Primrose Lane

Lately, I haven’t been commenting in much detail about the paranormal – I’ve been avoiding specifics as much as possible. I received a few emails from a listener of The Voices Podcast who suggested that those of us who share our research with “the public” are committing a great disservice. He suggested I was leading my listeners (and readers) down Primrose Lane; taking advantage of their vulnerability and the very human need to believe in something beyond the physical life.

At first, I just knew he was wrong, but then I began to think about it; really think about it, and I found myself shying away from the subject more than usual. I certainly don’t want to misrepresent anything – purposefully or not; don’t want to lead anyone in any direction, much less the wrong one. I despise people who use the paranormal to deceive or dishonestly profit at the expense of others, and I want no part of it. Period! And of course, I recognize that there’s more of that going on in the field than should be acceptable, so I have always tried my absolute best to be honest. I feel I succeed at that, but unfortunately, maybe not well enough. Certainly my letter-writing friend doesn’t think so, as he suggested my predilection for EVP is a negative and potentially harmful influence on those who might take it seriously.

Well, that woke me up. Take it seriously? Shucks, I’m one of those – I take it seriously. I was duly insulted and under normal circumstances I’d stridently mount a rousing defense, but his comments deserve consideration, and have therefore lingered with me since. The question arises as to whether anything suspected of paranormal origin should ever be investigated by anyone outside of a purely scientific or clinical background. After all, plumbers don’t diagnose an illness – we rely on medical science for that, where trained individuals make decisions based on facts and proven realities. We don’t allow the kid who delivers the pizza to set policy about our nuclear stockpile, or to negotiate treaties based on his “sense of things.”

There’s no Ph.D. in paranormal science; no established practicum for spirit communication. In fact, all we’ve got are a lot of folks like you and me, and I don’t know about you, but I’m just not sure of the final impact of my work. Am I a purveyor of false hope? Is every EVP I capture just one more exercise in sophistry? Is mankind better off knowing nothing until something can be proven? Since so much of what we do is based on an individual’s understanding of unsubstantiated theory, isn’t it possible we might offer no more than regurgitated folklore and potentially errant interpretations of ambiguous evidence?

I can deal with being wrong, because in the paranormal, most of us are, most of the time. But how does that help our clients? They assume we know what we’re doing; that we can identify their problem, and affect solutions. Can we? Or are we metaphorically firing in the dark in the hopes of hitting something – anything? And what is the collateral damage of our actions? I’ve seen the look in some client’s eyes – a kind of desperate hope that finally someone can help them, but is that what we’re doing?

I know that most of our hearts are in the right place; that the basis for our efforts come from a strong need to understand that which is unexplainable. But what if all the theories, ideas, and analytics are wrong? What if, out of thousands of possible answers, only those we’ve overlooked are accurate? Perhaps we’re unable to comprehend the truth, or too primitive to recognize it all around us. Good intentions or not, perhaps even our best efforts are doomed to become lies.

Personally, I think our need to believe in something beyond the physical life is at the core here, and if EVP give us the hope that existence can be everlasting, I don’t see a problem. If you object to that kind of hope; if you don’t want people to believe in an afterlife; if you think others should be quiet so that your point of view will prevail, then maybe you’re the problem – not me. But you almost had me there.
__________________________________________________________________________________
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.

Advertisements

“Are there no workhouses?”

Who doesn’t like Christmas? Okay… The holidays. Everybody likes the holidays! Show me a person who honestly hates this phenomenally festive time of year, and I’ll show you a weird, possessed, green scaly creature living at the top of a mountain with a stray dog, whose only contribution to the world is as the subject of an unauthorized Seussian biography.

But I confess – the holidays have not always found great favor with me. For one, I detest shopping, and even though Amazon has proved to be a fantastic alternative, my budget will still be fractured for months. I have other issues – like commercialization, holiday tv programming, over-hyped films, too much fruitcake (anything in excess of zero), people wearing elf outfits in public, red and green as a fashion statement, and Christmas music for the entire month of December. I mean, how much good cheer and fa la la can one take? Bah humbug!

For those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, please forgive me for adding yet another useless column about the subject, but you’ll be able to take some respite in my lack of feckless Christian sermonizing. The baby Jesus was born in June (probably a Gemini) under significantly different surroundings than we’ve been led to believe, so it doesn’t seem appropriate to go there. Christmas may even be the most religiously dishonest holiday in the human arsenal of holidays, and it’s very easy to complain about. But for me, there are other things about Christmas that tickle my warm fuzzies, so here are ten of those (in no particular order).

1. Christmas trees. Even the lamest, most Charlie Brown kind of Christmas tree adds a hopeful something to the atmosphere – a sense of potential growth, perhaps. Dunno, but I like ’em!
2. There is justice in that the guy with twelve million blinking lights on his house will be paying an insane electric bill for the privilege. Viva la Power Company!
3. Someone will be giving me socks. You can’t beat new socks. They’re clean, and warm, and soft, and all cushiony… You get new socks every day in Heaven, you know.
4. Watching very small children unwrap presents is the best! It doesn’t matter what’s inside, it’s on to the next one.
5. Hot chocolate after shoveling snow always tastes noticeably better during the holidays. Just does – marshmallows or not. For those who live in a less snow-friendly place, I’m sorry.
6. Any kind of children’s Christmas play or holiday musical is probably the best gift you’ll receive all season. Relax, develop a tin ear, and enjoy the purity of it all.
7. Santa Claus! The greatest invention in the entire recorded history of mankind. (If you’re one of those parents who gives your kid a lump of coal, you should be ashamed. And don’t brag about it, the rest of us are appalled and think you’re despicable.)
8. Memories of Christmas past – especially when they remind me of my youth. Sigh…
9. The 1953 Alistair Simms version of The Christmas Carole. Dickens was a genius, and this movie is still the bomb. “Are there no workhouses?”
10. Waking up early Christmas morning and knowing that it’s finally here. There’s something special about that. All the work is done, the stress has been survived, the angst has disappeared, and the world seems a little quieter than usual; a little more peaceful, and I get the feeling that it’s all been worth it.

I guess the holidays are what you make them, and however you choose to keep them should be just fine with the rest of us, but not to take advantage of the happiness they’ve been known to provide seems like a waste to me. So please, a little peace on earth and good will toward men is a great way to go. It may be trite, but that’s my wish for all of you – green scaly mountain dwellers included.
__________________________________________________________________________________
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.

The Next Level

I’ve just completed my interview for The Voices Podcast with B.J.Moylan, which is scheduled for publication today. BJ is a good friend, and he used to be my boss at PHPRS (Perry Hall Paranormal Research Society) until the team disbanded in late 2012. We don’t spend as much time together as we used to, so it was great just to be able to sit down and talk. He’s definitely a complex guy. He’ll give you the proverbial shirt off his back or his last dollar, but BJ is no shrinking violet, and he could be tough on the team from time to time.

PHPRS was his baby, so he needed to give his best and expected no less from us, but as he states in the interview, “the client comes first.” I can attest that he definitely walked that walk. He expected us to perform to some very high standards – our every move was a reflection on the team, and he insisted we comport ourselves professionally. Sound harsh? It wasn’t. Paranormal investigation is a serious matter, and there’s no good substitute for the right kind of training. Occasionally, team members were asked to leave because they weren’t able to live up to our expectations, and I always felt bad about it, but those of us who drank the Kool-Aid believe we grew in the field because of it.

I felt that what we were doing was significant stuff – he instilled that attitude in each of us, I think, and I personally appreciated the structure and discipline. I believe that without BJ’s influence and guidance I probably would have never succeeded, or understood what it means to “take it to the next level” – a mantra of his from the first day I met him. There was always so much more to learn, and it had nothing to do with our individual egos or feelings. If you wanted to play in our sandbox, you had to be good. Trust me – we were.

When the team disbanded; when he reached the end of his paranormal rope, I felt a little lost. I’ve moved on, of course – he trained me to finish, and my time’s not up just yet, but sometimes I get a little nostalgic. Even though I’ve been blessed to work with many fantastic investigators, walking the dark with BJ was both relaxed and purposeful, and I miss it. Everything seemed to go smoothly and always felt productive – even when nothing happened. We had a chemistry in there, and I have a feeling that will be tough to duplicate. That’s okay though – I know what to strive for.

PHPRS will forever represent the high bar for me. I can look back at something great as I try to become better. And I will, you know, because that was part of the culture too – constant growth, an aversion to complacency, and a strong recognition that there’s always more to learn. We take these things with us through life, you know. And it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how intelligent, how much you think you know, or how creative you happen to be, there’s always “the next level,” as the man said.

I think this might be a little too sappy for BJ. He might not even be aware of the influence he has on so many of us. Lord knows he’s not perfect, but even now, every time I step into a dark, creepy room I think of him. It’s unavoidable – the lessons have served me well; the discipline and structure have given me clarity and resolve. In a way, he still indirectly investigates, and the team still functions because the legacy is so solid. And the next level is always just ahead. Always.
______________________________________________________________________
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.