Death and afterlife are one of the common unsolved mysteries of human reality. In popular media, ghosts and aberrations are regular protagonists or antagonists, giving credence to their existence and acceptance in popular culture. But can they really be seen?
Tales of ghost sightings are a plenty. There are whole commercial industries devoted to the pursuit. Skeptics continually question their operation, but some say undiscovered portions of the human brain do give people a sixth sense to see into a different plane. Or do we see what we want to see?
I’ve longed been intrigued by ghost sightings to the point of regular tours in historic areas that promise the possibility of witnessing a specter. Mostly they are historic tours full of fanciful tales of intrigue, murder, heartbreak and woe from a long gone time. Based on the storytelling prowess of the guide, they are often quality entertainment.
Visiting some of the most reportedly haunted areas in the country, each time I open myself to the possibility and garner the hope of actually seeing a ghost. Tour guides always point out where past guests have unknowingly photographed or actually reported seeing a ghost. This is usually followed by banter of one or two fellow tourists regaling the group with their proud personal accounts of spirit detection. But did they? Or was it a matter of boasting, wishful thinking and booze. Some areas do allow open liquor on the tours. This can make you more susceptible to many things.
In Gettysburg, there was the tale of the nightly light spotted in a nearby school dormitory that was used as a make-shift hospital during the Civil War.
New Orleans offered many opportunities of all manner of ghouls, as many believe the French Quarter is laden with magical aprons of mystic energy from voodoo practitioners past and present. I’ve been on that tour twice hearing new stories and visiting new haunts each time.
A small pre-revolutionary hotel in tiny Williamsburg promised aberrations with tales of heartbreak, scandal and murder by several former scorned occupants.
And even in my adopted home of Ft. Myers, a longstanding school and courthouse tell of the mean headmistress and affable judge who just never left their prior occupations and can be seen working overtime still into their afterlife.
The anticipation always added to the adrenaline rush of the exciting opportunity and likely the appeal of these tours, but unfortunately, I’ve never seen anything supernatural. So, while I leave each tour informed and thoroughly entertained; I am often slightly disappointed and left wondering why.
Is it that I want to see something no one else does? Or that I have an insatiable need to solve a mystery. Since I do write whodunit novels and plays, that could be part of the issue. But I also think it’s part of a bigger picture with most people. If ghosts do exist, does that mean there is life after death? Can you linger past your expiration date? A comforting feeling for some, a nightmare for others.
As for me, the biased part will continue to believe in the possibility that benevolent or even somewhat mischievous spirits roam this plane, one foot in and one foot out, to resolve some leftover business from their past lives. But the realist in me would like to see some empirical evidence, just once. My mind is open; my drink is full and I will continue to search for educational and amusement purposes. I am ready to be proven right.
(c) 2022 Suzanne Rudd Hamilton