Column: Ghost hunt opens eyes to the paranormal
I don't remember the first time I became interested in the paranormal.
I had never known anybody who had seen a ghost or experienced a paranormal event, that is, until I went to college at Ohio University.
For those of you who are familiar with the campus, I'm sure you also know the legends it holds, from the eeriness of the Ridges - a former lunatic asylum that overlooks the campus - to the countless stories of hauntings each building seemed to have.
My freshman year, I lived in Jefferson Hall, a four-floor building that stretched the length of a city block. The ghost that supposedly haunted my dorm building was that of a woman in white who roamed the halls late at night.
I never knew anyone who saw this woman in white, but nonetheless the story was terrifying, especially during middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom, which was located down the hall from my room. I'll never forget how long it seemed to take to get to the bathroom, even though in reality it was only a matter of seconds.
They were stories, handed down from prior classes, told by people I didn't know. But after I graduated, I seemed to meet more and more people who had experienced something paranormal. Some were open to talking about it. Others weren't.
Then came television shows like "Ghost Hunters" and "Paranormal Society," which whether you like them or not, opened the door to more conversations. Those who believed in the possibility that maybe something was out there that we didn't completely understand weren't all that crazy.
If you ask many of the "ghost hunters" out there today, they'll tell you they didn't need a television show to affirm their curiosity or the events they had experienced at one point in their lives.
For me, the shows didn't answer the questions I had begun to form more than 10 years ago when I was in school. In fact, I have more questions now than ever.
Is there life after death? Why do some people's spirits seem to pass while others don't? Are there reasonable explanations for even the most unreasonable things we've experienced?
In November, I was offered the opportunity to go on a "ghost hunt" with members of the Central Ohio Paranormal Society at the Little Theatre Off Broadway in Grove City. (I would be amiss if I didn't shamelessly plug my story here. If you haven't read it, go to www.columbusmessenger.com and click on "Southwest." )
For weeks leading up to the ghost hunt, my stomach turned as thoughts of uncertainty loomed in my head. For years, I've had questions that I've longed to have answered. But I've also had the fear of the unknown. And to me, by going on this ghost hunt, there was a real possibility that I might see or hear something that I wanted - yet didn't want - to see.
As it turned out, I didn't experience anything paranormal. But I was surrounded by people who had many of the same questions I had. For years, they've sought proof - scientific evidence - that paranormal activity does occur. At the same time, they've sought proof that in some instances, it does not.
Their theory: If something - a sound, a voice, a sighting - cannot be explained, it may be paranormal - or beyond normal.
That doesn't mean it's a ghost or a spirit. But that doesn't mean it's not either as well.
And that leaves us where we started - with questions.
Maybe some questions in life aren't meant to be answered. That doesn't mean, however, we should stop asking.
Christine Bryant-Whaley is the editor of the Eastside Messenger.