My mother was a wonderful, and interesting, woman. She was a believer in virtually everything supernatural and mystical. Her library included the Bible, the many works of L. Ron Hubbard, books on UFO's and alien encounters, ghosts, hauntings, magic healing crystals --you name it, she's read it, and believed it all. She would explain these strange worlds to me, perhaps to open my mind to other possibilities, which I believe it did. But it also had a side effect; these thoughts of body-snatching aliens, soul-possessing demons, voyeuristic angels, and other "spiritual" beings with a seemingly strong motive to enter my room at night, terrified me for the first 37 years of my life.
Brought up in a world where not only is anything possible, but anything is also probable, based on numerous accounts and testimonies of people who experienced these terrifying encounters, each and every story, movie, and testimony served as more "proof" that our world is being invaded by the supernatural. I slept with my parents until I was literally twelve years old, under the assumption that the uninvited intruders would take one of them instead of me. When I lived on my own during my college years, I would sleep with the TV on each night, "reasoning" that aliens and demons would be tricked into thinking I had other people over, and would move on to the next victim. And into my adult years, I would still sleep mummified in the blankets, thinking that somehow a one-millimeter thick sheet would protect me from the anal probe of an intergalactic visitor.
But something wonderful happened a couple years ago. I discovered reason.
Critical thinking, reason, and logic, helped me see the world in a new way. It helped me to see the world for what it most probably is, not what I irrationally thought it to be. My mom's lesson was not fruitless; I am still open to possibilities limited only by my imagination. But I realize that it is not the possibilities that make up our reality, it is the probabilities. I started with asking some very basic questions that I should have asked as a child. How many reports of demon possession and alien abductions have there been? Beyond the testimony of those who claim to have had these experiences, what evidence is there? What are the chances that not a single report would ever be empirically verified by any legitimate source? (Sorry, World Weekly News.) Combine these questions with an elementary understanding of neurobiology and psychology, and what was once terrifying, becomes a fascinating look into the human psyche. But best of all, my sleepless nights or horror have become sleep-filled nights of peace.
I am proud to say, that as a 39 year-old, 200lb man with two black belts, I no longer sleep in fear of the boogie man. I can watch horror movies right before bed, and if I do have nightmares, I wake up from them -- they no longer persist in my awaken state when I once again have control of my reasoning faculties. Although I can't go back in time and explain all of this to my younger self, I can share this experience with anyone lost in world of fantasy that lives in fear of aliens, ghosts, demons, Satan, or even a jealous God.
Reason is a wonderful thing.