Day 23 (I Wanted to Believe)

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All my years of X-files screenings and thumbing through old sci-fi comic books have led me to this. Roswell, New Mexico. Riding into town at night was eerie. An orange ominous glow enveloped my vision. It was obviously from the sun setting, but I convinced myself it was more than that. Then I rode further into town. I don’t know what I was expecting upon entering Roswell. Maybe a smoldering wreckage site with alien figures emerging from their vehicle. Possibly some old cook on a rocking chair watching me ride by in the most unnerving of manners. Nope. None of that. What I saw were Honda dealerships, questionably looking Thai restaurants, and archaic businesses like printing companies and dated appliances stores. All of these share a common trait. A sticker, balloon, or window print of a little green man with two almond shaped eyes. This town lets it be known to all what it’s known for best. The overwhelming nature of these aliens bombarding every single aspect of this town from storefront to streetlamp retroactively turned me off to the whole idea of extraterrestrial life. That was troublesome, but I still help faith that the museum would reinvigorate my belief.

I paid my five dollars and entered with much anticipation. Hearsay, varying accounts of the same instances, unreliable eyewitnesses with different accounts of the same sighting littered the walls of the museum. Chalk it up to the flaw of human memory and their fixation on elaboration. The more I read in this museum, the more I became disappointed in the reality that people said anything to be in a newspaper in the 1940s.

Best thing I heard all day: “I’m not reading anything” –Annoying kid running past newspaper clippings to stare at a life sized model alien.

After looking over photograph after photograph of  balmy landscapes with a U.FO. off in the distance, it occurred to me how desensitized I have grown towards such images. I blame Photoshop. I do remember the first time I saw a photo of a U.F.O. as a child and remembering its impact superseding that of my forced Christianity. I looked at a picture of Jesus and felt nothing, but looked at a picture of an alien and was mesmerized. Now I grow jaded to such imagery.

The most useful thing I extracted from the museum was the following quote: “Man’s understanding of reality will forever be limited by his senses and the technology we devise to extend them beyond normal human limitations. Therefore, there will probably always be some mysteries of the universe eluding our curious grasp.”

I left the museum let down but still optimistic in the prospect of extraterrestrial life. Walking down the street all I saw were aliens. That iconic creature with the oblong like egg head and slender frame floods every storefront of Roswell. That’s when it hit me. There is not government conspiracy trying to cover up a U.F.O. crash in Roswell. Here’s my hypothesis: the real conspiracy is that in the 1940’s the city of Roswell thought, “Hey this town isn’t making very much money. We need to devise a plan to draw more tourism to our quiet little town.” Thus after long nights of caffeine binging and overflowing wastebaskets of unworthy ideas, a little green man was born. They didn’t invent the alien. They invented the idea of profiting off of it. That’s my cynical half-assed conspiracy. People underestimate the combination of boredom and creativity of your average redneck. Having said all of this…I still believe. The truth is out there. We’re just too self-involved of a species too look for it. Ok enough of this alien scum. Believe it or not, there’s more to this town than just aliens.

My next move was to the Museum and Art center. There I was able to observe wonderful local art and reflect on Native American/Civil War relics of this area. It’s important to grasp and understand our history and I am a firm believer that the outlet of artistic expression be it through weaponry, peace pipes, moccasins, or headdresses is an effective way of displaying it. Here’s a little bit of history I had no idea happened until today: That’s something they don’t teach you in history class.

Moving through the museum, I made my way to my highly sought after exhibit. The Robert H. Goddard exhibit. If you’re unfamiliar with the man, he basically invented almost all the components that propelled and stabilized the modern rocket. This dude is the reason we’ll be able to discover any alternative life forms if there are any. He’s like The Beatles of rocket science and I got to walk through a replica of his workshop. BITCHIN! No but seriously, it was super cool to learn more about Goddard and how humble of a guy he was. Getting to see various prototypes of his early work was a real treat. Check this: Goddard imagined that the 200 mile trip between New York and Boston could be made in 10 minutes. His idea: a vehicle gliding without friction, levitated by magnets in an evacuated tunnel. That’s just now being developed in Germany and Japan now and was thought up by this guy almost a century ago. It’s without question, that Goddard literally and figuratively helped to propel our trip to the moon. It occurred to me while marveling at all the pieces on exhibit, that most of them were debris from failed attempts. His failures were just as important as his successes. It’s essential to acknowledge that fact.

I doubled back to Peggy’s house to have dinner with her family. I enjoyed a meal of pork chops, baked potatoes, and broccoli with Peggy, her husband Rick, and their son Mark. It felt great drinking out of plastic cups around a dinner table littered with homework, comic books, and things of the like. I felt like I was back at home in my teenage years and it was nostalgic to say the least. Peggy and her family were extremely receptive towards me. I was able to discuss the Cosmos with Rick, Middle Earth with Mark, and travel with Peggy. They’re basically a splendid family, but most of all, REAL. It’ll be sad to leave in the morning, because I felt like I was just getting to know them. Unfortunately, that’s par for the course these days. There’s no longevity to the relationships I’ve formed along this country, but they’re rich in merit and experience.

Ok so instead of ending this post with a song, I’ve decided to take a different route. Because the day was immersed with the idea of space, space exploration, and exterior life forms, I’ve decided that the following video would be appropriate. It’s called the pale blue dot and is narrated by Carl Sagan. This man romanticized science for me. This is probably the most humbling three minutes I’ve ever experienced and watch it every now and then in an effort to ground myself. It has proven useful numerous times on this voyage and I can only hope it does for you what it does for me:


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