Saturday, October 15, 2005

believe in ghosts?

Maybe “believe” isn’t the right word…

I had an odd experience this morning. I put on the Animal Planet channel for Iz. (Iz loves Animal Planet, and animals in general). A show that focuses on a different dog breed each episode was on. Excellent, I thought, Iz loves dogs. I was only half watching as I made breakfast. And Iz wasn’t watching at all, as he roamed the living room with a shopping bag in hand, collecting his toys and dragging them around.

I can’t remember the name of the show, nor can I remember the specific breed of dog – some kind of spaniel. The show started with a story about ghosts in an English castle. I don’t remember the castle name, but it is open to the public. I also don’t remember the names of the gentry who originally lived there way back when.

But the story goes that a spaniel ghost haunts this castle. It appears as a normal, flesh and bones dog and runs up and down stairs, through halls, into rooms, and then disappears. Sightings are well documented: Visitors mention or complain about dogs being allowed to run loose in the castle, and the custodians and historians know all about this spaniel, which was owned by some lady (who also haunts the castle) hundreds of years ago.

While I watched this segment of the show (in a rather half-assed way, I remind you), I suddenly got serious goose bumps all over my arms and legs. I wasn’t cold. Nothing had changed in the climate of the room. I am not usually spooked by random ghost stories, especially on bright, sunny mornings. The goose bumps disappeared when the story was over and the show moved on to focus on actual flesh and blood spaniels.

When I retold the odd experience to my mother, I immediately got the extreme goose bumps again, which I found even stranger, compounding the earlier experience. While I type this, they are returning. Spooky.

I am not saying I believe in ghosts. Maybe I do think something might exist or linger (as vague as that sounds). I do think it is interesting that I reacted so strongly to a completely indirect experience – to something on television, a report of another’s report of the experiences of yet another layer of people. If I did “believe”, would my reaction validate the story itself, no matter how far removed? Or would it point to another “real” ghost in my own environment? Or simply point to something about me, inside me, that caused such a strong reaction?

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