Category Archives: The Reason

Across the street from the west side of the Colorado State campus is a Planned Parenthood center, tucked behind a Qdoba and a travel agency. Outside it, on the street, when the temperature is over 45 degrees, moralists stand with signs condemning abortion.

I don’t play politics. I think politics is a hateful and toxic realm. I like constructive discussions, but even then they have to be approached casually, open-minded, and usually with some degree of meta-awareness to help keep folks from getting too heated. Most of the time I avoid opinions because 1) I usually don’t know enough about the matter or 2) because whoever I’m discussing the issue with will likely not want to change their mind, and frankly, I probably won’t want to either.

One of these moralists was standing lonely by the brick wall today with a sign reading “Be thankful that your mother chose life.”

And from this I was struck, not in a political sense, but in a cosmic one, where the grandness of the universe dwarfed both moral debates, or late-night heart-pounding decisions, (or next-morning heart-pounding decisions, or next-month heart-pounding decisions).

My mother indeed chose life. As did yours. Whether it was an accident, a plan, a pleasant surprise, or a stressful decision.

But she was one of a series of decisions. Stray bullets missed, ill-timed illness dodged, a “holy shit!” moment and that kind of awkward laughter when you ran a red light and narrowly missed collision, when your horse threw your greatest grandfather and he lay, broken, wondering if he’d be found in time, a long walk on a cold night.

Further still, atoms colliding, hydrogen and helium in supernova spectacle, manifest oxygen, carbon, bubble forth this life, your parents, their parents before them, gasses of space, light years and that perfect distance from a star.

How many hundreds of trillions of voices of those who could-be and could-have-been cry out,

thousands lost in a stray bullet, the silence in the space after shrieking metal where the laugh should have been, the chill wind across cooling skin, a baby’s cries each time the deed is done or a box of contraception purchased.

I don’t know when contraception turns to abortion, where prevention becomes killing,

where

that death so empty,

the part that draws tears, for me, at funerals,

of what could have been,

rings in silence the same way as any other death, but more universal, more pressing,

and so surrounding, emphasizes both the

vastness, our own insignificance,

does it matter anyway, so long as we are alive, were alive, will be alive?

Because equally, from this vastness we came

by design or guide or happenstance or

from gasses we emerged, and somehow beat the odds, and someday too will be

what could have been.

Be grateful your mother chose life,

be grateful the universe so aligned, that from one ripple you rose,

you. only you.

and wonder if it would be a different you had they waited, killed, miscarried, later conceived,

and then wonder at the others until you join them anyway.

But if it makes you feel better, wonder of the ripple, study your hand or your skin or your lungs or just the fact that

you’re here at all.

What Could Have Been

GHI Gets Controversial

Got around to watching the controversial GHI episode a bit earlier tonight, and despite the late hour, felt the need to chime in.

If you didn’t see the episode, the team went to investigate some Mayan ruins in Belize. Due to reports of activity escalating after a bloodletting ritual (the site was a place of ancient human sacrifice thousands of years prior), the team decided to repeat the ritual to see if that activity would increase the way it did in the reports. The ritual involved cutting the volunteer, Susan, with an obsidian blade on her forearm to draw a bit of blood that was then mixed in an incense bowl and lit aflame.

When the episode aired, Twitter blew up. Concerned parents expressed their distaste, Kris Williams spoke out about her thoughts and people supported and rebutted and the team seemed divided and general drama ran downhill.

But it’s never so simple. Here’s my breakdown on what needs to be considered:

Cultural Differences.

This is an international team of Ghost Hunters studying different cultures, ancient history, and various supernatural occurrences.

We in the West have this inherent popular notion that we know better, that our science is more accurate, and that other cultural customs are barbaric and uncivilized, by our own lenses and standards in how we view the world. (It’s this kind of thinking, I might add, that leads to the eradication of culture in western colonialization of such continents as Africa and Australia and the Americas.) But there’s more than one way to make an omelette. And some seem pretty strange to us, yet may well be no less valid.

We cannot call unfamiliar thinking ridiculous or inappropriate simply because we do not understand it.

So when you take a team of western investigators and look into different cultural traditions and beliefs, we have to considers them as valid as our own. We have to consider that indeed, we may well (in fact, do not at all) know everything. (In fact, what we know as science will be turned on its head in another hundred to five hundred years. Already Newtonian mechanics and Euclidian geometry have been radically modified by the work of mathematicians like Albert Einstein).

The team even stated that they intended to compare the different ways, the modern versus the more ancient, and see which got more activity. This is the work that needs to be done, especially as it applies abroad.

We also have to consider the efforts of teams to recreate circumstances of eyewitness experiences. Where the event happened, what time of day, who was present, what was happening. Here, a ritual was taking place that might well have drawn the activity, if it’s harmless, why not recreate it?

Which leads to my next point,

Was it harmless? 

Physically, for Susan, it was only a small cut. They weren’t sacrificing the poor girl.

Is conducting cultural occult rituals that we don’t know much about possibly dangerous? Quite likely. But such is the risk you run not only as an international investigator, but a ghost hunter in general. You are absorbed in a world quite possibly very dangerous to yourself and your family. This fact has been exploited by many shows and popular representations of the field, but just the same, taking personal protective precautions are always important, and mindset and intention are key when exploring unknown territory.

And I happen to know personally that Barry is a very aware and safe investigator when it comes to darker forces in the field, and is someone I feel very comfortable with standing over my shoulder.

But what about the children? 

Many parents expressed objections that such a ritual was shown on a family television show. Also valid.

Teenagers are likely enough to hurt themselves, one twitterer said, why give them another reason?

The sorry fact of teenagers hurting themselves these days has little to do with the occult and more to do with acceptance, community, self-image, respect, and mental disorder. Watching a ritual for bloodletting on GHI won’t effect that.

If your children now decide to hurt themselves to call upon spirits, well, that’s certainly very dangerous and likely situationally inappropriate. But this is really not so different from any other part of a ghost hunting program. Controversial techniques are often used. Provoking being one of them. Opening one’s self up to possession or other various forms of witchcraft or occult methods that might make appearances can lead to harmful consequences.

The consequences that come from (your children, or even you yourself) doing these actions at home (or anywhere else for that matter that is not safe), come not from the awareness of these actions happening on their television sets, but from the misunderstanding of their purpose.

If your children watch this episode and think that cutting themselves is a great way to contact their great uncle, then they probably shouldn’t be watching the show in the first place.

But harming yourself is stupid.

Indeed it can be. Blood is gross and makes many people very uncomfortable, and if they want nothing to do with being a part of, or being around, such a ritual, that’s of course fine.

But that’s a big difference from objecting to it on principle. The principle of it is a very layered debate that can take a deeper form in any of the categories I listed above.

I beg you think though, that if it’s only the fact of a bit of blood for an otherwise good cause (granted, debatable on the spiritual safety, yes), then what’s so bad about that? We give blood by day in the west to save people after various tragedies and accidents. If you’re not into blood, fine, but don’t condemn the act.

Because then people get upset

If people want to express their opinion over it all on twitter or facebook, that’s also fine. It’s just a shame when it gets personal and people feel attacked or thrown under busses or whatnot,

but as with everything, there are deeper reasons, deeper considerations begging to be mentioned, and it’s never as simple or as personal as it might look.

But those are just my thoughts.

Think I’m off base on any one of my points? Sound off in the comments down below.

What Scares You?

Thoughts? Comments? Leave ’em down below!

Something Followed Me HOME?!

Leave your comments below! I’m super curious to hear your guys’s thoughts and analysis

Striking.

It’s my personal undertaking to study the mysterious, the unknown, the peel back the darkness, and stretch with blind eyes,

to see.

I write; I explore mystery and the depths of human emotion and perseverance, possibilities. I hunt; I walk into the darkness on weekend evenings and I pore over recordings, frame by frame, listening for the tiniest whisper, and watching for the fleeting shadow. I study; I sit in classes and I learn about the philosophy of perspective, of science, of religious experience, of how much we truly don’t know and how much we can only imagine.

And then some days it strikes me. I look at what we’re doing, breaking a divide for millennia unknown.

Right now, loved ones are contacting the dead. They’re talking to those dead for years and the dead are speaking.

Whether through ITC, induction probes and spirit boxes, whether conversation about the work or their family, whether an hour or three seconds, a whisper, a murmur in dark corridors and basements or through a cutting-edge device, we’re listening.

They say, “It’s beautiful here.” I hear it more and more. Or they’re trapped in a loop of the scene of their deaths, hospitals as they were in the nineteen seventies, revolutionary war forts.

Like a reaffirmation, that difference between the bang you question and the apparition, the sound of footsteps above your head that cannot be anything but a human being, a human being not there, not in our space, not that we can see.

“The mystical experience is often ineffable,” the professor lectures. “We try to describe in words what we cannot. An inherent paradox. The mystic experiences a new life-changing perspective on the universe. We throw out questions of sanity, we study the experience itself, common elements, what the experience implies and…” And the professor lectures. And we brainstorm. And we study the logical and the sensical. And we write our arguments. And we publish.

And in the darkness, we meet with them and we ask what it is like and they say, “Like nothing we thought.”

Or a sigh, words unclear, a rise and a fall, a syllable, a break,

a breath

It doesn’t matter how deep the conversation. How insightful. There’s a veil. And it’s torn.

And every one of us that pushes from our side is a part of it.

And some days that just strikes me.

 

My inspiration tonight was again the work of Andy Coppock and Michelle brown,
this time through the blog of April Slaughter,
http://aprilslaughter.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/its-not-what-we-thought/

That Bastion of Calm –

So I’m finally home after two weeks on the road – half of which I feel like was getting back from England.


I can’t speak much about the details of working with GHI, you guys will just have to wait until round about June to catch it on the tv, and keep your eyes peeled for some little tidbits between now and then over at syfy.com. But what I can say was that it was truly a brilliant experience. The case was fantastic, the team was fantastic, the crew was fantastic, England was fantastic – the whole thing.

The entire experience has been a humbling one. I like to believe there’s Reasons for everything, and from day one when I sent in my email and picture and heard back with a request for a video, the process went out of my hands and beyond me. Out of some six thousand applicants during that first round, I was so lucky to have been picked. To have made it through the process to finally get the go-ahead phone call was a near-spiritual experience. Never moreso in my life have I so fully given myself up to exactly where I was supposed to go –

And now on the road, I’m doing my best to be aware of the why. Why me? Why here? Why now? Why has my life been propelled in this extreme direction? I’ve met some truly amazing people on the road, some of the finest people I’ve known. Some of which I’ve connected with on a deep, reverberating level that I don’t understand. Be they just very like souls or be there something deeper, something that speaks to past-lives, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your individual spiritual sensibilities. But something’s happening here. And not only was it interesting to watch and pay attention specifically to, but to embrace experience and new friends as fully as I could. Realization or not, that alone elevated the experience to something magical.

Getting home was not such a magical experience. When I wasn’t exhausted and longing for a bed, I surprised myself by staying in a decent mood. Anticipating the six to seven hour flight from England, I stayed up all night before (no difficult task, a last night in town, goodbyes to new friends and conversation until the dawn, I was scrambling to shower and pack by the time I hit the lobby to catch my ride). Three hour car ride and Heathrow like an ant colony, I managed to catch the flight just fine and we got off in time.

New York was experiencing wet weather. Thick clouds, strong wind, and heavy rain made the approach miserable. I felt like Jack Ryan trying to catch the USS Dallas. Next time I shoulda just sent a freakin’ memo. As soon as we broke into our descent the plane started hopping and rocking. One dip lasted about twice as long as expected and elicited some yelps from the passengers. Sitting in the furthest back row I knew we were in for it when the attendant grabbed the sides of his seat and said, “This is going to be a rough one.”

But I managed to smile through it. Perhaps some blend of sleepiness and a touch of Irish music a few tracks before, and I enjoyed the bumps, taking confidence that that day would not be my day, and if it was, well, that’d have been random.

Upon passing customs and immigration at JFK, my duffel in hand, I went to check in for my connecting to catch the suggestion that it was cancelled, only to wind up at a closed terminal, crossing the street in gusting wind that had me pressing down on my cap and bent 45 degrees. If that wasn’t enough indication, I hit terminal two, stood in line for thirty minutes, and got final confirmation that indeed my trip to Denver was cancelled, no, I said, I had no one to stay with in the New York area, and the soonest flight was Monday – nope, actually, Sunday has a connecting through Minneapolis. Book it, I said, and wandered into the grimy terminal to curl up on my bag and get some rest. Around eleven I stood in a much shorter line, made sure to smile and ask if the workers were rested and doing okay (they weren’t on both counts, but I made an effort to be easy and sympathetic – I thought I hated bitchy customers at a movie rental store, I could never do their job), got the okay and wandered through security to sleep at a gate. Woke up to bustling crowds and airport food too expensive for my hunger.

I finished the Sweedish novel Let the Right One In (a wonderful and brilliant novel. Everything I wanted it to be, and better than the film – which is fantastic in and of itself – it truly does the work of real horror literature, studying childhood, love, coming of age, playing with themes of light before a deep, rich darkness. I highly recommend it).

Twenty minutes before the flight I found I was at Gate 20, not B20, and ran for the shuttle to terminal 4, only to discover Delta had botched the seating assignments and had people just sit wherever. They wouldn’t check my bag and I had to stow it, the whole while waiting for a petite and perky woman with sticks in her hair to ask me to check it from my kung fu grip. Another half hour waiting on the tarmac, we finally hit the sky. Minneapolis was quiet and pleasant after the bustle of JFK, and after only two hours took off for a remarkably bump-less flight into Denver, where it was snowing thick flakes. But the landing was smooth (I recommend snowstorms to rainstorms tenfold). I managed to collect my bag at the claim (which I fully expected to be lost, considering all else that had happened, as the icing on the cake), spun through the doors and caught my lovely girlfriend, and we drove off into the snowy night.

A hottub and a full night’s rest on an actual bed again, and I’m human once again!

Edit to add: I should mention I flew Virgin Atlantic from England. They have a very pleasant way about them that I can’t complain about. The entrance was just bumpy as hell due to the weather. They were fine. It was as soon as I hit Delta for the connecting that I ran into my little problems…

Is there advice here? Yes, I think so. No, it’s not to avoid Delta at all costs (just rainstorms). Even if you’ve spent forty eight hours traveling home, it makes for a good story and odds are your fit at the people trying to rebook and reorganize is just one of thirty, and you’ll likely feel better to take it slow and be polite. Maybe I’m odd, but I like spreading a little peace and being the calm guy while around me the world spins in chaos.

Also, go with where you feel like you should be. Pay attention to what life has for you. It’s fun and enriching, and I can guarantee, no matter how rich and colorful already, will make the world around you even more so, perhaps adding even a touch of sparkle, like that sunlight on fresh snow as it melts on a spring Monday morning.