I'm officially another year older today. It's been quite a chaotic year so far; my free time for blogging has dwindled more than expected. It's not just coursework that takes a chunk of my time away. I've been doing a fair amount of side research for two books and helping with editing a local ghost book due out later this year. Still, I've managed to get out and poke around the Cuyahoga Valley a few times. With the weather improving, I hope to enjoy the fresh air more once the last few weeks of this semester have finished.
The one place I've visited most often lately is Indigo Lake. There is a good reason for that, recalling events which happened several years ago during a late-night investigation of the trail. It was here I had one of my most unexplainable moments. Standing at the top of the hill and peering down the trail into the woods, I saw a distant pair of eyes. They weren't quite normal eyes, more like two glowing embers from a campfire. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, these amber lights suddenly became the eyes of something human-like: a black shadow of a man walking toward me. As he strolled forward, he stretched out his arms horizontally on each side. Yet there was something odd about those arms. Feathers drooped down on both sides, as if he were wearing some sort of bird costume. While I didn't feel any fear, my friends who were there that night did, and they quickly fled down the hill. Not wanting to confront whatever it could be by myself, I turned and followed them. I still regret that in many ways.
Could it have been a Native American dressed as a Thunderbird? Or perhaps something else? I'll never know. But my sighting seems reminiscent of a few of the known reports from Ohio and West Virginia of that enigmatic creature dubbed the "Mothman." Believe it or not, there have been reported sightings as close as Stow, Ohio, in recent years. Does this mean I had an encounter with the creature? Well, probably not... but I can't rule out the possibility.
A few months back, I finally took the time to read the book that started winged-creature hysteria in the Ohio Valley. In The Mothman Prophecies, John Keel told of his personal experiences in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia, including the collapse of the Silver Bridge in 1967. A fictionalized version of his book was adapted to film in 2002. While it touched on some key points, the book is entirely different. Keel came across as a very reasonable, rational man who, after encountering several unexplainable individuals and occurrences, formed several theories of what exactly might be happening. It's much more than glowing eyes and premonitions. He delved into his own conclusions concerning UFO phenomena, men in black, and unexplained circumstances, namely the existence of ultra-terrestrials. He didn't believe in alien visitations, government cover-ups, or spooky specters; he felt that some higher intelligence co-existed with us on this planet, unobservable save for the occasional glimpse.
What is most fascinating about the book is how so many "paranormal phenomena" could be accounted for by these beings. Poltergeist activity. Shadow apparitions. Premonitory dreams. Spook lights. These weren't ghosts, but effects produced by these ultra-terrestrials. Given Keel's explanation of how they attempted to make sane people appear crazy and lead people off course in finding the truth behind the phenomena, it could make a lot of sense that some ghosts are just a cover story. We may never know for sure, though. Keel passed away on July 3, 2009. In over 40 years of research, he never was able to find concrete, absolute answers; in fact, he felt those answers would never be found.
What was the Mothman? Who were the Men in Black? Many of us will never find adequate answers. It's a complex web of incidents and misinformation. So many people hold firm beliefs which explain these and other mysteries in their own mind, but they refuse to allow room for any alternative ideas. That's the greatest problem with the unexplained: not allowing for other possibilities. When people ask us to keep an open mind, too often they suffer from closed-minded viewpoints. As of this moment, no person alive has absolute indisputable proof that any theory of ghosts, monsters, UFOs, etc. is the correct answer for what is happening. Perhaps this is because we look for our own version of proof instead of answering the real question: what is it? We assume we know what these creatures/things/experiences are, then search for answers to coincide with these assumptions. When the results don't add up, we try again instead of re-analyzing the initial idea.
I recommend Keel's book to anyone curious about not only the Mothman, but paranormal activity in general. Just keep an open mind--a really opened mind--as you read it. It just might change how you see everything.