| When I was young I had a friend who was very much drawn to the idea of the paranormal. She was a lovely person and generally a serious personality, but she spent a great deal of time and energy looking for evidence of all things supernatural, a quest that often left her with a degree of frustration that was unfortunate. Her name was Barbara, and Barbara was a font of knowledge on everything from ghostly manifestations to the supposed power of crystals. If you wanted to know something about what was going on in the world of paranormal phenomenon, she was your source.
It has been my experience that people often become very emotional about these kinds of subjects and being a person possessed of a skeptical mind, I tend to be wary of any conclusions drawn in the heat of human emotion. Despite this, I loved Barbara and she loved me and I was always willing to listen to any new discoveries and subjects that she had latched on to as a good friend should. This was before the days of access to the Internet, when people had to actually spend a substantial amount of time researching things like this, and Barbara did, a fact that deserved respect whether I accepted the truth of any of it or not.
On one occasion Barbara asked me to accompany her to visit a woman who called herself a, “psychic counselor”. I had no idea whatsoever what a psychic counselor did or was supposed to do but it was something Barbara wanted me to do that seemed important to her so I was willing to accompany her in the role of supportive friend. If she was willing to pay this woman for the privilege of being psychically counseled who was I to object? I did, however, make it clear to her from the outset that I felt no desire to be counseled, psychically or otherwise, and that I was not going to pay anyone to do it. She agreed and off we went.
In the back of my mind I must have had the image of going to some basement shop with a lot of beaded curtains and a woman dressed up like a gypsy and wearing a turban so you can imagine my surprise when we drove to a suburban neighborhood and got out in front of a split level house with a nice garden and a neatly trimmed lawn. My imagination was obviously far more theatrical than the reality of whatever psychic Sigmund Freud lived in this neighborhood. When we knocked at the door it was opened by a tiny little woman who could have been anywhere between 60 and 6000 with beautiful white hair coiled on top of her head and watery blue eyes. I thought it might be possible that this was the psychic's mother or grandmother but no, it was the lady herself. She welcomed us warmly and led us into a living room with lace curtains and a full tea set on a beautifully polished coffee table. The psychic lady was a terrific housekeeper. As she poured tea she explained what she did and how she did it. It was pretty simple, really. She would psychically link to the next life where anyone who might want to contact Barbara and give her some valuable advice could do so. There was no guarantee that anyone Barbara really wanted to hear from would show up or that anyone who did show up would be willing to answer any direct questions. That seemed fair. When we send out a general distress call we have to expect that what we are going to get is will be whoever shows up and the best we can hope for is that they have some idea what they are doing.
The little lady sat back in her wing-back chair and closed her eyes. Nothing happened for a long while. She just say there looking lovely and serene. Then her brow furrowed and a small frown appeared on her face. She looked rather distressed so Barbara asked her what was wrong.
“Those who wish to speak with you cannot get through,” said the little psychic. Barbara, looking somewhat alarmed, asked why not.
“There are too many people who want to speak with your friend,” said the little lady with a noticeable tone of disgust.
Barbara looked at me accusingly.
“It's not my fault!” I declared. “I don't know any dead people and I certainly didn't invite any of them to drop in during your psychic counseling! Tell them to go away! I'm not talking to anybody!”
In the end we left after Barbara made another appointment to be counseled with me not anywhere in the vicinity and I received a lecture from the little psychic about opening my mind and allowing the apparent hordes of dead people standing in line and taking numbers to bring me messages from the great beyond. I told her politely that I just didn't feel up to receiving callers at that time but if I ever wanted to entertain a group of dead strangers I would be sure to give her a call.
In the end poor Barbara couldn't help but be a little miffed that she had devoted so much time and energy to the paranormal and I seemed to have it fall in my lap with very little belief or effort on my part. What could I say? If I go to sleep one night not believing in elves and I wake up in the morning with all my shoes fixed that isn't my fault either.