Monday, October 12, 2009

The Borings But Necessaries

Greetings, o faithful reader!

These days, I've found and you've no doubt conjectured, there is a surplus of articles, websites, columns, experts, theories, prognosticators, soothsayers, societies, brotherhoods, sisterhoods, telecasts, webcasts, podcasts, plaster-casts and other such molds designed to squeeze every last drop of all-too proverbial lifeblood from the re-emerging (reincarnated?) industry of the paranormal. We've all seen it, read it, scoffed it. Especially me. I'm a paranormal investigator, ostensibly, though tacitly retired from the actual dirty drudgery of clambering through crawlspaces with a thermometer and a recorder and subsequently wondering if the creaking I recorded was the spectre of Elvis or just the cat. I started investigating back when investigating wasn't cliche; I retired long before retirement took the same route.

In the face of the surplus, though, I offer for your mulling a dearth: What the hell does paranormal activity have to do with "normal" activity?

So let's be realistic as I offer what amounts to a bald-faced plea that this not be the last of my articles that you read. The first article is rarely compelling. It requires one to describe oneself, to accredit oneself, to grab you, o faithful, by the epaulets and shake you just vigorously enough that you remain, but not so vigorously that you actually enjoy doing so. In short, let me get the business of introductions and intents out of the way right now, so that in the future I never disappoint, and you never languish in absence.

My name, as it bears relevance to the PRSC, is Beefcake, and in 2007 I helped Lisa Lauderdale found the Paranormal Research Society of Casper (Wyoming for you non-locals). As friends we had shared an interest in the paranormal, and, as it happens, living well; our interest in the former developed into Wyoming's leading paranormal research organization. In addition to our extensive repertiore of private investigations, we have also enjoyed the attention of local charitable organizations, provided our services at the invitation of museums and statewide publications, and given numerous speaking engagements for groups in excess of 600 as well as print and televised media. Our methods are scientific and research oriented; we do not employ psychics or sensitives in qualifying any findings as evidence; we perform no seances and flip no cards. Our members come from a variety of professional, personal and religious backgrounds, and harbor beliefs in the paranormal ranging from the irritating and eager to the stubborn and skeptical. We are not sponsored by any television networks and, as a result, we are often sick because we cannot afford to purchase starter jackets with our logo on them.

Boring so far? I thought so. But do continue, the boring is almost though.

I spent a few years as an investigator, and helped Lisa and her staff to develop alot of the practices they currently employ in their research. My fascination with the supernatural drove me for those years, pushed me forward in the search for evidence of something more. But, to be frank, investigating can be BORING! Even more boring than this article!! The fun for me, I think, was never so much the investigation. It was the possibility. The endless hours of listening to EVPs and reviewing video footage are hours I will never get back, but the ensuing hours of speculation were priceless.

I think, now, this was the conclusion that led me to my real investigation, and that was when I put down the emf detector and started typing.

And I think the boring is over.

If I were a historian I might be able to tell you exactly when the first cave drawing depicting fanciful beasts were created. I might be able to pinpoint the first religion that speculated about an afterlife. I do know that mankind first began to bury their dead in Africa slightly less then ten thousand years ago, and that cremation was first practiced in Europe more than six thousand years ago. For reasons that may forever remain unknown, we attached an indelible significance to the passing of one of us, a significance that drove us to impractical extremes that wasted valuable energy and resources for little tangible gain. We defied logic, in those early days, to nod with admiration and horror at the phenomenon of death and our utter refusal to believe in it. Long before we invented the disposable razor-- certainly an evolutionary period in which the invention of the disposable razor would have done much to increase our sex appeal as a species-- we had already either invented or realized the profundity of death and, in so doing, determined that our descendants would forever speculate on it.

It may or may not matter if there is something after this. As a paranormal investigator (emeritus), I have experienced enough to not believe, but know that there is, but that is not my investigation, or my point here. We have lived much as we are now for ten thousand years, and for ten thousand years, death as a stalking tramp has haunted us. Nonetheless, we have lived, and in living, we can do no better than to learn how those whp have lived before can help us to live well now.

Lisa and I, as friends, share an interest in the paranormal and in living well. And while she investigates the paranormal, I choose instead to investigate how the paranormal can teach me to live well. It bears no relevance to any of us whether or not ghosts exist; what we really want to do is speculate. What are they here for? What can they tell us? Will that be me some day?

I don't know. I don't know. And maybe.

But keep reading. Because my investigation, as you'll see in this column, is to find out. What all the tv specials and psychics and soothsayers never seem to touch upon is the relationship between the dead and the living.