Glimpses of rarely observed reality
IntroductionI use the title phrase instead of "supernatural" because there really cannot be anything outside nature. There can, however, be parts of reality, possibly large parts, that we have so far failed to observe; or have observed, but failed to integrate into our common understanding.
There are two antagonistic groups of people. These are not the only groups, but they are very visible, for they represent extremes in our belief spectrum.
One group bases their beliefs about the world on repeatable experience. Members of this group believe things that they have observed on multiple occasions, or things they hear from others were observed on multiple occasions, and confirmed to occur in a certain way. Their highest value is Reason.
At the opposite part of the spectrum are people who base their beliefs on fantasy. There are certain books that they call holy, and they think these books contain everything there is to know about the world. They wilfully ignore and explain away reports about other people's observations, they even discount observations of their own, when they conflict with their interpretation of the Book. Their highest value is Faith.
If we have to choose between the two groups, then of course the more sensible one is the one that believes in Reason.
A natural antagonism arises between these two groups. For Rationalists, antagonism is driven by the Believers' tendency to disregard Reason when Reason leads to conclusions different from the Book. Rationalists see this as stupid and harmful. For Believers, on the other hand, antagonism is driven by the Rationalists' disrespect for the Book. Believers see this as unholy and disrespectful.
The unfortunate part that I wish to discuss in this article is that the described antagonism, and awareness of a large group of people whose beliefs are couched entirely in fantasy, leads Rationalists to develop a resentment against any observation that others are unable to repeat at will. This resentment leads some Rationalists to discount all non-repeatable observations as fantasy.
This, however, is a position that is not supported by Reason.
Yes, for the most part, the world appears to be following immutable principles. For the most part, the world lends itself nicely to repeated observation, on which the bulk of our knowledge is based. Yes, this is the foundation of the progress of our civilization. It is the repeated observation of immutable laws that has led to the sort of understanding that produced the screen you're reading this on.
Imagine, however, what happens if the world does in fact contain rarely observed unreproducible components, while we expect all observations to be reproducible at will. Suppose you observe one of the rare, unreproducible phenomena. Suppose you relate that to Rationalists who are suspicious of Fantasy. What is their opinion likely to be? That you have indeed observed something that few people ever observe, something that our common knowledge does not yet understand? No; they will look for other explanations, and will prefer to discount your experience as irreproducible, and therefore probably a fantasy, rather than consider adding potential new entities to their conception of the world.
Such distrust is a direct consequence of Occam's Razor, which compels the Rationalist not to invent new entities when phenomena can be explained by existing ones. This is sensible and works for the most part. However, an inevitable result is that rare phenomena caused by actual rare entities will be misinterpreted and filed away as something else.
Because of this property of Occam's Razor, I think it's important that people with otherwise skeptical tendencies share any unusual experiences, in order to avoid actual but rare real events being discounted as fantasy.
My experienceI have never seen any ghosts or poltergeists, communicated with the dead, seen auras, performed telekinesis, had out of body experiences, or otherwise experienced first-hand most of the stuff they try to sell gullible minds at esoteric functions. I do believe that most people who make a living claiming supernatural capabilities seem to be charlatans.
Throughout my life, my experience of reality has been consistent and compatible with the laws of science. This is with the exception of two events which fit into the larger narrative of my growing up and meeting my wife.
Waiting under the clockThroughout my school years, I was a weirdo - a strange guy with few friends. I did well in school, but I had trouble finding peers that I could talk to about things I found of interest. My way of experiencing the world was deep and anchored in reason; their way of experiencing it was superficial and anchored in whim. I could talk to adults, but adults were not my peers. Even adults could often not keep up with my deep questioning of everything.
Lacking peers I could relate to, I was lonely and emotionally undeveloped. With hormones flowing through my veins, I was also horny as all hell. Being lonely, I wanted romance and companionship; being horny, I wanted sex; but being weird and emotionally undeveloped, I had trouble finding any.
Being shy, lacking self-confidence, but desperate for love and sex, I resorted to online chatrooms. At that time, that was the Internet Relay Chat. Trouble was, I wasn't the only guy competing for the girls' attention. At one time I conducted an experiment, taking a female name, and it wasn't long before 13 windows popped up - all guys wanting to chat up the female me.
Females being outnumbered like that, their attention was hard to get. Being nice, polite and smart didn't work, so I tried different approaches. In desperation, I tried one that was particularly vile - simply starting up all conversations by proposing sex. I was able to turn that into a conversation with some girls, and one in particular actually agreed to a meeting. We agreed to meet at a particular time, some evening, at Bavarski Dvor in Ljubljana, under the clock.
Needless to say, I was there. Needless to say, she was not. This was before mobile phones. I waited for an hour, she did not show up. I was angry.
Then, a weird experience. It felt vaguely as if someone was telling me something, not in words, but by thinking thoughts directly into my brain. If it were a conversation, it might have gone something like this:
|Other:||You know, the funny thing is, you're going to marry this girl in a few years.|
|Me:||No! It cannot be! She let me down and is most probably laughing at me!|
|Other:||Believe it or not, you aren't going to care about that then. You're going to be happy.|
|Me:||No! I'll show her! She can't treat me like this!|
|Other:||You won't show her. :)|
|Me:||But I want to!|
|Other:||There won't be any reason for it. :)|
|Me:||Unngh. Okay. Then why is she not showing up? Why can't we be together now?|
|Me:||I guess we might not be ready for each other yet. Unngh. Aargh! Why? I'm so lonely! I need someone now!|
That, in a nutshell, was the first experience. A couple more years elapsed before I found my first real girlfriend. Two and a half years later we broke up, and then it was June 9, 2002, a month before I was about to turn 22.
FFThe way I ran across FF (another, unrelated female) is interesting on its own. In the evening of May 28, a Tuesday, I was sitting at home doing some work at the computer when I felt a distinct intuition that I need to pick myself up and go to a certain club that I was visiting from time to time. Once there, I tired of the club itself, but didn't feel like it was time to go back home yet either. I hung around and waited for something to happen. After a while, a car pulls up and four people step out, one of them one of the most amazing women I have ever seen. It was as though I felt her, as though she was in color while everything else was black and white. I overheard her say something interesting; I felt like I needed to do something, so I dropped a note behind her windshield, referencing what I overheard her say, and proposing to meet.
Fast forward to the Sunday almost two weeks later, she gives me a call. I was surprised to hear from her, as I had all but forgotten about the note. We agreed to meet later that evening. As I was getting ready in the bathroom, a weird experience occured. Again, it felt as if some entity was imprinting a message directly into my brain, but it was a different message this time. It was strong. It was vivid. It was an overwhelming sense that this is the girl. This is who I'm fated to be with. This is my future partner. It's all-important. The message struck me deeply, and I headed for the date in a confused state.
The date was a disaster. I found her fascinating alright, but the experience I had prior to the date led me to complete openness and honesty, and this in turn led her to detest me. We were, and are, very different. My values and hers are deeply at odds, and I realized later that she does not seem to be a big fan of rational thought. She has a tempestual temperament, she burns like a fire, and her colorful temperament is what fascinated me about her.
The date ended for me in even deeper confusion than it started. I spent that evening and the next day trying to reconcile it. On the one hand, the message I had before the date is that she was my the one, but what happened instead is, she rejected me, condemned me, and departed with despise. (I didn't tell her anything you don't read about on this blog either, BTW. If anything, I was less extreme at the time.)
Another premonition followed subsequently, about as strong as the previous one. Again, it felt as if someone was feeding distinctly strong and foreign thoughts directly into my mind. The composition of this premonition was about as follows:
- I'm going to fall for this girl desperately.
- Over the course of a few years, I'm going to send her silly poetic pleadings that aren't going to meet with success.
- I'm going to meet two girls in the meanwhile that I'm going to have short sexual adventures with, but nothing deeper.
- By the end of the predicted timeframe, I'm going to meet a new girl ("NG") whom I will like and who's going to truly like me for who I am.
- Instead of me pursuing a relationship with NG though, FF will finally come through and I'll have a deeply meaningful relationship with her.
I don't consider these premonitions as predictive as much as they were self-fulfilling. They made me fall hard for someone I would not have otherwise fallen for. They made me fall for someone who was completely and utterly alien to me, someone who I knew detested me deeply and who was completely unresponsive. This led me to doubt myself deeply and to embark on a path of reconsidering myself and my ideas about the world, about partnership and romance. It was a traumatic but necessary transformation. The way I came out of this experience made it actually possible for anyone to endure me as a partner.
By the time I met NG as the premonition predicted, two years later, I had become deeply suspicious of the premonition itself. I rejected the final prediction, which held that I would forgo NG, with whom I was compatible, for no conceivable reason, and would instead find happiness with FF. I didn't see that happening at all. Instead I put an end to the obsession, started a relationship with NG, and we turned out to be, peculiarly, as if made for each other. NG is Jana.
The clockLater that year, Jana and I were living together as girlfriend and boyfriend. I felt we had a good thing going, but I wasn't yet sure. Our relationship was based on Reason. We didn't fall in love. We were together because we were attracted to each other, we saw that we were a good match, and we saw no reason not to be together given the compatibility. It made total sense; we got along great; yet, it wasn't like my attraction to FF, which was acute and overwhelming, as though it was magical. I was still unsure whether I might be missing something, some Real Thing.
This one evening, Jana was out on our balcony, talking to a friend of hers about random things. I overheard her saying how, when she was younger, she spent a lot of time on the Internet Relay Chat, and it was fun, but there were also all these weirdos who just wanted to have sex. She recalled how one annoyed her in particular, and explained how she "agreed" to meet him under some clock. Poor guy, hahaha, imagine how it must have been for him, waiting there and you not showing up. Serves him well for being such a dick.
At that point I joined the conversation, upset, and explained how it felt to be that guy. I was grudgingly resentful, but I couldn't be angry for long.
It turned out I had met the girl who made me wait under the clock. We eventually married. And she has really made me happy, as I hope I made her. We love each other, and I am happier now than I dreamed. :-)