Tuesday, October 7, 2014

More Musings about Weird Coincidences and Strange Happenings



Has anything like this ever happened to you?

When I was very young, one night I looked out my bedroom window and saw lights dancing in the night.  I was lying on my back at the time on a bed that had been secured with a safety rail, having just graduated from a crib.  This was before my sister was born, which means that I could only have been about two and a half years old.  The lights were flying back and forth in front of my window, as naturally as a fish might swim in an aquarium.  I looked more closely.  Some of the lights had faces.  One of them was quite ugly, like the visage of an old Halloween-style witch or hag.  Even so, I didn’t feel frightened, just enchanted.  But I wanted to tell my mommy about it.  So I crawled out of bed, went into my parents’ bedroom, and climbed into bed with them.  Motioning with my hands, I tried to describe what I had seen.  Mom didn’t understand what I was attempting to say, or even that I was trying to say anything.  Hugging me close, she told me to go to sleep.  I lay staring out the window for some time before finally drifting off.

The next morning at breakfast, I really wanted to tell her what I had witnessed and ask her about it.  My two and a half year old brain did not have the words.  Frustrated, I looked around for something I could use as a comparison.  Out in the back yard stood a swing set and slide.  The morning sun was glinting brightly off the latter’s polished silver surface.  I don’t remember what sounds I made, but I distinctly remember pointing at the slide, and then waving my hands back and forth through the air, trying to get across the idea that the bright spot of reflected sunlight was somewhat like the lights I’d seen moving outside my window the night before. 

She didn’t get it, of course.  And I gave up.  But that memory has stayed with me.

They say that young children are not able to distinguish between a dream and reality.  I buy that.  But still—what kind of dream is so powerful that it can happen at the age of two and a half and then stay with you for life?

I remember this day.  I was 21 months old
You may doubt that anyone can remember anything, much less a dream, from such a young age.  But I have earlier memories, and am able to date at least one of them quite precisely.  I recall distinctly the first time I ever pushed my father’s lawnmower, and that as I did so, my mother snapped a picture of me.  The lawnmower engine was not running, of course.  I had to raise my hands all the way over my head to reach the handles, which I quite clearly recall as being shaped like the handlebar grips of a tricycle, covered at the end with short white plastic sleeves molded to fit the fingers—although not mine, which were too small.  The date on the picture my mother took shows that I was no more than 21 months old—possibly younger, as my mother had a habit of sitting on negatives for a while before dropping them off to be developed (as she later told me).

I have other impressions from the same age.  I remember quite often that just as I was drifting off to sleep, I’d get a sensation of endless falling.  It was by no means a terrifying feeling, such as falling off a ladder or a cliff would be.  The sensation was pleasant—so pleasant, in fact, that I recall looking forward to it every night.  On each occasion, I had the feeling of falling endlessly through a colorless void.   The nightly falling dreams only lasted over a period of about a month, and then I never had them again.

One might ask—and I have, many times sense—how in the world would a toddler know what it feels like to fall endlessly?  I didn’t actually feel such a sensation in real life until the age of 15, when I soloed as a student pilot and was able to create such an effect for myself through flight maneuvers.  Could the sensation that I felt as a very small child have been a reflection of some other kind of reality?

My "haunted" kindergarten medallion
Let’s hold that thought for a moment and fast-forward to something that happened when I was in the 4th grade.  On my wall at the foot of my bed was a small white plastic medallion, shaped with the points of a star, that I had received upon graduation from kindergarten.  In the center was a classic pastoral scene showing Jesus the Good Shepherd tending a flock of sheep.  One night something awakened me from a deep sleep, and I glanced over at the medallion.  A shaft of moonlight was shining on the wall.  Caught in the ghostly white beam where the medallion should have been was a grinning, evil-looking human skull. (This incident inspires a plot line in the novel I'm now writing).

What’s a 4th grader to do in a situation like that?  What would you do?  What I did was to pull the covers over my head and lay there trembling with fright until the morning light. 

The crucifix that replaced the medallion
It was many, many years before I told anybody about the incident.  But what I did do at the time was to ask my parents to buy me a metal crucifix from the gift store at the Catholic church we attended.  My mother did that for me.  Our parish priest blessed it, and then I hung the cross in place of the medallion (which I nevertheless did keep.)

Let’s accept, for a moment, that very, very young children can’t distinguish between a dream and reality.  To them, the lion under the bed is real.  This psychological principle may be true, and probably is.  But it does not apply to 9 year olds.  I don’t know what happened, but I absolutely was not dreaming.  And for the record, since that time I have been free of epilepsy, brain tumors and mental illness (or at least of any diagnosis of such).

Over the years I’ve only told this story to a handful of people.  Recently, I learned that the wife of a friend of mine has had some training as a medium.  I told her about the story.  We discussed the possibility that perhaps I had been subjected to some kind of spiritual attack.

There’s no way to prove it one way or another.  And I’ll admit that saying it out loud—or typing it on these pages—sounds kind of kooky.  Except for one thing.  As it turns out, incidents of this type are quite common to the human experience.  And they happen to some people more than others.  There’s a name for such people, in fact.  No, not whackjobs.  Mediums.

I don’t say I’m the latter and I stand mute about the former.  Yet from time to time in my life, I will experience a thought that later turns out to coincide with an actual event.  I wrote about some of those incidents just recently.  In the vast majority of cases, the flashes are intriguing but ultimately are of no practical value.  On rare occasions, they feel like a premonition from the very beginning, and then turn out to have possibly been such.

After my mother hung that crucifix on the wall, nothing else happened for a long time.  The next “spooky” incident occurred when I was about 14 or 15.  Throughout my childhood, my family kept at least one cat, usually two.  One night as I was drifting off to sleep, I felt the bed bounce lightly.  I could tell that the cat visiting me was not my buddy Cruford, our Siamese male who regarded me as his person.  Instead, it was TC, a white and brown female calico who didn’t claim anyone as a person, and who consequently visited me much less often.  I knew this because of the way the bedsprings bounced; TC was much lighter than Cruford.  I didn’t like for TC to be in the room, because she had a habit of visiting only for a short while, and then wanting out.  So normally every night I did a room check before shutting the door and turning off the light, in order to make sure I hadn’t shut her in with me.  I must have missed her, I thought.  Sneaky little thing.

After a while, the bed bounced again as she jumped down.  I moved my foot over the warm spot where she’d been lying, and at this point I realized that I’d better get up and let her out now before I’d fallen fully asleep, or else she’d wake me later scratching at the closed door.  I got up and went over to it.  She wasn’t there.  Turning on the light, I looked around the room.  Nothing was in sight.  I checked under the bed and then poked into the closet.  Nothing.  There was no cat in the room.

I was a little weirded out.  But I didn’t know what else to think other than that I’d probably imagined it.  Certainly there wasn’t a thing to do about it other than to hope I wasn’t losing my mind.  I shrugged it off and went back to bed.  And I didn’t think about it again—until the next morning at the breakfast table, when my mother said, “The strangest thing happened last night.”  She then related a story about phantom cat visiting her in bed.

Now I was totally freaked out.  For the next several nights, I will admit that sleep didn’t come easily.  But whatever had happened, never happened again, to any of us.

Still, those were not the last strange occurrences during that period of time.  In fact, the fun was just beginning, although what started to happen next was a completely different type of phenomenon.  In about my sophomore year of high school, I began to hear the alarm clock go off, seconds before it actually did.  I don’t mean that I would wake up and open my eyes just before the alarm sounded.  I mean that I would hear in my mind a “click” as the alarm tripped, followed by a song as the radio circuits came to life.  Seconds later, the alarm would actually go off with a loud click, and inevitably, the song coming out of the radio would be the same one already playing in my mind.

At this point, skeptics will be able to chalk up absolutely everything I’ve said to dreams, half-asleep twilight fantasies, and coincidence.  The former require one to believe that even a 14 year old can’t discern reality from a dream, but I’ve read enough in the years since to know that many people actually do have that problem.  I don’t think I do, but fine.  As for the latter, certainly it’s not unusual for a person’s body clock to go off, especially if one wakes at the same time every day.  And if the radio is set to a Top 40 station, how many song choices can there be, anyway?  You’re bound to hit one sooner or later that was already playing in your brain, and when you do, boom, it screams “precognition” when really it’s just a coincidence.

I get those arguments.  But keep in mind this happened to me not once, not twice, but time after time after time.  On one occasion the song that played in my head just before the alarm went off was an obscure Uriah Heep tune that I’d never previously heard on the radio, and have not heard since (I was familiar with the song only because I had the album).  On several occasions I woke up, opened my eyes, and actually pointed my finger at the radio, only to have it click and start playing a split second later with the song I was already hearing in my mind.  Random chance does not explain it, in my view, or at least doesn’t explain all of it.  But I admit I can prove nothing.

My trick with the alarm clock was intriguing.  But a few months after that started happening, I had my first real precognitive dream.  I hesitate to use the word “vision,” but it was visual.

At this point in my life, I was training to become a private pilot.  I had soloed in a Piper Cub. 
The Cessna 150 I was flying during my "vision" in 1974
Basically, this model of plane is a kite with an attitude, a huge wire frame covered with fabric—in this case, bright orange fabric—and fitted with an engine.  After flying the Cub for a while, I graduated to a Cessna 150.  Just north of the airport was a huge dirt lot that had just been bulldozed for a warehouse complex.  One night I dreamed I was flying over it in the Cessna.  Looking down, I saw that the bright orange Cub had landed on a rough dirt lane that had been dozed in the orange clay—a lane that was destined to be a road or a driveway once the project was complete.  This seemed unusual to me, because the spot where the plane had landed was only about a mile from the airport.  Why would someone land there?  Then the dream ended.  I gave it no more thought.  The next day I went flying in the Cessna.  On return approach to the airport, I flew over the development.  I looked down—and have you guessed yet what I saw?  There was the Cub, parked on the dirt lane in all of its radiant bright orange glory exactly as I had seen in my dream. 

When I beheld this, I am not kidding when I say that an electric jolt passed down my spine.  I felt like I really had glimpsed the future the night before.  This gave me a weird, haunted feeling that it took me a week to shake.  As it turned out, it was a feeling I’d have again.  And by the way, upon landing I learned that the Cub had landed there because of an in-flight emergency.  A gasket had failed, dumping hot engine oil onto the legs and feet of the pilot, who was a friend of mine.  He was lucky he wasn’t killed trying to get the plane down.

The experience left me a little unnerved, but also intrigued.  Other incidents like it began to happen, although nothing so dramatic.  A name would pop into my head for no reason, and then I’d see the name in the paper or hear it on television.  The radio precognitions continued to occur with great regularity, and so on.  There were enough of these noteworthy occurrences that I began to keep a tape-recorded journal (which, alas, I have since lost).

Eventually—perhaps as my hormones settled down with adolescence—the pace of new incidents began to drop off.  The radio precognitions slowed and then stopped altogether.  And as I entered college, I more or less forgot about all of it.

Then ten years later, in 1985, three incidents happened in quick succession that rekindled my interest in the whole thing.  Those will be the subject of my next installment in this series.

Meanwhile, here’s a point to ponder.  What does it all mean?  Skeptics, you can sit this one out.  I’ll record your answer as “it means nothing” and won’t even argue with you.  From a strictly scientific standpoint, you’re right.  Mainstream science more or less ignores these phenomena, on the grounds that they cannot be reliably replicated in the lab.  And that is true.  They can’t.  But that statement is usually presented in such a way as to make the public believe that such phenomena have not been demonstrated in the lab, and that is not true.

More on this next time.

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If anything like these incidents has ever happened to you, I invite you to contact me.  Follow this link for contact info.  I also invite you to check  out my sci-fi novel, A Journal of the Crazy Year.




©2014 by Forrest Carr.  All rights reserved.

3 comments:

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  2. That's very interesting Forest.
    Perhaps something similar has happened to me. One day a work mate came up to me and said "watch this." Then he proceeded to sing a song, playing air guitar, and playing the riffs of a particular song. Then that song came on the radio. Then he did it again with a different song, and then that song came on the radio. Then he did it again and then the third song was played over the air. He said “See? I’m trying to show you what I can do.”
    The rest of this story, and how this came to happen, and what happened next are detailed on the front page of my website at http://ianparkinson.com/

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    1. I will take a look. Thanks for sharing!

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