Sunday, May 23, 2010

Being The Change

When I began pursuing my interest in the paranormal, volunteerism was not what I had in mind. My intention was to get off the beaten path; learn about the history of Nevada and the West, explore hidden ghost towns, investigate haunted places, and capture that one bit of evidence that would prove a place to be inhabited by spirits. A few weeks ago I responded to my friend Jill's invitation to spend a Saturday washing walls, and sweeping floors. Now if you're thinking that there could be so many better ways to spend a Saturday, you are probably right. But, as it turns out, I learned a little about myself, my place in my community, and the satisfaction of "giving back". Along with  members of R.E.A.L., Reno Paranormal Group, and Virginia City Paranormal, I helped clean up the Old Washoe Club in Virginia City. My muscles whined the next day, but my spirit hummed a happy little tune.

We humans are social creatures, we like to feel like we are part of a community, we are taught from a very early age the it is right and expected to do for others. When we fulfill our societal obligations by volunteering without expectation of reward, we feel good about ourselves. And we all like that feeling.

I am a member of the paranormal community here in Northern Nevada. When I began persuing my interests in the paranormal, I didn't know anyone save my friend Paula. It's been almost 2 years since I started investigating, and I have met a lot of interesting  people: some more so than others. The community is an eclectic one: true believers, skeptics, people looking for answers, people looking for a thrill. We range from the religious to the agnostic, young to old. The one commonality is that we all have an interest in the paranormal.

A great number of us have also share an interest in the Old West and it's history. Which only makes sense since a great deal of our investigations are spent wandering the ruins of old ghost towns and the dusty rooms of bygone eras. We spend so much of our time poring over historical archives researching the stories, they become lodged in our hearts, and before you know it, we've fallen in love with these old places; we develop a sense of ownership toward them and we want to see them preserved. Washing walls, scraping paint and sweeping floors seems a small price to pay for the hours of enjoyment we have gained persuing our pastime.

Mahatma Gandhi once said "Be the change you want to see in the world" and I believe that is what volunteerism is: being that change.

A Book Review: The Other Side: A Teen's Guide to Ghost Hunting and the Paranormal

At the Virginia City Paranormal Conference back in March, I had the pleasure of listening to Dave Schrader speak. Dave  is an experienced paranormal investigator, author and the host of "Darkness Radio". His talk was informative, Immensely entertaining and revelant to all aspects of the paranormal field, If you ever have the opportunity to hear Dave speak, do so. I was so impressed by the common sense advice he gave, that I bought his book: "The Other Side: A Teen's Guide to Ghost Hunting and the Paranormal" for Mariah.

This book was co-authored by Parick Burns and Marley Gibson.

Mariah has been hounding me to take her on an investigation, something I have been hesitant to do because of her age. However, she has been listening to me talk about my experiences, reads my blog, and watches the usual ghosthunting programs on a regular basis. I have taken her on a few ghost tours hoping that would placate her, but she is adamant about going on a true investigation. I had been looking for easy to read information on how to proceed with paranormal investigation, so this book came at an opportune time. 

I read it before handing it over to Mariah -not saying that I'm not a trusting person, it's just, that,...well..., I'm not a trusting person. Not when it comes to my child. I'm glad I did, because this book is very well put together, has great advice, emphasizes safety and responsibity, and is easy to read.

This book does a great job at pointing out the pitfalls of believing the stuff out there in TV Land. We all know (at least I hope we all know), that ghosthunting shows don't show the most important stuff about ghost hunting. TV gives the impression that ghost hunting is glamorous, and one can become rich and famous doing it. This book tells it like it is; ghosthunting can be long and tedious work, and for most people, a hobby-not a career. I like that the book encourages teens to find an adult to accompany them on their investigations and always stay with a partner or group.

Other topics the book covers: How to set up an investigation team, the equipment and how to use it, the technical jargon used by paranormal enthusiasts, where to find spirits, safety issues, and more safety issues.

The authors make good use of humor to deliver the information, but do not downplay the seriousness of the subject matter. I enjoyed reading this book, as did Mariah. I would recommend this to anyone with teenagers wanting to explore the paranormal.