One of the perks that accompany “retirement” is the peaceful spending of breakfast alone. It’s just easier to fill up the day’s dance card that way. Of course, my daily strategy will encounter a few road blocks along the way – phone calls, a barrage of text messages from someone who should probably solve his own problems, that package will arrive from Amazon a day earlier than expected… I might even violate the schedule myself, grab my camera and run off to the woods for while. You know, an hour with nature is very therapeutic.

Nevertheless, it’s still early, and already today’s timetable for successful cognitive planning has gone off the reservation as the smell of Taylor Pork Roll appears to be dragging me back to childhood. I am remembering things I regret ever forgetting, and it really is a shame that it takes burning some kind of meat substance to trigger such recollection.

Someone very close to me is very sick. I won’t betray her confidence or sully her dignity by revealing the details, but it begs the question that her days are possibly numbered. Oh sure, she’ll fight, and those of us who adore her will lead every cheer. We’ll hope against hope, pray just one more prayer – yet again, and it will escalate into one of those remarkable examples of the human spirit. She’ll probably beat this. She will be ever triumphant, never giving in to despair or the desolate singularity of hopelessness… She will handle this endeavor with grace and dignity, if we will only find the good sense to allow it, and as she has always done, she will persevere until perseverance succumbs to the inevitable acceptance and the talk of “one more try.” Regardless of the battles, she will win the war simply because she did her best, and since so often her best is enough, hope will linger long with us.

I find myself wondering if I will be able to record her spirit voice one day. I know, it truly does seem opportunistic and a little cold; calculating. It feels inappropriate to entertain such thoughts. After all, it’s not about me or my research or anything other than her! Maybe it is only natural for someone such as I to always be looking for that “in” to the spirit world. Maybe I should be forgiven the indiscretion, for surely there is some kind of absolution for wanting to further the cause. How many of my colleagues would think differently? After all, won’t it help others in the long run? I might be able to ease the mind of another who finds himself in these same particularly heavy shoes. Maybe I can provide some needed comfort.

But it won’t be about that, will it? It will be about one more time, won’t it? About telling her I love her yet again, because there can never be too many of those. It will be about saying things I should have said when I had the chance, or reinforcing her fruitful life; the way she always made others rethink; her ability to make us all so proud. Now, there are always things to say, but it will not be so when she leaves, and a part of me will always be consumed with the absolute conviction that it should have been me.

By now, I am more than certain there is an afterlife. I know it with every cell in my body. You can argue the point if you like, it won’t matter, because I have heard the afterlife, and it is not an empty place. I’ve listened to so many thousands of voices from that place – such purity of emotion… I’ve heard humanity being human from somewhere out there, beyond an impenetrable barrier of some kind, from as far away as imaginable, and yet possibly, from right beside me.

There’s a scientist I once heard speak, and I have forgotten everything about him except that he believes in the afterlife. He believes we do indeed exceed our bodies; that we all live in the minds of others; that a piece of our energy is absorbed by those who love us and would hold the memory of us close enough to do that. He believes that those who love us consume everything we are, and hold that energy within. And I do not totally agree with him for a number of reasons, but I have come to like his theory. I am content thinking she will remain in my mind – literally. That small piece of her – my allotment, if you will, fills me up with her essence even now. I will rejoice when his theory is proven, even with the risk of negating what has become my own life’s work, because the knowledge of having her so close is so spectacular.

I’m certain I will write more as time progresses – more eloquently, I hope; more expressively. But for now, I am enjoying this solitary breakfast with Taylor Pork Roll and thoughts of her. Viva la pig! It takes me back to my childhood, when I was not so alone.

Just My Type

     I’ve mentioned CEV before – on The Voices Podcast as well as in an online magazine article. In case you’re at a loss, it stands for Closed Eye Visualization – an hallucination created by focusing your eyes on the “visual noise” found on the back of the eyelids. Almost anyone can do it, and it usually results in a series of actual images that appear to form out of total darkness.
     The operative term here, however, is the word hallucination – there’s no reason to believe CEV is anything but a complex form of matrixing, geared toward making sense of the random visual noise. I’m very good at finding faces in wallpaper, leaves, and smoke, just to name a few, and I’ve formed quite a few strange CEV faces as well.
     I’ve also done experiments combining CEV with EVP sleep sessions. I’ve compared quantity, gender, and age of the CEV faces with the EVP I’ve managed to record that night. Usually, they match – i.e. five different voices coinciding with five different CEV faces. I have often wondered whether the spirits I record have introduced themselves visually as well.
      Lately, I’ve tried CEV with my eyes open in darkness, attempting to visualize in the same manner. Open or closed, there are images of faces that show up, and seem to compare with the kinds of voices I later record that night. So I ask you – what gives? Is it logical to assume my CEV images are not the product of eyelid noise after all? If not, are the images created in my mind? If so, how could the EVP demographics match the CEVs so accurately?
     A few nights ago, in an attempt to see how much control I could exercise, I sat quietly in bed for five minutes, recorder in hand, eyes open, under the covers. It didn’t take long before a very attractive, smiling, dark-haired woman appeared for about 3 seconds –  just my type too. At the end of five minutes, I listened to my recording to find the faint sound of a woman singing words I couldn’t quite decipher. This has happened before, so I turned the recorder on again and settled in for actual sleep, hoping to conjure the young lady for the duration.
     This time, the faces of two men appeared, even though I was intensely concentrating on her. But unable to sleep, about half an hour later I turned off the recorder to listen. There were indeed the faint EVP of two distinct male voices. But, one of them said, “She is missing.”
     I don’t know what this means or how it happened, and I certainly can’t claim these faces represent the voices who are recorded while I sleep. I’m not even certain how many times this sort of thing needs to happen before I can claim it’s more than a coincidence. The mind is a strangely difficult thing to understand, and there’s no telling what it is capable of, but it certainly didn’t record itself saying “She is missing.” And in all probability, if there is an explanation, it won’t be one of those “one size fits all” kind of things.
     Oh! By the way! She returned last night. Same inviting, yet perplexed smile as before; her hair slightly different. But I was almost asleep and didn’t get to my recorder. I’m hoping she sang me to sleep – after all, she is just my type. But then, odds are she’s not real at all – an hallucination. Probably.

Spiritual Blinders

Paranormal folks like to use exciting scientific theories on which to base explanations for the evidence they collect. For instance, alternate universes go a very long way toward explaining a great many paranormal things. Problem is, of course, there’s no proof that alternate universes even exist. That will probably happen soon though, and something phenomenal will surface – life as we know it will change once again.

Until then, however, many of us will continue to blame paranormal occurrences on a variety of theoretical possibilities. No wonder a lot of people get fed up with us. In defense of our cooption of the speculative, since there is no factual basis for anything paranormal, we have no foundation on which to build. We have tons of data and results, without a single defining or corroborating logical basis for any of it. All we can say is that it exists. We need theories to give us a foothold.

Here we sit with all this fantastic verification – all these millions of EVP, with little more to do than offer best guesses as to what details accurately characterize them. We can’t look back to the accomplishments of great men and women in the field – there aren’t any. In science, we have the work of geniuses like Einstein and Newton, just to name two, who have blazed the trail for others who follow. They’ve transformed certain possibilities into facts, so whatever scientists do today can be based on their work and conclusions that have already been proven accurate.

We don’t have such a luxury within the paranormal. When a cosmologist thinks about the universe, he automatically understands certain facts to be true. This foundation will provide the platform for everything he ponders. “What happened before the singularity?” he might ask, because he has a pretty accurate idea of what happened afterward. One’s new ideas might not originate from anything concrete, but there will always be a solid starting point thanks to proven scientific principles.

There is no comparable foundation in paranormal studies. Is it any wonder we base our thinking on near and soon to be truths? What else do we have? We can’t be expected to just sit pat and wait for the next couple of geniuses to come up with something concrete so we can start working. That’s no good. The geniuses probably wouldn’t choose the paranormal to work on anyway, and we’d be left at the altar, all decked out in our gear, with no partner coming down the aisle. The fact that the entire field has been left to untrained amateurs for a very long time ought to tell us something – science doesn’t care. In fact many of them will tell you that the paranormal is foolish.

If we follow strict scientific principles exclusively, EVP become irregularities – accidents of nature. “There’s no mystery.” There’s no explanation either, and once we entertain one; perhaps a more spiritual offering, our ill repute begins. Certainly, we hear them, but as long as there is even the possibility of a natural explanation, all paranormal options are off the table – null and void. And that means always and forever, because the scientific community isn’t going to recognize the spiritual world as being a part of their real world. It’s always been a problem for mankind to willingly merge the two, and since the scientific discipline is made up of highly focused men and women, there are sometimes spiritual blinders in every equation.

Mankind has always viewed spiritual possibilities as being above and beyond the tangible life. That’s because removing one from the other allows us to easily add our personal spiritual suppositions at will. That’s old thinking, of course; it’s stubborn thinking – I see the two as one and the same. The spiritual realm is simply a part of the physical. Things spiritual happen because they’re supposed to, and they’re just as natural as an erupting volcano or the movement of an electron around a nucleus. Science can’t afford the indulgence of only embracing the physical world, just as we cannot afford to embrace only the spiritual.

As it stands, science almost never contemplates the spiritual, but God is science – not just the master of it. Spirits aren’t aberrations of human observation – they exist in ways and places that will one day be easily understood, but are currently completely mystifying. Everything has a scientific explanation – everything. All things work as they should – there are no hidden realities, only realities not yet discovered. This marriage of the spiritual and the physical is necessary – it’s inborn, and it’s the way we need to envision things if we’re ever going to merge the essence of what it means to be human with the understanding of what it is to become more.

Homeward Through the Haze

The other day I was asked to babysit a one year-old toddler named Kenny, who also happens to be my grandson. He’s a funny little boy who has mastered the art of getting into everything – a future demolition expert, no doubt. Kenny is a good boy though, and he listens well when he thinks he knows what you’re saying. Of course, my experiences in babysitting are not the focus of this post.

I turned on the digital recorder while Kenny was visiting. I’ve done this with other grandchildren and have always recorded lots of voices around them, which has led to a sort of theory. It’s not new, but I think all children are under some kind of protection by spirits. I’ve captured EVP that seem to further the theory – voices that give the impression of dealing solely and directly with the child. These are unfamiliar voices to me, and seem less random than the usual EVP I record.  Beyond this different nature of presence, unfortunately, I know of nothing concrete to prove my theory.

But something caught my attention this time, and it startled me. At one point, Kenny pushed a toy into the glass door of a cd cabinet, and he turned and offered an anxious “uh oh.” You can probably imagine that – it’s a fairly common thing for kids to say, but Kenny doesn’t say many words, so it was memorable to hear him use a new one so appropriately. “Uh oh!”

On the recorder, you clearly hear a female voice say those same words less than a second before Kenny, and it caused me to wonder… Was she teaching him what to say? Was he able to hear her and repeat what he heard? Just exactly what kind of relationship does this voice have with my grandson? A lot of questions for which I have no answers, but it certainly has me thinking.

A lot of people believe that children see spirits when they’re very young, and I’m not the only one who has ever tried to capture EVP during those alone moments with a child. But I’ve never heard anyone suggest they are teachers. It’s hard enough being born, and what follows must be a nightmare for kids. Perhaps the presence of spirit is how it’s done. It could be a real comfort to a child to have omnipresent, visible and audible protection, comfort, and emotional understanding. I don’t think it’s out of the question there might also be a few teachable moments.

There’s very little proof of anything paranormal, so attempting to advance certain theories will never result in unquestionable belief. Certainly, this one-time occurrence does not serve as evidence, but now I want to know! I want to know if my EVP voice was Kenny’s coach, and not a random spirit with too much to say. If she had a hand in his “uh oh” that would be an amazing thing to know.

Of course I plan on recording as much as possible – it isn’t always an easy hookup, but what if I were able to capture this again? Or a few more times? How many examples of this interaction will be necessary to serve as circumstantial proof that we get our first life coaches very early?

I’m reminded of a David Crosby song where he says: “It’s the blind leading the blind and I am amazed, how they stumble homeward through the haze.” It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that we all have a little help now and then.

Lighten the Load

There is a type of gallows humor that sometimes accompanies the possibility and unavoidable certainty of death. Sometimes you just need to lighten the load with levity in order to make it through another day. I started to do that after my first heart attack – it was easier to make jokes; easier than admitting it was my own fault or that I was scared. I still joke about having died on the table, and it seems to occasionally annoy people – it’s just not a funny subject to everyone.

Many people don’t even like to discuss old age or death. My 94 year-old mother and I frequently laugh about all of it, but along with this gallows humor come moments of hard reality. Almost no one really wants to die, and when someone does, there is very little levity to be found. For every heart attack joke, there are many more moments of somber reflection. For my mother, death is an unwanted inevitability and it scares her greatly. She’s ready to go, but she’s not eager. She doesn’t know what awaits her – maybe punishment, she thinks – possibly there’s nothing. Either way, she vows to go gracefully, frightened or not. 

She tells me that with each additional day she is granted, she grows more assured that death means everything will just end. There won’t be any bright lights, no happy relations there to greet her – there might just not be a God, for that matter. That might be something we fool ourselves into believing, and when she closes her eyes for that final moment, everything may possibly stop. The more I think about that, the more terrifying I find it to be. The idea of living without the hope of a hereafter is horrific. That such an intense life force could just end is out of the question.

The afterlife is a bedrock component of my belief system. I record EVP, and hear voices from that place with enough regularity to both comfort and stabilize my faith. And my mother, at who’s home I have recorded well over a thousand voices – voices she has heard herself, does not believe they are real. Instead of accepting that which her own senses can attest to, she rejects. She sees the voices as something I am not smart enough to understand, and she doesn’t believe I should have written about such nonsense.

Perhaps EVP are not the proof of a better place I perceive them to be. Maybe for someone so close to the end as my mother, EVP are no comfort; do not bespeak the promise of transcendent life; do not guarantee triumph over the uncertainty of death. For her, EVP offer no solace; no soothing ministration for the centuries of grim acceptance that one day, we will quit this life, and our fate will only be harsh and final.

What a shame. For me, EVP offer a peek at the immortality of the human spirit, the smallest certainty of hope amid a world of doubt. The voices speak of victory to me. Not with specificity or through revelation, but simply by being there. For me, life is truly short, and when “the eternal” speak, we should listen. Besides, sometimes they lighten the load.