Some extra miles — what’s both impossible and true

Some extra miles…

I wrote a “farewell post” about a month ago, but as September rolled along I had some doubts about slamming the door on this blog forever, realizing there could be more to share. What thwarted me was knowing I couldn’t post something worthy every week. I inquired of the BDN, and they kindly advised two posts a month would suffice for this particular blog. Good – I can manage that.

These “extra miles” will cruise over wider landscapes, including some rutty roads, as well as thoughts on why homemade applesauce should be lumpy and other foodie issues. Today, I want to explore some phenomena that science claims to be impossible, but which are also true. The final moral to this tale? Trust your lying eyes.


When the impossible is true: “Darkman” in the driveway.

Late October, 2014, 4:50 AM. I was more of an early riser four years ago than now, and I was enjoying my mug of coffee in the balmy fall air on our porch, facing our neighbor’s home, garage, and driveway. Rodney and Lucy (not their real names) live about 200 feet away, across a deep brook whose banks were thick with puckerbrush. But at this time of the fall, many of the leaves had dropped and I could easily see their dirt/gravel driveway in the moonlight, with help from a small outdoor lamp on the corner of their house.

Some thing, some animal, caught my attention in the driveway, down on all fours, seeming to be looking for something on the ground. It whirled rapidly, like a dog chasing its tail, very fast, and I thought: coyote? wolf? bear, maybe? (we don’t have any of those on our peninsula). Very odd. It moved like this – frantic and whirling – for several seconds, and I was riveted watching its gyrations.

Then it stopped and stood erect. In doing so, it tripped Rodney and Lucy’s motion-activated spotlight on the garage, and the thing was fully illuminated. It gave every evidence of being human. Thin, not very tall, in dark clothing, and totally incapable of performing the acrobatics I’d seen a moment before. My jaw dropped. “Darkman” started strolling up the driveway toward the street, completely unperturbed by the spotlight. No, not strolling, more like gliding, its arms and legs moving too easily and its head staying level. It left the pool of light and disappeared into the darkness, heading toward the street.

Mid-morning, I called our neighbors and got Lucy. I asked her if they were having an overnight guest. No. I said I didn’t mean to alarm her but “someone was in your driveway about five in the morning behaving oddly,” tripped the motion-activated light, then left to amble up to the street. She stayed calm, thanked me, and that was it.

I described what I’d seen to my wife, saying, “what I saw was not human.” It was impossible, but also true.

Since then, Rodney and Lucy have kept their house locked at all times.


The “737” overhead…

On a warm evening at dusk in late summer back in the late 1980s, I was driving in a nearby town – suburban but also rural – to fetch my daughter from a birthday party at  a friend’s house. I was in my old Subaru with the “moonroof” detached, and the sky above was clear and calm. As I turned onto the long road that led to the friend’s house, something above caught my eye. I was driving slowly – about 20 mph – and I slowed even more to see what this thing was. I looked up to see bright, multi-colored lights on a metallic structure of some kind, very large, not 200 feet over my head, moving a little faster than I was. My first thought: “That plane is going to crash.” I figured, it’s a Boeing 737 of some kind, that’s abut the size it was – but why here and now and so low and so slow?

And it made no sound. In an instant, it passed over me, and suddenly accelerated at tremendous speed heading for the treetops about half a mile down the road, became a bright orange-yellow ball of light. When it entered the treetops, I waited for the crashing sound, the ball of flame, but it simply disappeared. Seen and gone, all in about 7 or 8 seconds.

I drove on, picked up my daughter, and we headed home. I didn’t tell her what I’d seen. But later that evening, I called a guy I knew who was doing some research in these areas, and he let me know in so many words that this would not be the end of it. He was right, but I’m not ready to go there yet.

I’m sure I’m not alone in witnessing such a thing, an impossible thing (by the usual standards) that is also true. I believe: truth can secure itself tightly in places that are otherwise labeled “impossible.”

Ontological shock.

Ontology is the philosophical study of being, including the nature of existence and  reality. It is often, but not always, assigned to the realm of metaphysics, which usually makes scientists squirm. I first heard the term “ontological shock” from Harvard psychiatrist, professor, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author John E. Mack, when he was seeing people who seemed to have been having extraordinary experiences with beings from other worlds. “Ontological shock” is, in so many words, the complete disruption of how you think you know what you know.

Wave-like pattern appears as light passes through two slits. Turn a detector on, and light becomes particle-like, with no interference waves.

“Ontological shock” took physicists by storm in the 1920s when they learned that subatomic particles can somehow “sense” when they’re being detected, and change their behavior accordingly. Electrons, photons, and other particles in the famous “two slit” experiment will end up in a wave-form pattern if they’re not being detected, and a regular particle-like pattern if they are. The detector does not interfere with them in any way – the detector device is “undetectable” in this real world. To this day, physicists have no explanation as to why or how this happens, only that it does. It is “impossible” in physics, and also true. What’s “impossible” is a bedrock foundation of quantum theory: particles “know” when they’re being watched.

Our entire planet and universe are made up of stuff that should not exist.


Ghosts among us…

Two recent polls show that about half of Americans believe ghosts are real (one poll said 45%, the other 53%). My guess is most of us have heard a convincing ghost story, know of someone who’s seen one, or seen one ourselves. I have a friend who travels this way frequently, and one night years ago he and some friends were gathered together, and a ghost appeared in the house. My friend approached it and spoke with it for quite some time – all in the company of friends who witnessed the entire conversation and experienced their own version of ontological shock. They saw and heard what was impossible.

But this, from Wikipedia: “the overwhelming consensus of science is that ghosts do not exist.” So we’re back to conventional thinking: if something’s impossible, it can’t be true.

Which (I’m sure you can guess by now) I don’t believe for one second.

Thanks for checking in. There it is.


Ned White

About Ned White

Ned White is a writer, novelist, crossword puzzle constructor, traveler through 49 states, and at times a danger in the kitchen. He lives with his wife in South Thomaston.