NOTE: My statements are not necessarily my opinions. I often post point-counterpoint essays in which I strongly take one side of an issue and later counter that with antithetical views. This intellectual exercise helps me see the merit in opposing opinions and augments my creativity.

Finally some proof of life after death?

For most of my life, I thought the notion of life after death was hogwash. I believed in what I could see and scientific facts and evidence. Seeing no evidence of a hereafter, I dismissed talk of it as less realistic than Disney movies.

My opinion began to change when my Dad was murdered. The murder didn't cause me to question whether I was wrong, it was the fact that I'd had a recent nightmare in which I KNEW he would be killed. That woke me up in the middle of the day (the middle of my sleeping period, since I worked the ER night shift at that time) sweating and shaking uncontrollably.

The last time I did that was never. I've been alone with sadistic killers in the ER and a world-champion kick boxer who said he might kill me when I looked into his eyes with an ophthalmoscope (and hence was defenseless); they didn't faze me: concerned, yes; shaking, not even close.

At age 8 or 9, I was repeatedly shot by a racist who didn't like the way I looked. I'm part black, part Native American, part English, Spanish, French, German, Irish and Italian—the latter two are where the Kevin and Pezzi came from. He shot me with just a BB gun, which hurt like hell, but I wasn't afraid, though I should have been—could have lost an eye!

I've been almost killed many times, usually while using my chainsaw. Sweat? Shake? Heck no!

I've been feet away from a hungry grizzly bear in Glacier National Park when I was a kid. Frightened? You bet, but no shaking. I'm just not one to shake.

spot a typo?
If so, please tell me about it.

Scientists hoping to explain away everything that doesn't fit their view of the world might try to excuse the proximity of my dream to my father's death as just a coincidence, but at that time, I'd not seen him in over a quarter century and, frankly, I rarely thought about him and can't recall ever dreaming of him. In life anyway, my father simply wasn't someone to get excited about. He was fond of breasts and guns and not much else except booze, so he wasn't very fond of me, inspiring an apathetic indifference that made forgetting about him easy.

We often send suspected criminals to the electric chair or give them a life sentence based on nothing but circumstantial evidence (that is, mere associations), which we deem to be “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If that is sufficient proof in a criminal justice system in which we say it is better to let 100 guilty people go free than convict one innocent one, then when enough really weird stuff starts happening, haughtily dismissing it as coincidence is something only a birdbrain would do.

I rarely thought about my Dad, never before dreamed of him, and now I'm sweating and shaking like a leaf? And at a time close to his murder? A murder I never even imagined was possible? (Who thinks about a parent being murdered before it happens?) And years after I assumed he was probably dead, having pickled his liver with an ocean of booze? And it's all just a frigging coincidence?

Does. Not. Compute. Not in my mind, anyway, yet even I wasn't convinced of a hereafter or anything intangible; I was just open to the possibility that my prior beliefs might be wrong. I needed more proof.

I waited a long time to get it. Flash-forward another 18 years and I'm awake in bed in the middle of the night. A water pipe had burst in my attic two months beforehand, which proved to be less stressful than hiring a water damage remediation contractor whose greatest proficiency was giving me nightmares, not sound sleep. Hence the lack of sleep.

Flat on my back, with my mind pondering my latest invention, I felt my girlfriend get into bed close to me, with her weight causing my left shoulder to dip down. As soon as I felt that, I rocketed my left arm to her side, to feel who was in bed with me: my girlfriend had left about six hours before.

Nothing—no one was there; at least nothing I could feel. With the room totally dark, I jumped out of bed so quickly my neck snapped (after breaking it four years ago, it's still unstable) as I lunged for my .44 Magnum and left to search my home. Nobody but me.

I returned to bed, same position, and went back to inventing. Twice more I felt someone get in bed, creating sensations identical to those experienced when someone actually does that, but now the motions were further away (in the usual spot in my king-sized bed, not immediately next to me), yet utterly unmistakable and unlike anything I'd ever felt unless someone truly was getting into bed with me.

Scientists would say it's … what? It wasn't a dream; I was wide awake. It wasn't a fluke; it happened three times in less than an hour. So what was it?

I don't know, but it was sufficiently real to convince me that the concrete here and now stuff isn't all there is.

We can't see, smell, touch, taste, or hear radio waves, but they obviously exist. They were present billions of years before we discovered them and found ways to detect them with technology that once seemed unimaginable and pure fantasy. Might there be other facets to reality we're still blind to? Probably. Scientists in every age pat themselves on their backs for their supposed sophistication and knowledge only to seem like naive children to future generations who know much more. Generations from now, scientists and others will look back at today's scientists and marvel at how little they knew.

I left out part of the story. After my girlfriend's mother died about 15 months ago, I've seen and heard things in my house I've never before witnessed, such as the unmistakable sound of a frying pan sliding across my glass cooktop. Those dozen or so unexplained events were odd because none of them were from the usual household sources, and I had no emotional connection to my girlfriend's Mom; I'd met her once briefly for lunch. Those events had tapered off months prior, and now this?

Pondering this made me realize how I'd previously known things before I could plausibly know them. For example, I was in the freeway left lane returning home after a day in medical school when I suddenly KNEW the 18-wheeler in the far right lane was about to dart toward me, even though there was no reason for him to change lanes. Sure enough, he did a second or two later, violently as if he wanted to kill me. Had I not braked, he would have crushed my small car like a bug against the concrete median barrier.

I've been around—what?—hundreds of thousands of drivers? Millions? And a truck with no reason to change lanes is the one I forecast would shoot toward me? Then he did just after that? And it's all just a coincidence?

Bull.

The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reference: Imagining dialogue can boost critical thinking: Excerpt: “Examining an issue as a debate or dialogue between two sides helps people apply deeper, more sophisticated reasoning …”

Comments (1)

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Comment #353 by Marc Boucher
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May 25 2015 04:38:01 PM

The above are some pretty interesting stories to say the least. I needed to hear just that from someone who's as trustworthy as you are.

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