Faces everywhere. We see them in wallpaper design, in shadows, in paneling, in carpets and rugs, in clouds, on the surface of Mars, on rocky mountainsides, on the sides of cows, on potato chips, a cinnamon bun and on a grilled cheese sandwich.

I once thought I was alone in these observations. I planned to make line drawings of each face and to ultimately publish a book titled "Faces on the Wall." It would be a play on the words from a tune called "Flowers on the Wall."

I procrastinated. I did take some action, though. I conducted one of my unscientific surveys. The results were surprising. Almost everyone sees faces in places where they are not expected.

Why does that happen? Is there something inherent in the human condition that allows or even enables such behavior? Yup. There is.

Admit it. You've seen shapes and faces in odd places, too. I started noticing them long before the space program was launched. I've also read with interest stories through the years about so-called "miracle pictures" of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother Teresa or Fidel Castro in toast and potato chips, on shower walls and chipped plaster -- even on the surface of Mars.

Remember how you felt when you first saw a space probe photograph of a face on Mars taken from more than 30 years ago? Another probe last year seemed to confirm the features. Many of these "photos" turn out to be doctored hoaxes, but they do make us think, don't they?

I don't care what others might say. Kaye and I agree that there are depictions of a dog and a witch in the paneling on the half-bath walls off our master bedroom. They greet me every time I enter and I'd be delighted to show them to you, except that it probably wouldn't be "politically correct" to invite you into my bathroom for such trivia.

By the way, the face of the Virgin Mary in a cheese sandwich sold on eBay for $28,000. For centuries, we have spoken of and observed "the man in the moon." Since the early 20th century he has shown up in numerous song lyrics.

It's possible that our brains are wired to see such "imaginary" faces. I read a recent article in last October's "Science" journal that touched on this very subject.

Experiments with monkeys seemed to confirm that certain areas of the brain are "tuned in" to faces. Further, those same areas are activated in cases where the subject "sees" only parts of faces. Those brain cells react when they detect anything resembling a face. We presume the same is true for humans.

The full meaning of the experiments as it affects our daily lives is still unfolding. When all is said and done, it might turn out that I'm not nearly as weird as I thought. Or the opposite.

I hope my observations and the brain experiments will generate comments from readers about their own experiences. I believe the face of God shows itself in everything. Could this be part of it?

Somewhere around my River Room, I have a sliver of potato with a face on it. It was given to me with great conviction by an area woman some years ago. I have chosen not to worship it and will probably never get to selling it on eBay.

My friends know I have always been a student of the paranormal. I collect and write ghost stories and hope to have my first book of 32 "Ghosties" published by late this year.

I suppose it's possible that some of the things described to me as ghosts, including photographs of disembodied faces in various places, could simply be our brain cells reacting to limited information. I like the idea of ghosts a lot better.

I struggle with those who try to reason that the near-death experiences people report are little more than the brain's built-in way of preparing to shut down. I prefer to believe in the spirit or "soul" surviving our physical death and I look forward at some time far down the road to having all of my questions answered.

No amount of science will ever convince me that it all starts when we're born and all ends when we die. It reminds me of a wonderful song by the late Peggy Lee titled "Is that all there is?"

This whole thing of seeing faces in clouds and cinnamon buns has been part of secular, spiritual and scientific thought and legend since time immemorial.

Among my fondest childhood memories is finding a spot in an open field on a warm summer day, lying on my back with friends and looking up at fluffy cumulous clouds.

"I see an elephant," someone would declare. "I see my grandfather," I would say. It was a wonderful pastime.

That's all I know about the subject -- at least on the face of it.

Have a great day and please, drive carefully.

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