I have a constant—and perhaps unhealthy—habit of just wanting everyone to be happy.
Some people are driven to fix problems, some people do what they want to without worrying about others, but dammit, I really, really want to see everyone get along.
And if we can't all be happy, let's all be miserable.
"You're unhappy. I'm unhappy too. Have you heard of Henry Clay? He was the Great Compromiser. A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied, and I think that's what we have here." - Curb Your Enthusiam
There are many schisms in Forteana. Half of those studying UFOs think there are extraterrestrials visiting Earth in structured craft, while the other half are convinced a spiritual meta-intelligence is visiting us (some, like yours truly, occupy the pleasant center of the ensuing Venn diagram, thinking both sides have their merits, albeit with a little "altered states of consciousness" stirred into both for good measure). Any YouTube video has its proponents and naysayers. The Loch Ness Monster myth is dead... long live the Loch Ness Monster, etc. etc.
Having laid bare this fundamental tug-of-war, my effort to be the Great Compromiser of Forteana seems a lost cause. And yet! I've noticed one schism that is quite pronounced and vitrolic, and yet may be the easiet of all to resolve.
Bigfoot—an ape, an alien, or a supernatural creature?
I've spoken at great length in the past about how, in spite of my desire for Bigfoot to be a flesh-and-blood North American wood ape, there are just too many factors around it to sway me into that camp with 100% assurance. There are reports of vanishing Bigfoot, telepathic Bigfoot communication, Bigfoot hanging around flying saucers—too many factors for me to wholeheartedly accept the idea that, in the backwoods of America, there is a nine-foot-tall monkey man who has never been captured, killed, or even conclusively photographed (save your Bigfoot conspiracy stories for now... I'm sympathetic, but this isn't the forum for that).
Still, Bigfoot witnesses report activity and descriptions that reek (pun intended) of typical ape behavior, including hooting, saggital crests, piloerection, etc. These attributes have, perhaps rightly so, led some researchers to become very conservative in their estimation of what Bigfoot might be.
Image courtesy of pararational.com
(To wit, I've spoken here and there about one popular podcast where anyone not subscribing to a flesh-and-blood bigfoot is derogatively referred to as a "flute player," ostensibly to associate them with the New Age community. What the host of said podcasts ironically refuses to acknowledge is that his own encounter—which was estimated to take a maximum of forty minutes but actually took four hours—is highly suggestive of a classic missing-time experience.)
So where does this leave us?
If you've read anything I've written, you've likely noticed the way I prefer to blend these subjects, and inject ambiguity wherever possible. To that end, I'm completely open to maverick ideas that help to explain away the lack of evidence for cryptozoology's shyest superstars, such as the idea that Nessie might be a dinosaur's ghost.
Anyone familiar with the work of author Mike Clelland (whom I spoke with on last week's Where Did the Road Go? podcast) is well aware of the owl-UFO connection. Mike has done a great job of underscoring the curious link between these creatures of the night and the flying saucer phenomenon; though not the genisis of his ideas, the notion has been around for some time, as popularized by the 2009 film The Fourth Kind.
The presence of owls (to distill a deep subject into one overly simplistic sentence) is tied into the UFO phenomenon somehow, and a facet of that may be in the use of screen memories, the substitution of mundane moments for the truly alien ones of the contact experience. A landed UFO might be a building in a screen memory, a grey alien a four-foot-tall owl.
Of course, Mike certainly doesn't hold that every owl is the harbinger of UFOs, just that the phenomenon tends to interact with them from time-to-time. Interestingly, some experiencers have claimed that other mundane wildlife—including deer, opossums, etc.—hold similar roles in their lives.
What if Bigfoot—a flesh-and-blood ape—has a similar relationship with the UFO phenomenon? Such an explanation would account for Bigfoot's elusive and seemingly supernatural nature, while simultaneously making more conservative researchers happy. Bigfoot exists in nature just as owls do... but occassionally they're the messengers of something more arcane.
Such a notion would help to explain why people who see one unexplained event are more likely to see others... perhaps a witness' Bigfoot sighting is an extension of their UFO experiences (if applicable)? Or, hell, while we're muddying the waters, let's go ahead and postulate that perhaps Bigfoot is the ghost of Gigantopithecus, or Neanderthals. Or both! It would explain some of the differing descriptions in these stories.
I guess what I really want to emphasize here is that things don't have to be, and well may not be, comprised of an all-or-nothing answer. Don't put things in boxes, folks, unless you want them break.
Ambiguity is key; in fact, it may be the key to unlocking this strange reality.