Tag: Influences

I’m Not Saying It Was Aliens, But…

“To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like.” – Stephen Hawking

I believe there are many influences we have at a young age, particularly some books and movies that might be too much for our young minds to comprehend much less fully rationalize yet I wouldn’t discourage the practice provided they are discussed with an adult. Through my parent eyes, I do have some exceptions to this thought process that would include certain books and movies. There is an age appropriate criteria that should be set for some content or subject matter. That’s my job as a parent.

When I was young, I read two series of books that I was probably too young to read. One was a series of books by Carlos Castaneda in which he wrote about his training in shamanism under the tutelage of a Yaqui man named Don Juan. Some of this training introduced Castaneda to the use of psychotropic plants such as mushrooms and peyote in order for Castaneda to enter a reality in which he could better understand Don Juan’s teachings. My mother had been reading these books for a college class and talked openly about the books. She was convinced that Don Juan lived somewhere along the Mexican border where we lived (the Mexican state of Sonora having many border towns adjacent to small towns in Arizona). I didn’t find out until years later that much of what Castaneda wrote was questionable and disputed in some scholarly circles but by then, I had long forgotten much of what I had read. I would like to re-read the books as an adult and see if I feel differently.

Nasca - Parrot

Nasca – Parrot

The other series of books I read were by Erick von Däniken suggesting alien influences on earlier cultures. These books fascinated me then, and admittedly fueled an interest in ancient cultures. Had it not been for these books, I might not have been introduced to some of the amazing feats of construction that are prevalent in both Central and South America. Sure, we were all taught about the Great Pyramid of Giza and other wonders in Europe and Asia in grade school but not much was taught about many of the same wonders that existed directly south of us. I was twelve years old when I read Chariots of Gods? and thirteen when I read Gods from Outer Space.  Erick von Däniken tried to connect it all in his books and for a young reader, the theory was plausible. Did I believe aliens influenced or supervised these cultures, allowing them to accomplish things that were supposedly not possible with the technology and tools of that time? Absolutely.  Do I believe this now? Read on…

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During my later teens, I camped out in the desert near my house. While on a peyote induced trip to find my spirit animal, I had the chance to seek answers to many of the questions the books I had read a few years earlier had left me with. While flying, and I’m not sure what type of bird I was, I was abducted by a passing aerial craft of some sort. To my surprise, it was manned by aliens. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to have my questions answered, I asked them if they had anything to do with all the great mysteries I had read about only a few years earlier and they said they hadn’t but did admit to crashing at Roswell. So there I had it, firsthand knowledge directly from my abductors.  Alright, before you think I’ve completely lost it, yes I am just kidding. Actually, they couldn’t understand my question because I was bird and couldn’t speak (yes, maybe I was too young to read Castaneda or von Däniken).

Enough funny business and I will get back to the question: do I believe this now? I do believe that in a universe as vast as the one we are in, or other universes that exist, both known and unknown,  we would be very vain and naive to think we are the only intelligent life form. It comes down to numbers as Hawkins suggested in the quote I shared at the beginning of this post. Having said that, do I believe aliens influenced or helped the cultures of the past. No, I don’t. Not because it isn’t possible but because there is no proof. That doesn’t diminish my fascination with the possibility that it could have happened but the technical side of me demands proof and to my knowledge, there is none. The technical side of me knows enough to understand that many of these mysteries exploited in such books or television shows are easily disputed by an understanding of math, which we now know many earlier cultures were very proficient in.  A basic understanding of geometry for example, allows the construction of very detailed and exact shapes. Take a crop circle, or some other seemingly perfect geometrical shape, that supposedly could only be done with access to an aerial view. A group of people with a few stakes, long ropes to construct lines, and an understanding of right angles and arcs, could theoretically create most any shape. This has been proven numerous times by hoaxers. Toss in an understanding of astronomy and agriculture and it should be no surprise that ancient civilizations were able to accomplish many of the engineering feats we are fascinated with today.

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What I love about books that make us question things, both fictional and non-fiction, is the fact that they should spark interest in learning more. I can honestly say I am fascinated with ancient civilizations and the engineering feats they accomplished.  I believe I can attribute that fascination to a few of the more controversial books I read as a kid along with the not so controversial follow up reading found in other more scholarly books or magazines such as National Geographic. Thankfully, my mom encouraged both.

It’s all good.

Bill

Photos courtesy of Pixabay and Google images 

If We Were Having Coffee #8 – Not Your Usual Suspects

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If we were having coffee, I would have a number of choices to offer you today. I have hazelnut, Columbian, that decaf breakfast blend that won’t go away, and a Lavazzo Classic. I’m going with the Lavazzo and a Cold Stone Creamery Sweet Cream.  I’m really loving Lavazzo coffee. The package says it’s Italy’s favorite. I wonder if it is but I would bet there is a menu in Italy offering Pabst Blue Ribbon as America’s favorite beer. You just never know.

It’s raining here in New York so I can’t think of anywhere better to enjoy our coffee than my back porch and the beautiful view it offers of the woods behind my house. A teasingly slow drizzle that has graced us for hours now.

It’s been a busy three weeks since I have posted here. I’ve had a birthday, enjoyed Father’s Day, watched my youngest play his last Little League game, and last night, proudly watched my oldest son graduate high school. It didn’t rain last night so his high school held the graduation outside. Perfect.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the event was bittersweet for me as a parent and I suspect it was bittersweet for many of the teenagers graduating. I know it was for me as a teen. I remember standing around on the football field realizing it was over, my immediate thoughts being a reflection on what I had accomplished. I was a straight “A” student, top 5% of my class, and I played football.  That was it. And I had instant regrets that I had not gotten involved more. I then walked around in a daze looking for any of my family members who might have attended. There were none which is a long story in itself.

Because of that, and similar experiences my wife had in high school, we’ve continually pushed my son to make the most of his time. If you’ve read my posts before, you know he has despite the small case of senioritis he contracted sometime this year. He wasn’t alone. There seemed to be an epidemic but the kids worked through it along with their teachers and their parents.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I’ve heard enough feel good graduation speeches that often sound the same. We are the new generation, we are going to change the world, it’s our time now, etc. etc., blah blah blah….  Last night was different.

Three speeches were given by students and although they were all good, there was one that resonated with me. The young lady who gave the speech has been one who has struggled in the past giving speeches. Chalk it up to shyness, youth, or whatever you want. She opened her speech confessing her feelings of being uncomfortable speaking in public. She then went on to discuss her gratefulness to the community, her educators, her friends, and her family for the impact and role they have all played in her and her classmates lives. Thankfulness. It was sincere, very personal, and it made me want to cry.

As parents, we would like to think we are solely responsible for molding or guiding our children. For lack of a better word, that’s bullshit. I don’t want to quote any It Takes a Village verbiage because I don’t particularly care where that speech originated (no offense to you fans) but last night I realized that it really does. Our children our influenced by their peers, their community, their educators, social media, their heroes, celebrities, their siblings, and of course their parents.  Not your usual suspects and all play a role, like it or not. Because of that, all bear some responsibility. They are kids. They are our kids, our friends’ kids, the communities’ kids.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m very proud of my son and his class of 2015. The realization that high school is over for him is still not sinking in today. Maybe it will tomorrow. We leave for new student orientation at the university he will be attending. The next chapter begins and with more people who will play a role in the man that my son is becoming.

Until next time…

My son

My son

 

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