For those readers who don’t listen to The Voices Podcast or participate in the Voices Podcast Group on Facebook, I’d like to introduce you to Ben. Ben is deceased. That’s probably his most interesting characteristic, unfortunately, because it automatically colors everything we think about him. There’s definitely a prejudice against the deceased, and I’m pretty sure Ben doesn’t appreciate it. He and I talk frequently – through EVP, and while I don’t usually hear him complain (he’s very soft-spoken), you can just tell that he considers himself more than the stereotype being deceased has made of him.
It seems that most of us think of someone in his predicament as being creepy – ghoulish and all rotted looking. If not that, he’s translucent and floats slowly through the furniture. If he’d lived a better life, he would be in Heaven right now sitting at the right hand of the Lord contemplating any number of celestial issues; perhaps singing endlessly in a choir. And for all I know, he does those things. He doesn’t actually say – the deceased rarely do, so I suppose the time he spends with me could be nothing more than a break in the routine. But somehow, based on what little I do actually know about him, he doesn’t seem like just another one of the baritones on the fourth row. To me, he seems more like the guy who gets caught smoking in the boy’s room than one of those.
We humans frequently think of people like Ben as being evil minded. It’s not that they’re demonic or anything, but they must not have been very nice or they wouldn’t visit terra firma so often – freaking us out and doing stuff that makes our hearts beat a little faster. Of course, it’s only a guess, but I don’t think Ben is capable of doing anything harmful or frightening. I’ve asked him several times to knock on wood, or move something light – I even asked him to touch me a couple of times. He never does any of those things, and based on how cooperative he is in conversation, I’m sure he’s not saving himself for an actual possession. Ben seems completely unable to break through to this world in any of the ways we fear.
Often, I hear someone suggest that spirits should be sent on their way to some special place in the light where only goodness and joy awaits them. I find it kind of interesting that we feel as though we know what’s best for spirits, because we’re not very good at handling our own business, are we? We don’t exhibit any unique proficiency in managing life at all! I mean, we make it through pretty much, but the majority of us have littered the path with any number of emotional maladies and mistakes. Maybe we think that gives us license to tell Ben to move on to a better place, but I don’t get the feeling that he’s in need of that. I think he already has, hence the methods required for us to converse and all. He seems as if he’s where he is supposed to be, and maybe even where he wants to be. He seems to enjoy our conversations, even though we don’t get very deep. We talk about him most of the time, but he rarely talks about himself. Ben just kind of responds – a man of few words of the highest order.
He doesn’t answer every question I ask or comment on every dumb thing I say, and I get the distinct impression that he’s mostly just hanging around – that my attempts at conversation are occasionally an annoyance. Still, he usually musters enough “whatever” to answer in some way. Ever polite, he usually lets me know he’s there but that’s often the end of it. Like I said, he commands a solid understanding of brevity, and has mastered the talent of the whisper.
I won’t continue to go on and on about the way we, as living humans, tend to see Ben and his kind. I think everyone understands what I’m getting at, but what you may not know is why I feel the need to defend Ben’s right to be himself, or why I feel we have a responsibility (even to ourselves) to view him accurately. I like him, but it’s not that we’re close friends – we’re actually not friends at all. I don’t think we’re relatives either, or else I’m confident he would have introduced himself as such long ago. I think I consider Ben to be a co-worker. Someone I see for a certain portion of the day while we do our jobs, and when it’s over, I think we go our separate ways rather willingly. I go off to watch Hell’s Kitchen or L.A.Hair and he rejoins that blissful madrigal group he had to join for extra credit in Heaven. And maybe that’s why we both look forward to our next meeting – our next day at work, if you will, because television is not very good these days, and just between us, Ben can’t sing.
I think we’re well paired. I think we do good work together. I think the boss knew what he was doing when he hooked us up. I respect Ben, and he respects me, and I’d love it if you could find it in your hearts to respect him as well.