Two-way Street

December and January are the busiest months of the year for me. Of course there’s Christmas and New Years, and while I’m obviously not the only broke soul because of them, keep in mind, I have a ton of family to contend with. But it’s not the money, it’s just all so time consuming.

Adding to the strange mixture of holiday festivity and budget-busting shopping, this time of year also heralds no fewer than 5 close family birthdays and two death anniversaries. Most notably, December 13th was the first anniversary of my sister Margo’s passing. My wife’s birthday comes during this period, along with the birthdays of my mother, two grandchildren, one child, and that of my deceased father. That last one makes the heaviest impact; pulls at the heart strings pretty tightly; tends to move me in a prolonged contemplative way.

It’s because of my father that I began with this paranormal stuff in the first place. I first recorded EVP just to hear from him. I even wrote a book about it, and in many ways, I feel we’ve developed a second relationship because of it. I still quietly celebrate his birthday, and I talk to him regularly, but I’m way beyond needing his approval or partaking in any other psychological father/son thing – I just like the guy. He was a good man. In fact, I can’t even think of anything negative to say about him – he was a great parent, a fantastic role model, and someone I can’t wait to spend time with on the other side.

The fact that I started recording for EVP because of him, and was successful, makes the bond all that much stronger. If you asked me whether or not I’ve ever heard from him, my public reply would be an accurate “I don’t know.” But if really pressed; if we were in a locked room with thick steel walls and a polygraph, I’d sing a different tune. I’d tell you unequivocally that my father has indeed communicated with me often and that it’s been a huge benefit in my life. Knowing he is there allowed me to lose my sister with the certain knowledge she was going to be somewhere cool with dear old dad.

Mediums have described the spirit of a man who follows me everywhere. They’ve said he’s very proud of me, and appears to hang on my every word – “he beams,” they say – he’s very pleased with his son. Again, my public response to such things is to dismiss them out of hand with great amusement at the prospect of such obvious silliness. But likewise, again, I would secretly tell you that it pleases me no end to know he’s around, because I totally believe he is. I saw him twice during the first few months of his transcendence. Both sightings are very easy to dismiss on any number of levels, but the next time we enter that steel room, I’ll tell you all the details.

I’ve learned a great many things from my association with the spirit of my father. I give him almost all the credit for changing certain things about me. I think I’ve become a better person because he’s around and beaming over my shoulder. I feel his presence almost everywhere, and I often think twice before I do something just to make sure he would approve. Sometimes the deceased continue to help us in spite of the circumstances. I’m convinced of it.

I don’t care if the paranormal is real or not. Of course I think it is, but I like what this search for the afterlife has done for me and to me. I like the different point of view it’s provided, the way it’s opened me up, and how I’ve become more tolerant; more understanding; deeper, and I think I have a better sense of “what it all means” on a purely personal level. Most of all, I like pausing every January 12th to pay homage to dad – the only present I need to find is a way to remember. Frankly, it’s sort of like a retreat when you need one the most, but predominantly, it reinforces the knowledge that love is forever a two-way street – no matter how far you have to travel. I feel like I’ve got a lot more traveling to do too. It’s nice having company.
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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.

Paranormal Trust

If I don’t trust you, I don’t want to investigate with you. I know you’re not a thief, and the odds are slim that you’ll murder me in a dark hallway on the third floor, but trust is still a major issue for me. I don’t mind if you gossip a little too much, or if you chew like a cow at the diner. I can handle those political differences and the fact that we can’t agree on whether orbs are paranormal or not. I can even tolerate the nagging feeling that everything I tell you will be retold behind my back incorrectly. I may not like anything about you – your wardrobe, the sound of your ridiculous voice, or the fact that you’re as ugly as sin. I don’t have to like anything about you, but I do need to trust you.

I’ll call this paranormal trust – an unquestionable knowledge that you’ve got my back as much as I’ve got yours, and that when all is said and done, I can be confident in your total and unwavering support. You will always have the team’s best interests at heart, your evidence will always be honest, your attitude will exude a willingness to learn, and if I ever turn to look for help, you’ll be there.

Acting on fear is not an option. You can certainly be frightened, but I need to know you’re doing your job regardless, and I will rely upon you to place a team member’s well-being before your own. That’s how I was trained; you can require the same of me. Safety needs to be at the beginning of every decision, and you can never place your actions in conflict with team objectives.

You must respect the environment being investigated. No rifling through a client’s dresser drawers, raiding their refrigerator, or leaving trash on the premises. Likewise, I can’t abide attempting to confuse the equipment, or faking evidence. In fact, I need to feel confident that you will relentlessly try to debunk even the most convincing occurrence. The same with evidence – no matter who submits it, but I also expect you to defend what you know to be true.

Be on time. Never wander off alone in sensitive areas, or allow a partner to be out of sight or mind. Always maintain your personal equipment, and treat team equipment respectfully and with great care. These may seem like silly points to some, but attention to these kinds of details is a good sign that an investigator is disciplined, reliable, and serious. Be those things.

Obviously, trust is a very personal determination. I’m less concerned about whether or not I think you ask stupid EVP session questions than I am with whether you’re making an honest effort. Spirits can’t be predicted, so they frequently respond to the dumbest stuff, but I need to feel that you’re “in the game” and not just parroting some tv show hotshot.

I don’t personally require my fellow team members to be “good” investigators. That’s relative and wholly subjective, and we can all benefit from improvement. But I definitely insist that your efforts be forthright and that you learn from mistakes. I expect you to be an extension and reflection of me when we’re together, and you should demand the same. In my opinion, being a good investigator comes with time and experience, but being a great one requires a partner you can trust.

Paranormal trust isn’t easy to come by. It’s also not especially difficult to achieve. In my experience, this is very idiosyncratic, and relies on a great deal of luck, unfortunately. Most of the people I’ve investigated with meet my qualifications – I probably couldn’t tolerate otherwise, but it’s not about meeting my standards at all. It’s about setting standards for ourselves. Paranormal investigation is a challenge that deserves our best effort. Anything less is a violation of trust.
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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.

Perception of Truth

Most people who have a paranormal experience of some kind, will tell the truth. I know that probably goes against some current wisdom, because I often hear the comment, “I don’t believe them.” It might come at the end of an uneventful investigation or when the story is incredibly unusual, but I normally believe every word, even though I’m aware that people are apt to magnify their experiences. Coupled with a typical inability to provide good eye-witness testimony, there’s always an excellent chance that what actually happened is not how it was originally reported. That’s a human condition and unless we’re trained and prepared to be credible witnesses, the odds are good we’ll get lots of stuff wrong.

That doesn’t mean people are lying. Or stupid. Or looking for their fifteen minutes of fame. Sure those kinds of people exist, but they’re supposed to be weeded out by the pre-investigation interviews. By the time we walk into a location to investigate, we should feel secure in knowing that our clients are truthful to the best of their ability. Inaccurate? Probably so. Full of exaggeration? Of course! How do you make others believe you’re seeing shadows unless they’re big and black and threaten some form of malice? It’s natural to embellish such things. How do you introduce a group of nerdy strangers with proton packs and half a mile of cable into your home if all you can lay claim to is a locked door that allegedly opens on it’s own?

Besides, after awhile, every occurrence seems more pronounced, and each subsequent problem weighs heavier on the mind. The very nature of something unexplainable, and possibly other-worldly, suggests a building of emotional responses will occur, not measured and well-considered reasonability. It just makes sense to me that when real fear is involved, things get urgent. The more intrusive it becomes, the quicker you need it to stop, because fear easily becomes all consuming. Objectivity is one of the first things to go.

So, am I suggesting that most paranormal accounts are misrepresentations of much lesser events? Absolutely not, but I am suggesting that a person’s veracity should not be in question for characterizing things badly; for inadvertently heightening their own awareness in the hopes of expressing urgency to others. They may not understand anything about what’s going on, but they definitely understand their reaction to it, and how it makes them feel. It’s our job as investigators to sort it out and hopefully define the problem and effect a solution if one is called for. Accuracy is our charge – not theirs.

I believe their angst is real, and that every word of their story represents an honest attempt to communicate that condition. Our being unable to verify or not doesn’t alter the impact of a paranormal encounter – real or imagined, and it doesn’t change the truth or the perception of truth concerning what they’re going through. I believe every tremble in the voice of a frightened mother; each sleepless night spent by a protective spouse; every second lost in childhood. I believe there are voices and shadows, and a dozen odd sounds at 3:00am. And I believe that if the environment is right; if our techniques are sound, and if we’re very very lucky, we’ll be able to catch and know a fraction of their ordeal.

And at the end of the night, when the sun thankfully rises yet again, we begin the hopeful search, through miles of footage and audio, to identify some form of reality. Sometimes it is enough just to know people like us are on the case and pursuing the evidence they know to be true. Sometimes it is enough just to tell them they are safe. But I always believe them. I just don’t know how not to because, what if they’re right? Sometimes they are, you know, whether we find evidence or not.
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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.

Contact High

I think it’s fairly common to wax poetic this time of year. Before the new year begins, some of us love to reflect, and once it arrives, we begin making plans. I’ve had the time to repercus this season, but I don’t think there’s been more than a few minutes of quiet. Sadly, my only alone time has been in the bathroom, and that wasn’t very conducive to evaluation or scheming, but that may all be for the best. Oh sure, it definitely inhibited my paranormal life – there’s no way one can review footage or focus on EVP when children are running everywhere and grown-ups want to socialize, but where’s the upside to being buried alive in chaos? Easy! Now I’ve lost any interest in reviewing the past year, and my future plans don’t go much beyond Tuesday.

However, just because I’ve been robbed of participating in this natural rite of sappy recollection and mindless prognostication, doesn’t mean I can’t muster a few inconsequential pontifications (if you will). So here are some thoughts I have surrounding all the seasonal hoopla.

1. The world is a better place than it was before because now I have 21 pairs of brand new socks.
2. People are still griping about the ACA. Good grief, you turn off the news for one week and nothing has changed. Just stop already! And I thought my life was boring. Take up bungi jumping or something to distract your minds. At least now you can go to the ER when the chord breaks.
3. I honestly never even thought about Santa’s racial identity. Now I realize there are other questions to consider. What is Santa’s political affiliation? He’s American, right? The Claus’ have no children, so they must practice birth control. Who’s paying for that, I wonder?
4. Why does peppermint taste better in cane form?
5. Receiving a loaf of amazing cranberry walnut bread from your neighbors at Christmas is a true holiday miracle. Other than new socks, it doesn’t get any better than that.
6. It really is possible to live in close quarters with 6 or more adults for an extended period of time without killing someone.
7. I’ve never taken a selfie on purpose. Just sayin’.
8. TV shows with Christmas episodes need to air them closer to the actual holiday, doncha think? And how come there are never Easter episodes? Or Quanza specials?
9. Was the entire state of Colorado stoned on January 1st? A contact high?
10. I still don’t understand the term “booty poppin” and I think I might actually be the only one.

Just some thoughts. Listen, I wish I had a clue as to what 2014 will bring, or could reveal some great wisdom I received from 2013. I can’t. I’m just one of those people who never met a New Years Resolution he could keep, so I’m content to count myself lucky to still be alive and kicking, and that’s enough for me. I’m gonna try my best to keep my eyes and ears open though, in the hope that when something really cool comes up, I’ll be ready for it. I expect all kinds of cool stuff will happen too – usually does. Don’t want to be too highly focused on a long list of life-altering things-to-do when something spectacular occurs.

So here’s to taking 2014 by the horns and riding that sucker till it drops! May we all grow as much as we need, learn as much as we can, and love as much as possible. May it always be that today was just so fine, and that tomorrow can’t get here soon enough. Peace.
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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.