn’t mean I have an answer for what it really was.
The UFO itself, actually, isn’t the part of the story that most interests me. It’s that, on this evening of all evenings, the man had neglected to tie down his plane. As if there was a part of him that knew he would soon need to be quickly airborne.
As if the UFO was the creation of his own unconscious, and his unconscious had prophetic awareness of its own future doings. Just as I had some awareness that May morning of what my body was about to do a few hours later.
But then why did the others in his family also see the light?
Might it have been pure coincidence, that he didn’t tie down his plane the night of the UFO’s appearance? Sure. It could also have been coincidence that I uttered my eerie, ominous words to my wife the morning I almost died. Random coincidences are part of life. We delude ourselves when we pretend, in our hunger for order and meaning, that they aren’t.
And if it wasn’t coincidence?
Then this will be a useful datum for my UFOlogy. A UFOlogy that sees the experiencer as an essential part of the experience, the sighting as happening, not essentially in the skies—though surely something in the sky is a trigger for it—but in the mind and soul of the observer.