I wonder sometimes if I have a connection to the spirit realm that my brain just doesn't want to recognize. I neither sense nor see things, but I have had experiences that suggest the spirit realm might be trying to find a way in.
First of all, I not only grew up in a haunted house, I was conceived in one (that story is posted at yourghoststories.com). Even so, I had very few experiences in that house--less than anyone else in my family. Nor have I ever (then or now) felt "in tune" with spirits... Although in that house I heard their knocking and clattering sounds. I also felt as though I was being watched. As a very young child I believed it was my favorite TV characters watching me. As I grew older, I just chalked it up to my imagination. That feeling never frightened me.
The basement did frighten me, but I wonder if that had more to do with following my family's lead than any real sense of foreboding. In fact, one night when I was 10 I got permission to sleep down there entirely on my own, in the family/TV room. I don't know why I wanted to do it, but I did it. Later, at 14, I moved down there to finally get my own room. To this day my oldest sister can't fathom how I'd been brave enough to do that.
As an adult, I still have an active imagination, and I still lack any direct sense of the spirit realm. I've had a small handful of paranormal experiences (such as a haunted camera at a haunted castle in England, and a visit from a shadow man in Mexico), but they're the exception rather than the rule. I've had, however, two experiences I can't link to ghostly encounters. First, around the age of 20, four numbers popped into my head one day. They were so vivid I almost stopped to buy a lottery ticket. But I'd been a struggling college student at the time, and I needed every dollar. Lo and behold, those numbers were drawn that night, and I kicked myself for being frugal.
The second experience was far more...disturbing. More than two decades later, it seems I might have sensed the presence of a body - yes, I do mean a corpse - on my commute to work, although I truly thought at the time it was just my writer's mind trying to conjure a story.
Yes, I am a writer - not by profession, but by character and personality. Writing is as integral to who I am as breathing. It keeps me sane. I process life experiences into stories or poems, or I see things that trigger ideas for one or the other.
[The Exit Ramp "Calling"]
A few years ago, taking my usual route home from work, I had a "what if?" moment when I reached the exit ramp - a common experience during which my writer's brain considers story ideas. This particular "what if?" addressed the idea of a body being hidden somewhere in the tall grasses and cattails in the center of the circular ramp. I tried to conjure ideas about who might have put it there and why... But quickly dismissed the concept as a valid story idea because no murderer would dump a body in that location. It's too public, and although the body could be hidden by the marshy vegetation, the murderer would not be hidden. There are no trees. This "what if?" was, simply, a bad idea for fiction.
Yet day after day I drove by with the same thought, as though it was needling the back of my brain. Finally, months later, I found the exit blocked by police cars and a very large "mobile command unit." The next day I found out why: a worker cutting the vegetation found skeletal remains right where I'd imagined a body might be hidden. After two weeks we learned they were the remains of a man who'd gone missing the previous winter, after having abandoned his broken down car on the freeway during a snow storm. He'd collapsed, been covered by snow, and... Lay there until the worker found him.
Had the universe been trying to tell me he was there? Could it have been his ghost trying to get noticed? Or was it merely coincidence, a result of my active, writer's imagination?
I'm always conjuring story ideas. When I'm in the middle of a story, I let the characters tell me (not with audible voices) what needs to happen next. This isn't unusual. I joke about it with fellow writers all the time. Writers and artists - even inventors - have claimed through the ages that their creativity is due to muses. I have to agree. It's as though I'm being guided to write certain things in certain ways. But what are "muses"? Are they just parts of the brain that not everyone touches? Or are they something else? And what - or who - are my muses?
Sometimes I wonder if my muses are linked in some way to that haunted, childhood home. Other times I wonder if they're linked to Ernest Hemingway. I know, I know; go ahead and roll your eyes. Truly, I don't claim to "be" him reincarnated... Despite the timing of my birth - I was born on his birthday and in his death-year, not quite two weeks before his birthday that year. I'm not even a fan of his writing. But I wonder if somehow I share some of his muses, simply because of the date of my birth... Although I'm sure I'm being foolish to think so.
Sometimes, when my mind is particularly cluttered, I pull my thoughts back under control with a sort of meditation-like exercise that I call "blank page writing." Actually, the exercise both results from corralling my thoughts and it does the corralling... Sort of a circle of activity that's like the chicken or egg analogy. Which comes first? I have no idea.
I usually start my blank-page-writing by putting on calming music - my preferences being Mozart or Native American music, particularly recordings by Steve and David Gordon. Then I put pen to blank paper - or point the cursor at a "new" document on the computer screen. Next I find a word, a phrase or a sentence in my head, and I let the words flow as they will from there. Sometimes the word or phrase actually kicks off a round of blank-page writing, without need of calming music or any sort of mental preparation. By the time I'm finished, I might have done a lot of deleting or crossing out before a finished work comes to light, or the end result might have flown from my brain to the paper/screen complete and untouched (the latter is actually more common than the former). However it arrives, a finished work always results... And I can't begin to express how shocked I've been at some of those results. I'll stare at the words amazed to think they'd come from me.
I don't hear voices, mind you. I just..."feel" words.
I believe every human being has the ability to connect with the universe, the spirit realm, or whatever you might call it; but very few can actually bridge the gap between ability and reality. Some seem to make the connection effortlessly - perhaps because the universe demands it. Is the universe trying to make demands of me, but I push back without even realizing it, refusing to allow the connection to happen?
In some ways I want to sense that connection - in other ways I suppose I fear it.
Sometimes I've felt particularly blessed. I had three brushes with death - or at least traumatic injury - between the ages of 13 and 19. The most miraculous one involved a ruptured appendix that was not surgically treated until 7 to 10 days after the rupture, yet none of the toxins reached my bloodstream. I was told a wall of fat had contained the toxins, although I'd been little more than skin and bones at the time. There were other blessings, too. I went to college because I won a scholarship seemingly "out of the blue" (I didn't even know it existed until it was offered to me). I fell into a career I'd never considered. I've had opportunities to see parts of the world I'd never thought to see. Now, in the second half of my life, I seem to have used up all my blessings, almost as though blessings have turned to curses (ushered in, ironically, by the appearance of a shadow man [that story was submitted to yourghoststories.com]).
I'm not sure I know what I'm asking for here. Some...validation, perhaps that I have a link even if I can't seem to sense it? Perhaps advice on how to become more in tune with whatever periodically seems to reach out to me? Maybe I'm asking if who I am now has something to do with that childhood house having been haunted? I suppose I don't have a specific question; but I would appreciate comments or suggestions, particularly from people here who know a whole lot more about psychic phenomena than I.