Tag Archives: Aliens

The Magic of Common Ground

(Image by Harry Evans)

(Image by Harry Evans)

It was the most barbaric, cheap-shot act I had ever witnessed.

Heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson bit off a piece of opponent Evander Holyfield’s ear live on television during a fight in what was, at the time in 1997, the most-watched Pay-Per-View event in history.

I’m a pretty nice guy. But if someone bit off part of my ear, I’m pretty sure I’d stay pissed about it for… I don’t know… forever?

Fast-forward 18-ish years. Tyson and Holyfield now act like old friends. Maybe it’s because Holyfield has millions so the jacked ear isn’t a huge liability. Maybe it’s because Holyfield has a huge heart and capacity for forgiveness.

I like to think it’s mostly because of their common ground.

Fighters. Champions. Aging and somewhat incapable of doing what they did as younger men. Fading celebrity.

How many people can understand that? What it’s like to experience that? Hardly anyone.

People need others to understand them. To connect with people like them.

When I first started writing here, I was mostly just venting. Writing therapy because I didn’t want to pay a professional.

It was a huge revelation to me when I realized there were a bunch of other people out there just like me. People who hurt like I hurt. Felt like I felt. People who wanted what I wanted.

People who understood.

I felt so alone.

But then I didn’t anymore. Because we became a tribe.

The magic of common ground.

I Don’t Get All the Fighting

I was having a conversation earlier about American politics.

I’m interested in politics. I care. But I’m constantly disheartened and disillusioned because the average American politician DOES NOT give a shit about the same things I give a shit about.

Near as I can tell, the vast majority of elected officials are more interested in re-election. And they seem to believe that working with members of another political party cooperatively is political suicide.

So Washington is full of out-of-touch, selfish, power-hungry politicians who want to ascend the ranks of American politics and never actually accomplish anything that serves the greater good.

What if we did Everything Differently?

What if the first thing a President and a new Congress did was get together and write down all the things everyone agreed on?

Everyone is for good schools.

Everyone is for accessible health care and affordable insurance.

Everyone is for reducing crime.

Everyone is for efficient transportation and public utility infrastructure.

Everyone is for safety.

Everyone is for beautification and eliminating blight.

Everyone is for jobs.

Everyone is for a robust economy.

And then, one problem at a time, you put the nation and world’s best and brightest minds to work on solutions. In many cases, there are already examples of successfully improving these areas. There is ALWAYS an example of “the best way” to do anything. Someone already thought of it. And it can probably be done even better.

Research a smart, effective way to fix a problem. Then fix that problem. Something on the common ground list.

Why is no one doing this? Why does everyone spend so much of their political currency attacking people who don’t agree with them? I don’t understand why everyone insists on being intolerable assholes all the time.

I don’t want to pretend like cheesy science-fiction films are a reliable predictor of human behavior. But. I do feel confident they are correct in their portrayal of humans from all walks of life banding together to stave off extinction from otherworldly predators.

In other words, if aliens try to eradicate us with big-ass space lasers, I don’t think we’re going to spend a lot of time haggling over whether gay people should be allowed to marry or how to fund Medicare. I think Russia and the Ukraine might be able to set aside their differences. Maybe even North and South Korea.

Maybe terrorists would spend more time beheading menacing extraterrestrials and less time beheading innocent people. I’d like to think so.

My point is that there is ALWAYS a reason to band together. There is always some commonality, even if it’s just—we’re both human.

Why all the conflict?

I get frustrated with all the shittiness. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Because I know I’m an asshole, I’ve gotten infinitely better at slowing down when I hear about people messing up. The mob rallies and rails against the offender. If I had a magic wand, I think maybe I’d put a sin on display from each member of the mob so they can also enjoy the experience of a million stones flying at them.

Almost all of us have committed them.

And redemption is just about the best thing in the world.

Maybe we can practice rigorous forgiveness, like David Brooks writes about in this New York Times column.

Like two warring nations working together to eradicate an alien invasion.

Like politicians with enough balls to get something done by teaming up with someone on the other team.

Like angry ex-spouses who put aside their grievances to love their children.

Like Evander Holyfield.

Who laughs with, smiles at, embraces, and forgives a man who bit off his ear.

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I Hope There Are Aliens

Wouldn't it be a sad story if we had all this to ourselves?

Wouldn’t it be a sad story if we had all this to ourselves?

On an April Fools’ Day long before the one my wife chose to vacate our home, the local newspaper ran a large photo of alien spacecraft hovering in the night sky.

The headline indicated UFOs had visited our small Ohio town.

I was captivated.

Enchanted.

Bewitched.

Just a young boy.

I had never seen or heard “War of the Worlds.”

We were still years away from Will Smith very believably punching a large alien trying to emerge from its wrecked aircraft with a sharp-witted “Welcome to Earth” in “Independence Day.”

Even further away was M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs.” You know the movie. It’s the one with aliens that will die if they get too much water on them. They are smart enough to conquer the physics of interstellar travel but are not smart enough NOT to invade a planet with a surface covered 71 percent by water, which regularly experiences rainfall and has microscopic water droplets suspended in the breathable air in most geographic locations.

Anyway.

I wasn’t scared of aliens. I didn’t know better.

All I knew was that I was fascinated with the unknown outside our planet. Outside our solar system. Outside our galaxy.

I’ve spent countless nights staring into the night sky.

Every single star representing a solar system. Every solar system representing an opportunity for more life to exist.

Maybe there’s someone out there seeing our sun in the night sky. Maybe there’s someone out there wondering whether we’re here. Maybe there are more people like us.

The newspaper story was a joke, of course. But I didn’t want it to be.

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories.

I’ve met people who have been inside Area 51. There are MANY secret things there, they say. Things they won’t talk about. But there are no extraterrestrials or wrecked alien spaceships inside, they say.

Of course, that’s EXACTLY what people protecting the secret would say.

But, still.

In my experience, things that sound like far-fetched nonsense typically prove out to be exactly that.

But I do believe in math. Math is the most-provable thing I know of. Pure truth.

And here’s an elementary breakdown of the math.

Why There Might Be Aliens

The nearest thing to Earth besides our moon is the planet Mars. Mars is 34.2 million miles away. Depending on how much fuel we’re willing to burn we can get an unmanned spacecraft to Mars in anywhere from 150-300 days.

We cannot figure out how to safely send humans to and from Mars. It hasn’t been tried.

We cannot get to the next-closest thing in our solar system.

This is where I need you to stay with me.

Earth is in a solar system. The thing with nine planets orbiting the sun. (Eat shit, science! Pluto is STILL a planet in my universe! My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas!)

This is where brains start exploding…

There are an estimated 100 BILLION solar systems in the Milky Way galaxy. Our galaxy.

The Hubble Space Telescope, combined with the best computer models in the world, estimate 500 BILLION galaxies.

There’s no point in even typing out 50 trillion. Our brains can barely process a number as large as one billion.

Hopefully, you see my point. Even if we eliminate 99 percent of those solar systems due to inhospitable living conditions, we’re still left with (if my lousy math skills are correct) about 500 billion opportunities for life to exist.

And we can’t even get to Mars.

A Table For One

I had breakfast at one of my favorite little mom-and-pop breakfast diners this morning.

“Just one?” they ask.

“Yeah. Just me.”

That’s always embarrassing.

There was a wife or girlfriend on the other side of the table from every guy in the small eatery.

I always wonder how many women are out there like me. Maybe wondering whether some guy just like me is eating alone somewhere. Maybe wondering whether they’re the only single person staying in on a Saturday night and wishing they weren’t—or at least not doing so alone.

We crave connection. Maybe not all of us. But most of us.

I hope you believe that I believe I’m not just going to be this cooped-up single guy forever. I have every confidence there will be someone on the other side of the breakfast table from me someday.

I think about that girl sometimes.

Where is she now?

Does she live close?

Do I already know her?

That connection, however long or short, will change my life.

That’s scary in a way. To invite more change into a life where change has been my worst enemy.

I don’t like whining here about being alone. And I hope it doesn’t seem like whining.

Especially after being on my soapbox yesterday about choosing ourselves and taking personal responsibility for the state of our lives.

It’s just another lonesome benediction. Can I get a witness? Written to some bluesy, soulful southern tunes being belted by the magnificent Kristy Lee who I finally got to meet and hear live last night.

Not so different really than those late summer nights in my youth staring into the majesty of our sky.

Into the universe. I can see for miles.

Just hoping there’s someone like me out there. Believing in my existence. Hoping I’m here, too.

I hope that person exists.

And I hope there are aliens.

You know. Nice ones.

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