Notice: I saw a UFO last summer. I haven’t been the same since

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Andrew Pyper’s latest novel is The House.

I saw a UFO last summer.

It was in our off-grid cottage on a secluded lake two and a half hours north of Kingston, Ontario. I spent the weekend with a friend I had known from childhood, we both paddled the canoe during the day and drank wine by the fireside at night, telling long-buried stories of our shared pasts. There was, after a burst of laughter from a humiliating memory from high school, a moment that I can only describe as a strangeness – the suspension of time and air, the density that precedes a gust of wind or heavy rain – followed by a flash of laser-like light to my left that drew my sight to the sky above the lake.

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An orb. Roughly tripling the size of Mars or Venus in relative terms of the planets or stars you can see at night. Its light varied without sequence or rhythm, moving on a spectrum between near darkness and brief explosive pulses. It was round, but bulging at its edges from time to time, suggesting elastic, organic. These strobes, stretches, and gradations were accompanied by much smaller orbs slipping out of them before coming back to the side, leaving streaks barely visible in the dark (what a finishing nail could scratch a chalkboard). The orb rose higher perpendicular to the horizon, then fell sharply, soared sharply to the right, ascended diagonally, stopped, then disappeared. The night was so still that we could hear a dog barking from a lakeside cabin over a mile away, but at no time did the thing make a sound.

The entire experiment lasted about 90 seconds. My friend and I rushed to the dock to see if we could spot the orb again, but the sky was its usual star ball, the strangeness I had felt before the flash replaced with everyday dread.

What has the whole company left me? At first, nothing more than a useful anecdote about the pandemic. A story to share with others as we waited for a latecomer to join a Zoom call. A strange event, perhaps even intriguing, but hardly transformative. We were not taken away. We didn’t see any thin-limbed Grays with bug-eyed eyes looking at us from the trees. There’s not much I can attest to other than what it wasn’t: neither an airplane, nor a helicopter, nor a fighter plane, nor a satellite, nor a drone.

Over time, however, I thought less about the event itself, and more about how it shifted me from one way of seeing it to another. I have always been interested in mysteries. UFOs, yes, but also the near-death experience, ghosts, cryptozoology, reincarnation, the whole weird range. But there was previously a distance between my interest in these phenomena and my belief in the possibility of their reality in one way or another. I was a student of the strange. Now I feel like what we don’t know about the universe is even bigger than what we assume, and with that ignorance, the space for some part of it to be “real” gets bigger.

Almost everyone to whom I relayed my UFO sighting asked the same thing: what do you thought it was? But the answer seems irrelevant to me. What do I think? I think we are demanding too many answers and not asking enough questions. We spend too much time pretending to be adults and too little time keeping the open-mindedness of childhood. The importance of witnessing to the mysterious is not the conclusion one draws – it was an alien spaceship! It was an interdimensional portal! It was a secret military experiment! It was a bug in the matrix! – but the much more interesting field of thought which goes beyond a single answer.

My UFO sighting reminded me of something I was intimately connected with as a child, but perhaps inevitably drifted away from over the following decades. Possibility. The feeling of being on the verge of a huge revelation. The erasure of certainties.

As we hurtle down fate and binge watch our way through our current flurry of distractions – Twitter skirmishes, fun pet videos, vaccine countdowns – the immensity of everything we don’t know remains. The gravity of the unchallenged realities we face is indisputable. So why waste time pondering what is beyond our reach? Because there is another type of reality – cosmic, infinite, sublime – which weighs on the way of interpreting our existence in a global way. To glimpse it, we must be open. However, the constraints of the moment make this difficult. As we gorge ourselves with information, our imaginations fade. We are inundated with fixed opinions but hampered by curiosity.

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Maybe the Orb Lights message wasn’t an otherworldly announcement from We are here ! We are here ! but a reminder of what should be at the forefront of our considerations but which is often vague if not entirely forgotten. You are here! You are here!

When we see a UFO, it places us in relation to something bigger and older than any simple world. Maybe he chooses to be invisible. Or maybe all we have to do to spot it is turn our heads when the light hits us.

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