Watching

I watched him wither – from a strong, well-considered, vibrant man to a fragile, mentally tortured soul. I watched as dementia quietly slithered inside – molesting his dignity and suffocating his self-respect. And I watched him become simple-minded and confused; cornered and afraid. I watched my father’s mind drift slowly away, as if to sea – a spec on the horizon, and then nothing. I watched his body follow suit; watched him wilt and decay; saw the life struggle to leave him, and then I watched him die.

When disease overwhelmed my sister, its devastation was sudden and careless – seized her essence as though it meant nothing at all; clueless as to the profane loss her absence would create. I could not watch as she quietly surrendered. I couldn’t witness the destruction of someone so dear, and I thought it should have been me. I was older; less significant. I would hardly be missed. But life is imperfect, so she moved along without me.

It is happening again. My mother’s frailty is slowly giving in; her will to live firmly renouncing its hold on life. She flirts with death each day and somehow manages to stay free of its insatiable appetite, but that won’t last long. We know there are no winners in this game – we’ve discussed it. Everyone loses sooner or later, and for her, it has long been later. I confess, there have been times when death seemed the better, more logical servant.

None of this is rare. Everyone has endured the loss of loved ones, and we each clutch a perspective worth adding to the narrative. Every unique point of view is as poignant as it is destructive, but then why should it be otherwise? Death, after all, is no accident. It is an appointment with eternity that escapes no one, offering the promise of everything, and guaranteeing nothing. We all have watched it happen. I know there are many others who have suffered so much more than I; their anguish almost inconsolable; their loss as close to complete as humans can endure. Death has visited me kindly, by comparison, and offered sweet resolution to destinies of pain, trepidation, and torment. 

Death brought peace to my loved ones, and for that I am grateful. But here I sit, once again watching, as my mother’s life slowly sneaks away, and the powers that be are forced to accept their inadequate defense against such a foe. I watch her spirit abandon countenance and leave only the frightening panic of facing a life she is no longer certain was of value. I watch as she questions her beliefs, doubts her resolve, and seeks a way to somehow regain her dignity and some meager assurance that there will be reconciliation and relief. I watch as fear slowly gives way to acceptance, while only sleep offers refuge from the horror of knowing your time is now measured in days. Hours.

We all go through it. We are all forced to see. Maybe so we will learn how to recognize our own short comings; possibly to prepare us for our own trip toward the end. Maybe we watch so that others can reveal the roadmap; a more prudent path to follow, perhaps. Maybe we watch because we are curious, or because it reassures us that nothing lasts longer than it should. Maybe we watch for no other reason than to accumulate last looks – some attempt to remember the animated soul before its evicted. More than likely, we watch because, at some point, that’s all we can do. It is life’s only inevitability. 

It doesn’t matter how difficult this journey becomes, or how easily we traverse each bump along the way. It always hurts, and sometimes in ways we never really understand. We watch death perform its perverse duty because we have to, and I suspect it watches us as well. Looking away is never an option.

____________________________________________________________________________

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

Peanut Butter Is Dangerous!

On Baltimore morning radio, two blockheads, whose paranormal expertise is no better than that of a duck and a ball bearing, discuss ghosts. One boasts that he believes and points to a typical Gettysburg experience, while his buddy is having none of it. “The whole thing is just stupid,” he rants, but three days later he’s singing a different tune. Apparently over the weekend, his motion sensor hallway lights were triggered for no reason, and his garage door opened by itself. Ah, how quickly they turn.

“We’re moving,” he said. “My wife’s mad at me for angering the ghosts and now they’re driving us crazy. We’re gonna hafta move.” His amused buddy wants to know why such a harsh reaction, and proposes calling someone to help find out for sure what’s going on. “I don’t want those idiots in my house! I’d rather move.” I assume he’s kidding, but being one of those “idiots” myself, I’d rather he not call me. Well, he won’t, because the show’s producer suggests a mouse and a power surge – problem solved. This idiot concurs – I doubt the ghosts are angry.

But isn’t it kind of typical? Local media rarely seems capable of dealing with any paranormal subject seriously. They’re always filming some investigators on Halloween doing and saying completely ridiculous stuff. Or, they might feature a local witch – someone in full-Goth mode sporting a pointed hat. They ask her really dumb questions, which she always answers predictably – it’s so sad. Stereotypes and bad punch lines is how anything paranormal is handled locally. “Well Bill, it takes all kinds.” and everyone chuckles. Yes indeed, it does – unfortunately.

Two Halloweens ago, I was invited to explain EVP on the local independent station. I declined. “But it will help your book sales,” he said, thinking that would surely bring about a change in heart. I thanked him politely and also declined his next three attempts. They ran a story about “real life vampires” instead. I still thank my angels for helping me dodge that bullet.

I guess the paranormal still qualifies as one of those “it’s a whacky-world” human interest stories that local anchormen can’t resist every October. One way or another, some poor soul with good intentions is destined to become a laughing stock as he trades his credibility for two minutes of inglorious hometown stardom sandwiched between nonsense and the sports. I don’t know why we do it – I’d rather have strep throat and several staff infections, but every Halloween it’s the same. We’re like mice wandering into one of those plastic traps in search of peanut butter. I thought we would have learned by now – peanut butter is dangerous!

Thank God for BlogTalk radio and other alternative venues. Not all the hosts are exactly charismatic and some of the guests have refined the art of being tedious to a science, but that’s okay. At least Billy Bob doesn’t have to sound like an escapee from Clown College; at least he can maintain his dignity, and his family doesn’t have to cringe themselves to sleep. I suppose I shouldn’t be so hard on the local media – they’re just Lucy pulling back the football one more time. That’s their nature. It’s Charlie Brown who is to blame, you know. When will he learn?
______________________________________________________________________
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.

Physical Evidence

For each of the last three investigations in which I have participated, I’ve returned home sporting a small bruise. Each has been almost identical – on the inside of my upper right arm, smaller than a dime, and circular in shape; very dark at first, but quick to disappear. Folks, these are not major bruises and there has been no pain, itching, burning, or other annoying irritation. (Thanks for your concern, though.) It’s mind-boggling, and I wish I had an explanation.

I’d have taken a photo, but it didn’t seem important until now – three times in a row seems to defy coincidence, doesn’t it? It’s such an unusual occurrence, to say the least, and one would think the investigator in me would have chosen to document it, but frankly, I feel a little silly even mentioning it. So before you jump out of your seat trying to be the first to insist that it’s not paranormal, relax! I’m making no such claims. It’s just so odd, though; doesn’t make a lick of sense; defies all logic, and there’s nothing to make me think it’s related to the esoteric portion of the investigations in question.

But hold on a second. I can’t seem to debunk the darn things. I don’t even know where to begin! It doesn’t come from a camera strap, the clothes I wore, close proximity to chemicals or fire, or the seat belt in my car (which I don’t wear, by the way because that’s just how I roll). I’m reasonably certain a disease is not involved, and the only consistent factor is a proximity with paranormal investigations. This lack of a credible explanation has me stumped, even if there is physical evidence. I don’t bruise easily – never have, so what ever could it be?

Well, some have suggested these bruises are the possible entry points of spirits attempting to temporarily possess me. Uh huh. If it weren’t for evidence discovered in analysis, you wouldn’t even know there was activity at these locations, so I don’t think spirits entered my body and left a bruise. And likewise, I don’t believe they represent a place where a spirit touched me. I also refuse to accept alien abduction as the culprit, or an ectoplasmic allergic reaction, over-exposure to electro-magnetic fields, an outward manifestation of fear, a warning from God, or radiation poisoning from Hell.

I suppose it could be psychosomatic, but logic suggests I’d have chosen something a little more dramatic. A cry for help? I doubt it. A latent need for attention? Please. My absolute favorite suggestion included my wife’s hair iron, a deep sleep, and her subconscious need to inflict revenge of some kind. I assure you, that’s not the case either. She may have good reason, but she’s not spiteful.

However, it did occur to me that this situation is very much like the paranormal in one overwhelmingly obvious way – it’s unexplainable and will probably remain so. Of course, I’ll be ready after the next investigation. Cameras, meters, and a crack team will be poised for installment number four, but I think we all know how it will go down. Much ado will be made and nothing will happen. Just when I’m primed, prepared, well-equipped and full of my “mature” version of youthful exuberance, nothing will show. Skeptics will suggest I made it up, team members will be supportive, and friends will be polite, but I bet these incidents stop at three. Sigh… Here we go again.
______________________________________________________________________
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/
______________________________________________________________________
Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
Theree Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Temporal Therapy

We’ve been anxious about the afterlife from our beginning. For thousands of years we’ve entertained a constantly evolving and intense curiosity centered around our own demise. What happens when we die? Where do we go? What about our soul? Can we come back? We seem plagued by so many questions that appear to have no definite answers.

Some of our inquiries find religious solutions or resolve themselves within the science of “the times.” These offer mechanisms of faith and knowledge that appear to provide both rejoinder and life-affirming action, but they have proven to be temporary, and over time, return for another generation’s consideration. In short, over the millennia we’ve come to very few correct conclusions, which is why we still spend so much time on the same old issues.

Today’s paranormal investigator seems to focus mainly on spirit communication. Of course that’s over simplifying a bit for the sake of brevity, but what used to be ancestor worship seems to have evolved into proving the afterlife through contact. Many of us might deny that is our signature interest, but in some form or iteration, that which follows life is at our core. Today’s paranormal is all about the afterlife. We don’t seem to mind not understanding the particle accelerator, but we are frantic to know exactly what happens when we die. If you think about it, that’s pretty significant. It truly helps to define us, and therefore, should lead us to a better understanding of our human condition. A worthy end indeed, and a valuable contribution to society, right?

But I think we get confused into believing that every problem actually has a solution, and that all we need to do is find the right one. There are so many theories, and many of them “feel” so right… Certainly one must be accurate, even though history has shown that incontestable truths become old-time foolishness soon enough. Our modern ideas fall by the wayside in the wake of new and better discoveries. We proclaim that our experience teaches us reality, that our careful research offers insight, and that spiritual understanding provides “the way.” But we’re not so bright. Even though we sputter and bluster and pontificate about thus and such, we still know nothing about the afterlife for certain.

I recently found myself trying to ease the very worried and heavy heart of a 94 year-old woman, as she pondered the uncertainty of what awaits her. And I lied. I told her all about the wonders and joy of a rich hereafter; about an eternal existence free from bodily failure and mental degradation. I told her how she and her lost loved ones would meander through time in peaceful bliss – without a care or worry; without so much as a single fly in the ointment of everlasting nirvana. I told her my favorite theories – those that spoke to me. I told her as if I knew them to be true, and they seemed to soothe her restless imagination. But I was wrong, and I knew it.

Words are usually only temporal therapy, but what’s so wrong about taking our death with a dose of the inevitably fabulous? Are the facts so sacrosanct that our only final certainty must be that we haven’t a clue? Isn’t it better to believe there will be a new, exquisite life emerge through that final exhale?

I don’t know. I think there are no honest answers – just more questions, but there comes a time when all we really care about is finding a calm and peaceful now, even if that “now” is no more than the final second of our final breath. It should be sufficient to know that whatever awaits us is worth waiting for, but can that be enough? Will that satisfy the itch? I doubt it, because this is not about who we are. It’s about who we will be and our instinctive need to move forward.
_____________________________________________________________________
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

Respect for the Medium

I’m just a weekend away from my reading with a medium. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while, and if you are a listener of The Voices Podcast, then this is not news. Regardless of how excited I am about it, there is still a great learning experience to be had, even though I hold a life-long mistrust of mediums that has only recently softened. 
 
Lately, I’ve had some positive first-hand experiences, so now seems like the perfect time for both the reading itself and for whatever leap of faith I’ll have to take. I attended one of these things with my daughter some time ago, and I was remarkably impressed by the medium’s accuracy, even though she didn’t hit every nail on the head. Nobody’s perfect, but none of the usual stereotypes proved true either, so I decided that day that I wanted to record a personal reading for the podcast. This has been in the works for many moons.
 
I’ve been extended a number of free mini-sessions over the past few years – impromptu, short ventures of five minutes or less – probably offered because of what I do with EVP. But these have always seemed somewhat preposterous – full of Native American spirit guides, wolves that travel by my side, and old crone-like women protecting me. I don’t know what to make of this stuff, but an full-length reading should be more conclusive. The medium I have chosen is someone I know, but she is clueless about my personal history or that of my family, so if the other side chooses to communicate, almost anything they say will be unknown to her ahead of time – I’ve told her nothing. We haven’t discussed my goals or intentions, my attitude, or what I would like to hear. This is going to be a pretty cold reading, and a fair test of her gift – she’ll be completely on her own. Whatever happens, will happen – accurate or not.
 
Believe it or not, I have an odd history of skepticism, and nothing has tested it more than mediumship, but that’s primarily because you so rarely are able to prove the findings as right or wrong. Either way, my intentions are not to judge her accuracy. Her contribution to the paranormal is an important and significant aspect of the field, insofar as mediums speak to the heart and soul of the deceased. EVP seem primitive and incomplete when compared to her work, and yet they receive more universal credibility. That seems unfair to me since the medium is the ultimate conduit in spirit communication. If Dad can’t speak the language, he’ll need an interpreter; if Aunt Sue is lost, she’ll need more than my audio recorder or IR cameras. 
 
So, it seems that mediums operate completely in the realm of unbelievability. It is difficult enough for me to deal with a mouthy skeptic – I can image the flack a medium has to dodge. Therefore, my hopes are for a good reading, and even though I can promise you everything will be taken with a grain of salt, I intend to view the situation as an experience well worth both the money and the effort – no matter what. Voices Podcast listeners will get to go along for the ride, so I recommend the rest of you tag along just this once – maybe we’ll all learn something, and generate a new and much deserved respect for the medium.
_______________________________________________________________
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

 

A Little Paradise

I have had enough! I need a vacation. Respite. An intermission from life; adult recess. A reprieve, man! Now, if only all I have to do is wait until August! Well, I like the summer – 100 degree days and all, but I love the ocean. That includes the bathing suit sand, the nagging seagulls and the incessant jelly fish. Bring ’em on – they can even sting me, as long as I’m nowhere near here when they do.

I want to enjoy peaceful, lazy palms on white sands. I want to live a Corona commercial. I want my most complex decision to be whether to shoot at 1/1000 of a second or go for low depth-of-field. I want to play dominoes often enough to actually win once – maybe twice. I want to watch “The Wild Bunch” on my iPad in a beach chair under an umbrella, and not have to explain why I like it. I want the sound of crashing waves to lull me to sleep late at night and wake me very early every morning. I want to pick up stupid seashells and convince myself how totally enthralling I find them. I want to tell myself that one day I’ll move there permanently, play guitar outside without an audience, and stare aimlessly at a very blue horizon.

I don’t want to watch children, make meals, Swiffer the floors, or solve problems. I don’t want to offer words of wisdom or comfort to people who think I’m stupid, read 300 emails a day, or “go off” about how idiotic my daughter’s softball coach is. I am through with ignorant drivers, crazy religious freaks, political pundits, lazy store clerks, and all but the most basic decision-making. I don’t even want to finish this sentence – that’s how “over” things I am right now. And I deserve a vacation! Not because I work so hard, or because my boss is a fool (I’m retired), or even because my life is oppressive. It’s just time! Ya know? It is finally time to pack as much stuff as we can, get on an airplane, and breathe in a little paradise.

Below is a photo of where we are going. I understand the tv reception is pretty awful, and the Internet is hit and miss. How glorious! It’s an eight hour flight too, but I can’t wait – it’s only four months away. Four months? Good grief, that’s 1/3 of the year – over 120 days! But I can make it, and I know it’ll be worth the wait. If your vacation is going to be better than our’s, don’t tell me. I don’t need to know. It’s not about that anyway, but I know me, and if I start thinking about your lobster omelets, cracked crab for lunch, and daily full body massages, it will just fester.

I’m kidding, of course – sorta… But I do hope all of us have the chance to wind down, recharge, and basically just relax. Vacations are very important to our well-being – mental and physical, so I wish everyone as many days of sheer heavenly bliss as you can afford. So, St. Croix, here we come. Thirty feet from the Caribbean, and many hundreds of miles from home. Just look at the picture! Well, I know it’s not exactly the Taj Mahal, but it sure won’t suck.

________________________________________________________________________photo_
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

Ongoing and Current

Knowing the future must be a ghastly existence. Who ever thought that one up? To know years in advance that you and everyone you love would die in a bloody heap of metal on Route Whatever can’t be encouraging. Where’s the joy in a quarterback knowing his team will win a future Super Bowl, but that he will break his neck on third and one? Oh sure, we are all afforded some brief vision into the next few moments. Just this morning, I realized that if I didn’t stop driving stupid and distracted, it wouldn’t matter what I planned for dinner tonight – I’d be eating hospital food. That’s not prognostication, of course, but it’s as far in advance as I want to see.

I don’t believe spirits know the future either. Partly because they never reveal it, and partly because I’m not so sure they could handle it any better than I would. But what about the countless messages that mediums reveal from the other side? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve never known of a medium who delivered that kind of apocalyptic stuff, have you? Most of what the other side talks about has to do with themselves. “We’re fine. We’re proud of you. We love you. The weather’s great.” When do they venture down the Oracle Road even a little? Mediums tell you the name of your unborn son, or whether or not you’ll quit work to be an artist in Paris. They almost never tell you anything you can’t alter. They predict intelligently, but they don’t know the final future. Who would want to?

Living in the past sucks too? Why do we think spirits do that? Why relive bad times over and over? Or good ones! Can the past be changed? It seems to me that eternally living in the past would be like a horrible, cosmic, lethal shot of heroin from which you always recover – quickly and miserably. How do you escape the doldrums of reliving only – of never actually adding to the ledger; caught in a constant loop. No, that’s just unacceptable. I can’t imagine choosing to spend my spiritual eternity like that no matter how hung up I am now.

I’m sure the present for our spirit counterparts is different than it is for us. I don’t know why I’m sure of it, but it makes sense that if everything else is incomparable, an understanding of what is “the present” would be as well. Most of the spirits I hear from are very much about the now – tempered with some great memories, of course, but from everything I can tell, even though their reality is different, it’s ongoing and current. They have things to do; places to go. But doesn’t that make sense?

We always seem to feel that once our loved ones graduate this plain, they become like Superman or, dare I say it – like God. We think they’re either trapped in a horrible whirlwind of suffering, or they’ve got every base covered at once. They know everything, see everything, and understand all truths. Talk about over-achieving! But for all we know, the next step in the process of life is just that – one more step; one step below the next one. What could still be in store for us? And after that?

We haven’t a clue! Especially me, since Clueless is my middle name, but I’m aware enough to know that I object to toiling through a life that is only intimate with the past, or possessing an awareness of the actual future that would turn me suicidal. Give me a today – a vibrant, capricious, always fantastically fickle present. One that requires me to be in it. You can take away my body, and remove any other remnants of living humanity you like, as long as I’m part of a here and now. That’s what I think – how about you?