by Ted Currie
It might be said of contemporary fast-paced, no time for contemplation times, and the technologies we’ve created to make life ambitions more efficient, that our human senses, as a result, aren’t what they used to be in the days of yore.
Watching the youngsters travel up our short boulevard each morning, to catch the school bus, is in my opinion, an unfortunate case in point. They’re really not paying attention to the environment in which they dwell.
A majority of the students, even those in public school, can be seen with their cell phones out, reading and texting as they saunter, with no particular urgency, up the very picturesque laneway to the intersection where the bus stops.
On the north side of the boulevard is a twenty-plus acre green belt, a forest wreathed wetland, teeming with all the magic of such wild places. Should a moose or deer pop-out of the evergreen veil, and reveal themselves to the audience of young people, I can well imagine that it still wouldn’t be enough to interrupt what ever magic was happening on the screen of their phone. What a show of life they are missing because of technological enhancements that have made communication better, and more efficient, at the expense of the noticing the “actuality” of the real, thriving, ever-changing natural world.
When I headed off to public school in Burlington, each morning, back in the early 1960’s, I was enchanted by all that was going on around me. On foggy mornings it was amazing to listen to the distant fog horns sounded by freighters traversing the lake. I heard bird calls and wanted to know more about the creatures that were flitting about in the tree-tops or tapping on the tall evergreens. I studied the azure sky some days, the storm clouds moving in, on other mornings and afternoons, and was keenly aware of sirens and the sounds of earth movers working in the neighborhood. I paid attention because I was interested in what was going on around me. It was also a safety mechanism of human sensory perception, warning me of impending danger nearby, such as a speeding car or snap of lightning from an approaching thunderstorm. I wonder then, if one of today’s students, who stroll up and down our boulevard here, were to actually find themselves threatened by an irritated moose, visible at the side of the road, would actually notice the agitated beast and flee before being trampled.
What does this have to do with ghosts and, of all things, antiques and collectables? I firmly believe everyone at some point in their lives, have already, or will one day encounter an entity, that could be attributed to the handiwork of the paranormal. I think however, what was rather commonplace in olden times, when and where seeing a ghost, was not all that big a deal, our sensory perception in contemporary times has in a way, let us down as far as recognizing things that, for example, “go bump in the night”. Seeing a ghost is not a religious experience, so there is no pre-qualification in this regard. While it’s true that if a ghost was a mortal, before the transition inspired by one’s demise, it must also be possible that there is a place for spirits on the so called “other side.” Heaven. But even if you’re not a believer in the heaven and hell scenario, it won’t stop you from having a spirited encounter at some time in your life. What you make of it, well, that’s up to you and you alone. Unless you ask someone who believes in the ability of the dearly departed to make contact with the living. We’d tell you quite simply, without bringing up religion, that ghosts have very many reasons to make their presence known. As far as messages from the great beyond, same thing. Just because someone has left this mortal coil, doesn’t mean they’ve finished letting those they’ve left behind, what they think is important for survivors to know.
In this series of columns on the haunted qualities and quantities of antiques and collectables, to be published throughout this year, I want to share some interesting stories about paranormal experiences my wife and I have had, over many decades working in this storied profession, with what we can only determine as being paranormal interventions. We ruled out over-active imaginations a long time ago. We have had enough encounters, all of a friendly nature by the way, to write one if not two books on the subject. This series is exclusive to this publication.
A majority of antique dealers I’ve known over four decades of my involvement in the trade, have admitted to experiencing a few enchanted moments in their buying and selling adventures, most often working on estate acquisitions, where they found themselves alone in residences where there had been a recent death. Keep in mind that as antique dealers we must accept, that in order to get our pieces, death plays an integral role in the cycle of ownership. The sign of spirited approval or disaproval, may have been as simple as a light touch on the shoulder, that would feel as if someone had laid their hand momentarily. A strange perfume in the room or a chill breeze where there is no source to be found. Often they sense being watched by someone or something, or swearing they heard a voice where there was no one else in the vicinity. The most common sensory perception in these situations, is the prevailing negative aura in a particular room, making it uncomfortable to dwell and conduct business. Whether it is a sudden cold that invades the room, or a more threatening atmosphere, that makes one feel it would be better to abandon the cause, than to tempt fate with what might soon become a visible entity.
It may be the case that the deceased, and maybe more than one entity, are not fussy about antique dealers poking around their stuff. Is it possible, that by sticking around for this dispersal activity, they are guarding what they can no longer possess in real terms, simply because they haven’t figured out the death-thing yet and its limitations? Now put yourself in this scenario, as a ghostly entity, looking out over a room full of your favorite worldly possessions, watching as a number of antique buyers sort through chests and boxes, and rock for awhile in a favorite parlor chair. If I found myself in this spirited position, watching someone disassembling my collection, there’s no question I’d be haunting them right out of the room, and out the front door to their waiting vehicles. Ghosts are known to attach themselves to important pieces they cherished in life. In death they just don’t want to let go. As a collector I know this feeling well, and if I had a chance to hang around, in the afterlife, well, I just might.
My feeling is that our sensory perception has been dulled by contemporary living. We aren’t as sharp as we once were, because of our many preoccupations. I suppose a “ghost app” might help out, if we had that option on our phones.
Please join me in coming editions of Curious The Tourist Guide, for a closer look at how the deceased have a way of reclaiming their relics from folks they believe are undeserving.