“Ghost hunting” is an oxymoron, is it not?
Just what is a ghost, anyway? A spirit? A shadow? A memory? A smell? A sound? A laugh? An old photograph? Displaced energy? A lost soul? A figment of our imagination? A longing, a burning desire…? We “hunt ghosts” – and yet, what are we hunting? And what will we do when we catch these ghosts we seek? Bottle them up? Kill them? Keep them as pets or hang them on the mantle as trophies?
Kirsten wrote about the “ghost hunter’s dilemma” and she’s right — any one who ‘hunts ghosts’ is stuck between two worlds. Sometimes I wonder (especially in light of some of our more recent experiences), if confronted with a full-fledged and “evidential” ghost encounter, would I turn from ’skeptical ghost hunter’ to ‘hard core believer’? Or would I simply convince myself that I was losing my mind? Would I know the difference? Would anyone? What evidence could be enough to lead me to conclude, proof positive, that some contact with the other side had been made. Can a skeptic ever truly believe and do hard-core believers ever doubt? And where does the skeptical ghost-hunter fit in? I leave open a window for possibility…and yet, if confronted with a reality that shifts all reality, what would I do?
Something happened to me this weekend, that forced me to think about all these things. This weekend I caught a ghost. And I don’t know what to do with it.
We were investigating the abandoned Linda Vista hospital in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. We were near the morgue and a surgery room. Kirsten was in front of me and Brian behind me. We rounded a corner and came upon a small side room off of the surgery room. We walked up to the door, which was partially ajar, and as Kirsten put her hand on the door to open it, I began to hear a female voice, humming. It was very clear and loud — it sounded right as though it were with us. My first thought was that it was Kirsten, but then…I started to realize that it didn’t seem to be coming from Kirsten, that it didn’t really sound like her – and that it in fact, might not be Kirsten at all.
That’s when my whole sense of reality tilted on it’s side, because, as I was thinking that, Kirsten put her hand on the door of the room, and the door seemed to take on a life of it’s own — it swung wide open with force, hitting the back wall and bouncing back on itself. At the same time, I felt as though something or someone moved right through me. The whole space we occupied seemed to be filled with some form of energy, and I couldn’t understand what was happening except that I knew we had just come in contact with a ghost. And so, I screamed. And yet, I couldn’t believe that’s what had happened, so I yelled out “Don’t do that!” to whichever member of the team was hiding in the room as a prank, humming and yanking on the door in an attempt to scare us. Except that there was no one in that little room. In fact, everyone else was down the hall and all came running.
My audio recorder captured the entire episode, as did Brian’s. You can hear the humming, clear as day. I have listened to the audio over and over, trying to make sense of what I am hearing. Could it be Kirsten humming, even though she was just as shocked by the humming as I, and even though it is clear that the voice in the audio is not hers, and even though you can hear the humming even after we both start yelling? I listened to it in slow motion, over and over again, trying to make sense of it all. The audio recordings and my personal recollection of the incident, along with those of Brian and Kirsten — are the only real evidence I have. The incident was not captured on video or in a photo — but so what if it had been? Would that be any more compelling? Any snippet of video can be broken down frame by frame and negated by one who chooses to do so. And so, I ask, what video would be compelling enough? What photo could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was not staged or a simple trick of the light?
Scientific methods lean on testing and retesting in controlled environments. Results must be re-creatable by others before a hypothesis becomes a truth. Can this ever be possible when ghosts are the subjects? We have collected odd audio clips, strange photos, and been witness to unexplainable events before. But they have always been faint sounds, distant noises, brief glimpses out of corners of eyes…assumptions and suppositions. Nothing concrete, nothing conclusive. So many things have felt real, and yet were mysterious enough as to leave open a window of doubt.
As a skeptical ghost-hunter I know that there has to be a logical, natural explanation for what happened. However, there is a part of me that knows that something happened there unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. No matter how hard I try to explain away the incident, a lingering, nagging voice in my head won’t let me release this ghost. I cannot accept that this clear, loud female humming and the door flinging open could be something supernatural. It must have been a cosmic sequence of events that collided in a split second to cause the illusion that something supernatural was happening to us. Or so I have tried to tell myself…
While we spend our time in various efforts to collect evidence of the existence of the afterlife, here is a case where as much as I would like to, I cannot provide evidence that this is NOT proof of something paranormal – and that leaves me in a quandry.
I have wondered, if confronted with a full-fledged and “evidential” ghost encounter, would I turn from ’skeptical ghost hunter’ to ‘hard core believer’? Or would I simply convince myself that I was losing my mind? Would I know the difference? Would anyone? What evidence could be enough to lead me to conclude, proof positive, that some contact with the other side had been made. Can a skeptic ever truly believe and do hard-core believers ever doubt? And where does the skeptical ghost-hunter fit in? I leave open a window for possibility…and yet, if confronted with a reality that shifts all reality, what would I do?
In addition to the window I’ve left open for possibility, I’ve always kept another one open for doubt. Both must remain open. That is all I know.