Exploring the Dimensions of a Normal and Paranormal Life
In retrospect, the only reason I crawled inside the body storage unit of the old morgue was to give my feet a rest. Our group had been through every room of the abandoned hospital over the course of seven hours, and dammit, it was two in the morning and my feet hurt.
I grabbed a digital recorder and crammed all five-nine of me into the small dusty enclosure head first (“so they can tag your toe” one of the guys said earlier, and nervous chuckles followed).
I was delighted to be off my feet and away from the group. Granted I had traveled with them to this iconic location that is every paranormal investigator’s dream (or nightmare), but I wanted to experience this by myself.
As I lay in a tray where hundreds have been before me in various states of their post-mortem journey, I thought of people who engage in similarly outrageous things like mountain climbing or skydiving. They climb it because it’s there and jump out of it because they can. They feel significant. They push their bodies to their physical limits.
I explore the ruins of a haunted building because it’s there and I can.
To feel insignificant.
To push my mind to its intellectual limits.
Maybe something is wrong with me. How can I go from a nine-to-five healthcare quality assurance manager to a paranormal investigator in the span of a couple of hours and a wardrobe change?
I wiggled my toes as if to prove I was still alive. I was. Yet I yearned for an answer.
It didn’t come when I wriggled my way out of the morgue and into the Uber, nor throughout the red-eye back to Wisconsin, nor during the 18-hour nap I took when I got home.
But it would come eventually.
Six months later, I took myself on a vacation to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania aching to recreate the colorful headspaces that tend to accompany a paranormal experience. My hotel came with its own friendly ghost who would turn on the hot tub jets and flush the toilet in the middle of the night.
I was in hog-heaven.
I found myself on hikes through some of the heavily wooded areas of the Gettysburg battlefield where thousands of soldiers perished over 150 years ago. It was October and I was between seasons, between time zones, between states of mind recognizing the inherent beauty of the land but acknowledging that the remains of hundreds of Union and Confederate soldiers still soaked the earth beneath my feet in unmarked graves.
It was at Culp’s Hill where I smelled a faint, pungent scent of old gunpowder while admiring some original limestone breastworks. Historic Gettysburg sites (Little Round Top, Spangler’s Spring) also brought forth some residual energies including the smell of pipe tobacco and the faint flicker of lights in the tree line at sunset. I leaned against one of the many witness trees and thought about how so many others before me had done the same. Maybe those lights were their lanterns.
I found myself staring into the ominous skies over Pickett’s Charge one evening wondering if they were truly clouds, or if they were the smoky ethereal remains of shots fired decades ago.
I was not afraid. I was simply between worlds. For a moment in time, the energetic imprints of the war have bled into my time.
A distant boom of what sounded like a cannon confirmed my realization.
At this moment I smiled, wiggled my toes, and wondered how I could ever go back to a “normal” life after having such a profound experience.
When I returned to my hotel room where the lamp on the nightstand welcomed me with a flicker, I jotted down some notes on the day’s adventure. Some things can’t be explained, only experienced.
Yet I yearned to explain.
I grabbed my notebook and crammed all five-eleven of me (I was wearing heels) into the furthest corner of the conference room (“so I can plot my escape” I said to the stranger next to me, and a polite chuckle followed).
I was delighted to be a part of a national conference where I could hobnob with fellow QA nerds and drink an endless supply of coffee without judgment.
This group of attendees had been through every PowerPoint and vendor booth over the course of three days, and dammit, it was four in the afternoon and our feet hurt.
Aching to lie down in the morgue again, I looked around the room and observed my fellow healthcare quality assurance professionals. We work in a variety of settings, from nursing homes to acute care facilities, but we all have one thing in common: curiosity. We study how facility operations are designed, how patterns develop, and how those systems impact workflow and patient outcomes. Most of us are social introverts who influence and motivate leadership to care about systems thinking and compile the data they need to drive their decisions. To me, “quality” is not just a measure of facility outcomes but an awareness of the designs that created them.
I jotted this epiphany down in my notebook at the precise moment I heard the boom of the conference speaker say that systems thinking was simply understanding “how an environment absorbs the inputs”.
I froze. How an environment absorbs inputs. Why hadn’t I thought this before?
I took furious notes much to the shock of the person next to me since I otherwise hadn’t moved in 45 minutes. I am the space within a Venn diagram! In one circle, I study how paranormal systems imprint on the environment. In the other circle, I study invisible systems within a bustling healthcare facility. I see energetic inputs where others may not and patterns that are not obvious to the naked eye.
It was a beautiful synchronicity: my professional, intellectual life bled into my spiritual, inner-dimensional life. I am exactly where I need to be: in my normal life, in my paranormal life. The powerful center of a Venn diagram between this world and that world, between the conference room and the battlefield.
Perhaps if you find yourself between worlds, pause before declaring the experience scary or sacred. Take pleasure in hearing your blood flowing through your veins. Welcome the thoughts that pop into your head. Enjoy the connection to a benign residual energy. Whether you’re climbing into a morgue, climbing a mountain, or climbing the corporate ladder, there will always be those invisible systems at play that have your best interest in mind.