by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
It’s easy to get caught up in media hype. The newscasters seem so earnest when they come on and read the latest frightening headlines. Even the most intelligent of people can get caught unaware from time to time.
Case in point. I live in Western Washington. You know the place – we have a reputation for being temperate – and let’s face it – rainy. Such is our reputation for cool summers that a friend from the east coast who has never made it this far west said this:
“I heard that nobody in Washington has air conditioning in their cars.”
I have teased her mercilessly since then.
Anyway – back to my story. Yesterday was an uncharacteristically warm day. It hit about 107 in my small town. While temperatures to that extreme are a rare occurrence here, we do usually have wonderful weather in late July, August and early September. We can count on pleasant, sunny days in the 70s to 90s throughout those months. But 107 – that was hot. Especially when you realize that it isn’t a dry heat. It’s muggy.
By 10, it had cooled down to the mid 90s. I was safely ensconced in my air-conditioned home, however, watching the local nightly news when it happened. The earnest talking hairdo came on and showed record-breaking temperature predictions for today. As a matter of fact, it said that my town was going to be 113 today. I panicked!
Jim and I headed up to the attic to dig out an additional window air conditioning unit, since our heat pump cools well, but not in extremes of temperature. The best it could do yesterday was 78 degrees in the house.
Right now, at 1:36 pm, it is 101 at my house. Could it hit 113? Maybe but highly doubtful at this point. Seems like maybe I bought into media hype. It’s never been 113 here before.
About an hour later, I was in bed reading when Tanner came running into the bedroom yelling that the moon was red. I hopped out of bed and looked. Sure enough – it was a red, red moon. Really red. Blood red.
Rapidly my mind rolled through doomsday predictions. Was there something about a blood red moon? Was there? And then, I started thinking about solar flares. Were we about to be annihilated by a rogue solar flare that was burning up our moon as I slept?
That’s when I realized what easy prey we can be to the media. I knew it before, but I always thought that I was immune. I’m not. Fortunately, I caught myself. I slept well and didn’t wake up surprised that we were still here.
That’s how the media is. We watch movies and television. We read books. As a direct result of this, we always have one foot in and one foot out of reality. Movie, books and television – they are dramatic. And yet, people start to expect that drama to play out in real life, as well. Some even generate drama in their own lives as a result – because that is how they believe life should be. Big and dramatic.
Here’s an example. As I mentioned in another post, we took the kids up to the site of the Wellington avalanche disaster this past weekend for a day hike and to give them a flavor of what a true haunting might feel like. Wellington is a pretty active place. It is the place that has pushed me closer to believing outright in ghosts. It’s even tipped Jim in that direction. There is something going on there.
The kids have only experienced the paranormal through television. They’ve watched shows like Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters and Most Haunted. They’ve seen movies and read books about hauntings. So they are of the impression that haunted places are dramatically active, with people getting slapped and scratched, disembodied voices everywhere and furniture (or bricks) flying through the air.
While there may be a very few places in the world where those types of things could possibly happen, my limited experience in haunted places – even extremely active ones – is that the activity is far more subtle than that. Paranormal investigation is nothing like you see on TV. There’s a lot of time where nothing happens. There’s a lot of time spent carefully evaluating evidence. Often, investigation is done in broad daylight without the added creepiness of darkness. A great deal of time is spent searching for (and finding) logical explanations for things. And a lot of times, activity is extremely subtle. Sometimes it is a feeling. Or the raising of hair on your arms. If you’re very lucky, then you may even hear a disembodied voice.
This is what I wanted the kids to see – that the paranormal isn’t what you see on television. But that it is cool, nonetheless.
Tanner has always had a fascination with ghosts. He’s also had a lot of fear. And yet, he begged us to take him on this day hike/investigation. And so, we did.
We gave the kids equipment to carry around. Recorders and cameras, mostly, although we also gave them a very simple EMF detector. The walked around asking questions and describing sensations they got. At one point, Matthew felt as if someone had pushed him in the back. We heard footsteps. We heard a very faint disembodied laugh. We walked. A lot. The kids felt various sensations in different locations. Dizziness. Nausea. Anxiety. A tightness of the chest. A tightness of the head. Goosebumps. Cold spots.
It was all very subtle. No bricks flew. No one was scratched. We didn’t see a single full-bodied apparition. And yet, the kids had a terrific time. They loved every minute of it.
Later, when we got home, I asked Tanner how he felt about ghosts now that he had actually been to an active location and experienced what it felt like. His response? He is now less afraid of ghosts. The experience was far more subtle than he could have imagined, and yet he feels convinced that there was definitely something going on there.
Away from media influence, the real world awaits. It may not be as dramatic or frightening as we see in movies or on TV. Even reality TV is overblown and dramatic. But real life still has a lot to offer in the way of experience and emotion.
Which brings me back to the red moon. What causes a red moon? Typically, it is caused by particles in the earth’s atmosphere that filter the light, causing the moon to look red. Is that exciting or dramatic? No. But, if you think about that explanation, it is still pretty cool – the properties of light and the properties of the atmosphere. When the natural world has such amazing things that happen – like a moon turning blood red – why on earth do we need to add additional drama? I don’t think we do. The universe in which we live with all of its infinite possibilities is dramatic enough, all by itself.