It is fall festival season in small towns across America. This weekend my hometown, Kewanee, IL, is celebrating its claim as Hog Capital of the World with three days of flea markets, pork chops, carnivals, and parades. Other small towns will be sweeping streets to prepare for their pumpkin/cranberry/shrimp/barbeque/cheese/*INSERT EDIBLE OBJECT* festivals.
But food festivals aren’t the only parties in town. This weekend, the town of Willow Creek, California will celebrate Bigfoot Days. I’ve had Bigfoot on my mind after hearing about the festival on the radio this week. My interest was piqued so much that last night I watched one of my favorite childhood movies, Harry and the Hendersons, about a family that takes Bigfoot, affectionately named Harry, into their home after accidently striking it with their car while on a camping trip. Calamity ensues and in the end we learn that Bigfoot is not so scary after all. In fact, he’s a vegetarian!
Stories of the “wild man” originated in aboriginal and native folklores and have persisted over time with sightings of Bigfoot purported in every continental US state. Other cultures tell a similar tale. There is the Canadian Sasquatch, Nepal’s Yeti, Australia’s Yowie, China’s Yeren, Mongolia’s Almas, and Indonesia’s Orang Pendek.
The one consistent fact about Bigfoot is that there is no empirical scientific evidence the creature exists. I prefer it that way.
Stories of Bigfoot exist not because there are yet-to-be-discovered hairy bipedal nocturnal humanoids with an affinity for woman and candy bars roaming the earth. Bigfoot exists, and will always exist, because we need to believe there are still mysteries to encounter. We need the unknown.
Science says, “Show us a body.” I say, “Why ruin it with a body.”
I find it fascinating that the word “empirical”, which has come to mean “supported by scientific research,” is actually rooted in a word that carried the opposite meaning.
The word “empirical” is derived from the Latin empiricus, which is a transliteration of the Greek empiricos meaning experience or observation. Centuries ago it referred to a practitioner, usually a physician, who worked from experience, rather than formal training or scientific theory. The word came to mean “quack, imposter, or charlatan.” (Click here to learn more)
My experience is that the world is a more interesting place when we make room for Bigfoots. Bigfoot teaches us to stay curious, to chase the unknown, to believe in the possibility of the impossible.
That may make me an empirical quack. I’m okay with that.
A WRITER KEEPING THE FAITH IN LOS ANGELES