by LJ Frank
It was 11 pm. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major was softly playing in the background while I was writing when my phone rang. I turned off the Internet radio.
Simone (her pseudonym of choice) was calling. She apologized for the late hour. A collegial friend of mine, in her late 50s, Simone had explored primitive cultures and ancient architecture as a hobby. She was widely traveled and studied anthropology with graduate work at UCLA, and after fifteen years in the academic field switched to architecture studying at the University of Michigan with some additional post graduate studies at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.
We originally crossed paths in Ann Arbor where I was working on my 2nd master’s degree, developed a friendship, and we decided to stay in touch mostly on an annual basis, though recently our conversations came every few months. Anecdotally, (much of my life feels anecdotal cosmologically speaking) we connected more frequently with each other, which may have something to do with aging and passage of time. We were both interested in what the effects of architecture, sound, and light had on human emotions, thought, and related behavior over the centuries.
Simone thought she had a reasonable scientific approach to life in general until a recent event that caused her to question her perspective. Upon reflection of the event, she began to think in terms of auditory hallucination or on the other hand, something associated with electronic interference such as white noise or EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena).
Here’s what took place: A few days prior to calling me she had an unnerving experience while traveling to see her close friend Carol, who lived in another city about a three hour plus drive away. What she didn’t know was that a few hours after their chat the previous day, Carol had collapsed and died. Simone didn’t find out about Carol’s death until she arrived and a neighbor explained what happened. However, while driving to her friend’s she was switching channels on the radio and encountered much static. She had static on her car radio on previous occasions. But it was midst of the static she heard a voice fade in and out and so tried to adjust the tuning as to increase clarity. The voice sounded familiar. Perhaps it was another radio station overlap. Radio frequencies get mixed depending on a number of practical factors including signal strength and distance.
This was different. The voice called out to her using her pseudonym. “Simone! (Static) It’s me. Carol. (Static) Can you hear me?” Her voice again faded and was drowned out by more static. Simone became anxious. So, when she arrived at her friend’s place, she felt overwhelmed and didn’t want to appear foolish so kept the experience to herself with one exception. She wanted to talk to a good listener and thought of me.
Upon hearing her concern, I suggested she take her time. She explained her thinking and what took place. That some people grow close enough to each other they can feel the other person’s presence even when the other person is not there, alive, or dead. It’s when you’re in touch with yourself and each other that it’s a symbiotic relationship, with the observation that the human brain is a complicated instrument that may see patterns where none exist.
Simone said. “I’ve noticed I can feel the presence of someone other than me when I am in certain types of buildings. Perhaps it’s the voices of the past that entered that building or those who designed it. It’s my imagination. Perhaps it’s a desire for a deeper connection. Perhaps internal vibrations…all originating in my own head. I’m unsure. My friend Carol loved architecture and we would explore buildings together. I was able to nudge her when we saw something that was remarkable. Now I only have the thought of nudging her.”
The experience affected Simone’s sleep. She felt life after death lacked sufficient evidence and then added, “I’m an agnostic. So much is hearsay. I question whether a person’s consciousness survives their physical death…I’m not absolutely certain. So, I called you. Carol was reaching out to me. This has never happened to me before.”
She suggested auditory pareidolia and attaching meaning to an event that was beyond a meaningful interpretation. She didn’t know. Yet, she felt her friend’s presence. I didn’t have an answer. She appreciated my listening without judging her.
Though I asked, we both were curious – “How many dimensions exist around us and currently beyond scientific measurement, and if we could see and measure them, how much of those dimensions could we knowingly tolerate without being overwhelmed? And does being able to tolerate something a necessary step toward adaptation?”