Friday, October 14, 2011


The stinkbug and the grass skipper are two very different bugs. The former showed up on Sos’s desk the night he was filling out an application to join in fieldwork that involved the sighting of extraterrestrial craft; the latter made its debut the morning after Sos had to beg-off the expedition for lack of funds. To Sos these bugs were message-bearers.

The fieldwork hosted by the Center for the Study of ET Intelligence (CSETI) was pricey, $2500, and that didn’t even include food and lodging. But the Greer group had a remarkable success rate at making contact with ETs and its leader, Steven Greer, seemed like the real deal. A former emergency room medical doctor, transcendental meditation teacher, and a recognized pioneer in the inner reaches of outer space, what sold Sos was the fact that the black ops USAP (Unacknowledged Special Access Project) folks were reportedly intimidated by his work. According to Greer, elements from these ubermenschlich elites, charged with suppressing information on ETs, had contacted Greer asking him to knock it off. Greer politely declined and they then tried to kill him and his closest associate. Also according to Greer, cancer can be transferred via radionics from a distant Petri dish into the bodies of uncooperative, free-agent operatives such as these. Greer managed to beat the cancer; his associate succumbed. Greer writes that they tried a second time using another exotic type of weaponry – and again they failed. Finally, a truce of sorts was called, but the Greer group is closely monitored, especially during their fieldwork. So, thought Sos, perhaps it was all for the best that he was short of funds, thus staying off the radar for the time being (perhaps).

Sos’s mind returned to that CSETI application. The group called the ET Contact fieldwork a “retreat.” The application asked if Sos had any overriding fears, obviously about ETs and about maintaining control in what could easily be a rather dicey ET encounter situation. He ruminated on that, searching deeply into his soul. The perennial outsider, Sos would probably feel more at home with an ET than he would with the typical representative of his own planet. Really, how could he fear an advanced race of intelligent ETs?

It was around this time that he began eyeing the stinkbug making itself at home on his desktop. The stinkbug is supposed to have come here as a stowaway from China, but I’m pretty sure it really comes from Uranus. It has a mottled, gray-brown body that looks like a shield, and a sort of pinhead with two antennae. It’s generally no bigger than your thumbnail and has a propensity to demonstrate persistent imbecility. It can fly around making a racket. But what it seems to prefer is to crawl around in a slow, deliberate way, seemingly almost asking to be squashed or otherwise liquidated (i.e., flushed down the toilet). It doesn’t bite. It just gets in your way. And it does give off an unpleasant odor if threatened – like something metal would smell if something metal could die. Worst of all, there are many of them, and they won’t go away!

He didn’t want to touch a stinkbug. He didn’t want this bug to be in contact with any part of his epidermis. Bugs were creepy. How alien this little fellow Earth-creature was to him! Was this feeling of his due to the stinkbug’s lack of intelligence? What was intelligence, anyway? Really, he was no arbiter of intelligence! Let’s face it, fear played a major role here; fear of something he didn’t know a thing about and didn’t want to know a thing about. Yes, somewhere within the psyche of Sos was a primordial revulsion – a fear – of bugs. And then the alarm bells went off in Sos’s head – HE WASN’T WORTHY! If he can’t even abide this generally innocuous speck of a thing, how could he be an ambassador of goodwill to some more exotic, off-world creature?

Suddenly, in this context, Sos’s deeply engrained bias against this life form called “bugs” hit home. In the interests of full disclosure, Sos referred to the stinkbug in his CSETI application, hoping that his aversion to the little guy was not fatal to his acceptance (it wasn’t).

Alas! A month went by and then some. Sos was quite broke. In fact, he was quite literally bankrupt and he couldn’t cough up the fee. He had to own up to it and he did. So late one evening he emailed the news to the CSETI coordinator, then planned to head out to the beach around 3:00 AM the next morning. (At least he had enough dough for a day on the beach!) And that next morning, long before dawn’s rosy fingers appeared, Sos was up, loading his beach chair into the back of his old Honda station wagon.

Little did he know at the time, but a stowaway slipped in just then.

Sos drove on into the darkness of night. The road was his and his alone. On he went, passing the NSA facility, then Annapolis. Soon he was gliding over the Chesapeake Bay, the Bay Bridge depositing him on that flat expanse of land known as Maryland’s Eastern Shore. On through the veil of darkness went Sos, searching out the right road through the crosshatch of back roads leading to the lovely salt air and the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

Dawn came, just east of Bridgeville, the place with the billboard that says, “If you lived here, you’d be home now.” Cute. Quaint. Quite.

Suddenly a rustling flutter rose up in the back of the wagon. In the long rays of morning light Sos could barely make it out. Something was fluttering up against the back window. It sounded BIG, VERY BIG, wings beating like a machine, like those of a hummingbird, but not quite. In a half-panic Sos pulled off the road. With his eyes still searching the rear view mirror he yanked on the emergency brake, pushed open the driver’s door and jumped out. He walked to the back and guardedly pulled up the rear door. Did something just fly up and out a window? It seemed like it did, but he wasn’t sure. In the faint morning light Sos scanned the interior. Nothing moved. All was silent. Oh well, whatever it was must have flown away, thought Sos. So off he went, back down the road again, but casting a worried glance up at the mirror from time-to-time for the next mile or so. The stowaway seemed to be gone.

By the time he pulled up to the beach the sun was already an orange blaze on the horizon. Hardly a soul stirred. Sos grabbed a towel, cooler, sunglasses and a book, then yanked his 25-year old solid oak beach chair onto his shoulder and trekked out to find the right spot in the sand.

Early morning on the beach is a heavenly place. The plaintive cries of gulls rise and fall, mixing with the distant crash of waves. The sand was not yet hot. He looked and saw jewel-specks of light dancing all about on the huge expanse of ocean. Sos inhaled deeply. His lungs took in the salty draft as the brew of air blew in and around him. A gentle wind carried away his stress. He surveyed his domain. The beach was eternal; as long as sea and land existed, so would exist that magic in-between spit, where water melts into a terra firma in flux and the air licks at all that traverse its sands.

Sos soon found his spot. He began unfolding his beach chair. Then he saw it. It gave him a sudden start. On the corner of the wooden frame of the chair that had been up on his shoulder moments before was the biggest bug-of-a-thing he had ever seen!

At that moment it looked like the BIGGEST moth in the world. (Later he determined that it was something called a “grass skipper” that’s classified as a butterfly, for some unknown reason). Its body was thick and wide with a kind of brownish-gray, furry-looking appearance at first glance. It had some color on its dusky wings that looked like big, yellowy eyes. When it was in the air at the back of the car it could easily be mistaken for a hummingbird, the way it beat it wings. It’s about the same size as a hummingbird (which sometimes seemed like an insect to Sos).

Once the shock wore off that this bug had been practically riding on his shoulder all this way, Sos looked for a stick of some kind to shoo it off the beach chair. He didn’t want to touch it. He found a piece of driftwood and gave it a flick. The grass skipper just lamely fell onto the sand, settling a few feet away into a little depression a foot had made in the sand the day before. There it stayed, much to Sos’s dismay. Why didn’t the dang thing just fly away!? But stay it did. Grudgingly, Sos accepted the grass skipper into his little spot on the beach.

It was supposed to hit 100º that day. Shirt off and sunglasses on, Sos settled into his chair and gazed seaward. Dog walkers soon appeared. One dog came over to sniff him. It almost stepped on the grass skipper, but the thing just remained where it was, motionless. The sun was climbing steadily. Sos pulled out his book and was soon engrossed.

By and by the sun did its work. He was getting hot and decided to go tromp in the surf for a bit. He brought his book with him. The cool water lapped up his calves. With each wave his feet sank deeper into the sand. Sos didn’t like that because he imagined crawly things lived down there. So Sos ambled around, turning this way and that, to keep from sinking too far down. The water swirled around his feet as it splashed up and then receded back. It was like floating in the bright morning air, detached but at once a part of the surf’s ebb and flow.

The grass skipper was all but forgotten. Not until he returned to his beach chair and was sitting there a few minutes did Sos notice that his footprints had come dangerously close to little Mothra. Still it sat there, content, not moving. Sos got back into his book for a while, napped a little, then looked around some, and finally picked up his book and began reading some more.

Suddenly, from the little depression in the sand there came a kind of buzzing flutter. Sos looked up from his book, puzzled. There was the grass skipper, still ensconced in its tiny pit but its wings were all a-hum. Strange, he thought, how can it stay there when its wings are going like that? All of a sudden the grass skipper came flying up at Sos, who barely had time to dodge his head to one side. The thing came flying right at him, then hooked around and zinged off and out of sight.

Not until that moment did Sos think back on the stinkbug of so long ago. His close encounters with the alien bug world seemed to have a discreet beginning and end. When Sos first contemplated joining the ET Contact Group, Mr. Stinkbug imparted his fearful presence; now, when it turned out Sos couldn’t join them after all, Ms. Skipper furtively showed up, signaled her presence, then got all snug – finally making an awesome acrobatic display as she zipped away into the ether, like an ET spacecraft

As with the bugs all around us that remain alien and feared, Greer maintains that the ETs tenaciously standby on the periphery to save us from ourselves; they won’t go away either, and are just as feared and particularly distrusted by the black ops folks, those gatekeepers and conservators of the status quo.

It could be that Sos was making fanciful, connective projections. And yet the timing, especially that of the grass skipper and its odd behavior, seemed too coincidental to ignore or to write off as just a curious little episode. He was not saying that ETs came to him in bug-form. But if, as “they” say, everything is connected, then might the consciousness of these bugaboos be sharing somehow in the consciousness of cosmic visitors, called-in (so to speak) by Sos’s own thoughts and desires? Was love attracting love, while demonstrating to Sos his own fears and foibles when it came to bug-aliens in his own world, on his home planet?

Sos’s thoughts were gushing now, here, on the beach, sun and salt dancing through his hair. “They” also say, there are no coincidences. We know of C.G. Jung’s serendipitous synchronicities. How strangely wonderful is the world! Life! – being alive and able to connect-up with other life forms… Maybe he’d just had a close encounter of the insectoid kind. He feared them less now – at least he imagined so – but in any case the thought and wonder they provoked brought comfort in his solitude. At the same time he knew he needed to work on his meditative abilities, as Greer referred to meditation as a crucial component in the Contact work. There was a kind of meta-force in meditating with one or more, wasn’t there? Still, he might be as lost in a group meditation as he was in his solo efforts. This confounded and worried him a bit.


As the day wore on and the sun bore down on him, Sos dallied a bit at surf-reading some more. Finally he settled back and totally opened himself to the light, the air the steady pounding of the waves. Suddenly an idea came to him: surf-breathing. It occurred to him that the rhythmic sound of the waves coming ashore was akin to his own heart-driven pulse; listening to the waves was like listening to the Earth’s pulse. What was it “they” say about being one with nature? Instead of being surrounded by manmade structures and machines, and the artificiality of synthetic sound and sensibility, nature is pure, the mind of God, the creative force, the authentic. So, Sos wondered, if he coordinated his breathing with the sounds of the surf, might he atune himself to be more at one with the natural world? He would try it.

With eyes closed and all muscles relaxed as could be, he took in a deep breath, drawing the air in through his nostrils and holding it for a few moments. As the next wave crashed he slowly let the breath out through his mouth, emptying his breath completely as the wave washed up onto the beach. As it receded back out he took in his next breath, held it and let it out as the wave crashed again, washing in. A few tries and he had it down – he was surf-breathing!

Sos centered himself. He tried moving out all thought. A pulsating magenta hue came in and out of focus. A certain calm descended. He smiled. He felt contented. He wondered whether this little technique was a gift bestowed on him by a knowing Other or Others. Just then, an errant thought came racing in like a wave-too-soon, it’s message? – Be Not Content!