That is, they are vital questions for me. They do not seem, at first glance, related; and perhaps they are not, or perhaps there will be some overriding theme that emerges from my thoughts. I can’t know this until I dive into the issues that are weighing on my mind on this, almost the last day of June 2011.
Question #1: Is the fear of death actually about death, or the fear of suffering and aging?
I had some scary health issues this last month that required testing. Anytime one must undergo “further testing,” there is an undeniable element of anxiety. Even though everything turned out to be normal in the end, it left me with this lingering feeling, a certainty rather, that I had escaped the clutches of my mortality this time, but that I had only won the battle but am destined to lose the war. Nothing earth shattering here, my dear readers; the knowledge that life must end is still overwhelming to me. In the waiting room I was surrounded with very sick and very old people. I immediately realized that all we do is postpone and ignore the inevitable: how to live with that? One day at a time, I suppose. Life after death still means you have to get old (if you’re lucky) and die. Then, what happens after that is less frightening than that transition.
Transitions have always been hard for me. Graduations and weddings, births and divorces, everything and anything that begins and ends, is difficult for me. When everyone else was throwing their hats in the air at both high school and college graduation, I was in shock and dealing with profound sadness. The end of high school, I remember, was something unimaginable. We all headed to the beach to drink Vodka and Coke, skinny dip and roast marshmallows, but it seemed as if that ritual were already over, and we were holding our own funeral, the Last Rites of high school. When college ended, I felt as if I had already left, since I spent the better part of Junior and Senior year in Spain engaged in a complicated and overly-dramatic relationship.
I can’t even begin to describe the end of relationships. It’s too painful even now. I will say, however, that every boyfriend seemed to have abandoned me long before he actually did. Every relationship seemed doomed to end from the start, and I lived with that sense of awfulness that clung to me like a cloud, turning this intelligent, pretty, happy woman into a shadow filled with insecurities and fears. The Spanish boyfriend was particularly traumatic, since every time I saw him, I was weighed down by Time, or the lack of it. I counted the days that we had left and then counted the days until I could see him again, but all the while I could only feel the coming rupture, the definitive break that would feel like death. I suppose it was a death, since I had to endure a transition and come back to a life that would be forever different.
The most traumatic death was divorce. To this day, I cannot write about it or think about it without feeling a sense of total loss and devastation. I think back to what it was like to survive from day to day without the person who had pledged his life and love to me, only to simply change his mind. The demise of my marriage was the worst heartbreak I have ever endured; although I know that I will face other profound losses in my life, there has been nothing to compare to the emptiness, confusion, and disintegration of my life that his disappearance created, a sort of existential black hole that sucked up my identity and self worth.
It isn’t, then, the actually “death” that created such terror; it was waiting for the inevitable to happen. Life is constantly mutating and transforming, and for that process to carry itself out, loss must be endured and understood. It’s interesting to consider that once the actual transition has taken place, it’s much easier to bear one’s life; you have to move forward, and so you do. Waiting and worrying create the anxiety, not the actual event. Knowing that my ex was going to move out and start a life without me was worse than standing around a semi-empty house, because even though the pain was searing, there was also the sense that I was about to begin again. The graduations led to new opportunities for growth and creation; births lead to lives unfolding; even death leads to another life unfolding.
Conclusion: I fear transitions; therefore, it’s not death per se, but enduring illness and pain. I am not ill and not in significant pain, so I suppose this is just another instance of waiting and worrying. I suppose it’s a useless activity, and so I need to let it go.
Question #2: What do we do with an impressive collection of EVPs, and why does nobody care?
The Paranormal Housewives (if you don’t know about us, you really should–go straight to paranormalhousewives.com after you read this post) have collected some of the most amazing EVPs that anyone could hope to hear. I’m talking SENTENCES, growls and voices that put the “evidence” collected on paranormal TV shows to shame. When you investigate a client’s house and a little girl says “it’s lonely out here,” and there is NO little girl anywhere in the vicinity, well . . . that’s unbelievable. Ah, perhaps that’s the problem. Maybe no one really believes it, thinking that there is some “natural” explanation, or that the PHW are somehow inventing this for public consumption. That, of course, could not be further from the truth. These are real voices picked up where there should be no voices, and when they are responding to us, the feeling is one of awe and amazement; and yet, so few of us are actually amazed. This is an eternal mystery to me. How could anyone fail to feel overwhelmed by this? I suppose that people break down into three camps on the issue: the skeptics, the true believers, and those who don’t care. I understand the first two, but the third camp? Perhaps it is competition: my EVPs are better than yours. Perhaps it is a certain inability to care about anything that doesn’t directly pertain to them and their lives at the moment. Could it be a simple lack of curiosity?
If I tend to wait and worry, then I imagine that there are people who do the opposite: they exist in the eternal present and think only about their most pressing needs and desires at the moment. I must confess, I envy that state of being, yet it comes with a price: a lack of interest or wonderment about the universe and its mysteries.
Question #3: Why do the voices in our EVPs sound slightly robotic, distorted, or coming through some medium? Also, why do so many of them sound like the same person?
I could swear that the same little girl has followed us from Camarillo to Linda Vista to our houses; you could say the same thing about an old man who gruffs and grumbles in various locales. In a conversation with parawife Marsha, she believes that there is a limited repertoire of voices for spirits (or whatever the heck they are) to use in order to communicate. I know that the “voice box” issue was certainly real for mediums conducting séances, since supposedly they had to be created from ectoplasm for the spirits to speak. I don’t know what I think about all that, but if spirits need a medium to communicate (the substrate, not the person) then it makes sense that they can’t finely tune their voices to sound like a wide variety of humans. The ether, ectoplasm, radio waves, static interference or other types of waves, media or resonances appear to be necessary for communication. I prefer that interpretation over others; namely, that we are contacting demons who can imitate human voices only imperfectly, or the notion that we are carrying around the same people from place to place. Are they attached to their location, or to us?? I don’t have much interest in pondering that possibility, since it only leads to more stress and speculation.
As far as robotic voices, I wonder if that is simply a function of which medium they must use to communicate. Waves of any kind distort sound. The other thought is that we are contacting super intelligent robot aliens from outer space. Sigh . . . the more I investigate, the less I understand.
That brings me to the end of the Three Questions. Usually, I try to find a unifying message to my ponderings, but tonight I’m not so sure that there is one. Perhaps there are some lessons for me, though. Waiting and worrying are utterly useless activities, and must be discarded; you can’t make people care about your passions if they don’t share them; voices from beyond the grave sound funny because ghosts don’t have a voice box or anything else fleshy with which to communicate; and finally, I refuse to give demons or attachments the time of day or night.
Thank you for sharing the last few minutes with me. I feel better now that these questions are off my mind and into yours; that is, if you care. I hope you do.
Left: Me, posing.
—Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D/PHW