It’s a Calling

We all have things that keep us busy. Sometimes I cringe when the phone rings or groan when my message alert goes off. “I have too much to do for this nonsense!” But I absolutely adore “the call” for an upcoming investigation. I don’t know why exactly, because paranormal investigations are a lot of work. For me, that usually means an excess of 6 hours of video to watch, 3 hours of audio, assorted digital photos, Spirit Box recordings, and time lapse images. Reviewing all of these is definitely a task, and it eats away at my time-starved days, not to mention the incredible boredom built into the process.

So, then why do I love it? It’s not because my life is empty; I don’t need friends – I have children. I don’t lack intellectual stimulation, or crave new ways to occupy all the spare time I don’t have. There is precious little enjoyment watching hour after hour of static video, so the anticipation of seeing a ghost must keep me going, right? Nah. Been there, done that. So why do I drop everything and run off into the dark with a handful of equally insane people, lugging suitcases and camera bags, bottles of warm water, and enough cigarettes to kill me on the spot? Is boring the new fun?

This is a calling – that’s why. Just one of those things in life that I feel destined to do. Rain, shine, or ten feet of snow – I’ll be there if it’s at all humanly possible, and I won’t regret a single minute. It’s a calling. And not everyone who has tried paranormal investigation has been called. So, in case you were wondering whether you’re made of the right stuff, here are ten questions to ask yourself.

1. Are you concerned about missing the newest episode of Degrassi (or any TV show)?
2. Do you buy AAA batteries at the Dollar Store?
3. Do you see demons around every corner? (If so, go to church, and never come near a paranormal team.)
4. Can you differentiate between being “touched” and walking into a spider web?
5. You do realize spirits are the only ones allowed to whisper, right?
6. Do you still think EVP stands for electric voice people?
7. Did it take you six months to figure out that the ghost in your kitchen is the ice-maker?
8. Do you understand that the black shadow who follows you everywhere and who mimics your every move is actually you? (Hint: Don’t stand in front of light sources.)
9. Do you know what the words “personal hygiene” mean?
10. Are you one of those who thinks investigations require more of a party atmosphere – whenever possible?

Some of you may have additional questions, but these work for me. However, for those of us who feel this endeavor is actually a calling, there’s one permanent, universal necessity – behave like you’ve got some sense. That’s a little vague, I suppose, but if you think you’re prepared to handle paranormal investigation, common sense is the first prerequisite. I’ve met very few investigators I didn’t like, but I’ve met some who shouldn’t be there. Either way, if you’re called, you already know, regardless of where you buy those batteries.
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

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Anybody’s Guess

We all have opinions. We have religious opinions, opinions about politics, about how to raise children, what constitutes the best diet, how much to drink, the coolest car… You name it, we tend to have an opinion about it. And one would hope these are educated opinions – substantiated by facts of some kind. Meryl Streep is the “best actress” because of all her awards, her box office success, and tons of critical acclaim. But other facts might suggest Cate Blanchette is the best, or Helen Mirren, or any number of others. When we’re smart, we filter our opinions through as many facts as we can, and temper the results with only a slight dose of personal feelings.

But things paranormal don’t flirt with things factual, so whatever we say about them is guesswork. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a believer as there is. I’m completely convinced about almost all of it – I just don’t have facts or figures to quote in defense of my beliefs. In almost all cases, I’m guessing. I hear EVP easily enough, and I know how to determine whether what I’m hearing is explainable or not, but that’s the extent of it. The who, what, when, where, why and how of it all is anybody’s guess. So, when I tell you I’ve recorded the voice of Miss Lucy, there’s actually no way to know for sure. I’m just speculating, and you should know that. An unsupported opinion is a guess.

If you see an apparition, I certainly won’t doubt you, but conclusions drawn beyond the sighting itself aren’t facts. You may be logical, perfectly apply human nature, and adhere to every expert criteria there is, but any further deductions will never be anything more than guesses. In fact, if we’re honest with ourselves, the only actual facts we have are that the phenomena we record do truly exist. That’s all, and I know we think that’s adequate; that we can take our evidence to the whole world and proclaim our discovered realities far and wide, but it isn’t enough.

I completely understand why hardcore skeptics aren’t impressed. I wish they’d find a way to be more respectful; more open-minded, and I do wish they’d shut the hell up sometimes, but I get it. I really do. Still, the fact remains, almost every statement we make surrounding anything paranormal is a guess. It doesn’t even qualify as opinion.

This doesn’t bother me. That’s probably because I’ve always known that regardless of how smart I became, most things about life would exceed my intellect. Not that I’m stupid by human standards, but there’s just too much we don’t understand; too few facts to validate so many opinions. A Bob Dylan song says, “there’s something happening here, and you don’t know what it is…” No, I don’t, actually. I suspect you don’t either.

In “the paranormal” we guess, but how exciting to be at this place in history! To possibly be among those who just might guess well enough to discover something universally true… Imagine that! Of course, the problem with history is you never really know how it’s gonna turn out, and it kinda goes on forever. But history suggests that one day we’ll have answers. Maybe not for everything we question; maybe not answers we like, but answers enough to remove some of this guesswork, and season our thoughts with facts. I wanna be around for that. I’m guessing I won’t be.
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Ah, Vacations…

Vacations are probably the best part of the year. They trump any holiday mankind has ever created. Even if Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween were all rolled into one; even if I were given fifty presents, a perfect turkey dinner and all the “fun-sized” Milky Ways I could eat, I’d still choose a genuine vacation every time. So it’s important not to waste these precious, extra-curricular moments of life. A trip to Granny’s is great, but no matter how long it lasts, it will never qualify as a vacation. The same is true for one of those “just stay home, sleep in and relax” things. Or a week of day trips. Any time you hear yourself say “we didn’t feel like going anywhere this year,” you’re lying, and it’s not a vacation. It’s blasphemy, and you could maybe possibly be punished.

Ya gotta plan a vacation, and it has to include doing stuff at a place you’ve never been before. I’m sorry. There aren’t many rules to this, but those are non-negotiable, because “vacation” is itself a holy word, and should therefore not be taken in vain. If your phone or computer is in any way an integral part of your plans, you are in danger of a spiritual crisis. In fact, receiving text messages, emails, and checking one’s Facebook status are among the worst infractions of The Vacation Code.

In case you’re thinking this point of view is a bit extreme or at the very least, overly zealous, here are some interesting tips about vacations that may have escaped you.

1. Vacations do not discriminate. For example, murderers and politicians are known to frequently partake. Should you run across one of these in vaca-mode, don’t panic. Move away from the raw bar and order something less ostentatious.
2. If you’ve read more than four books during a seven day period, you are not on vacation. (Guide books do not apply.)
3. Bringing actual work on a vacation is patently irreverent and parts of your body will begin to fall off.
4. You are required to tell everyone you meet where you live. “Hello, my name is Hans and I come from Dusseldorf.” Keep in mind, if you can get away with it, lying is acceptable.
5. There is no such thing as “over-packing.” That is a despicable rumor created by AARP.
6. There are secret, government Vacation Vouchers available. This is very hush-hush, so if you’re uncertain whether or not you qualify, you don’t.
7. Always plan on not being able to drink the local water. Generally, potable deficiency figures are higher for the more beautiful locations. But don’t be discouraged – Coca Cola products are in abundance everywhere, as well as vodka, and many variations of rum.
8. Always exceed the limits for carry-on luggage. The rest of us will take great delight in watching the flight crew force you to check it. After all, spectacle is everything on a plane.
9. Do not try to see the world alphabetically. There are too many A’s.
10. Dress appropriately. Flip flops and cut-off sweats belong at the beach, not the airport. Usually, if you think your appearance is of no consequence, you’re tacky, and even though you’ve just slathered on the Mitchum, others will assume you smell bad.

And there you have it. I hope these observations have been helpful and I wish all of you “happy trails” this year. We’ve just returned from our vacation – it was spectacular. Next up? Fun-sized Milky Ways, of course.
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/
______________________________________________________________________
Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.