On April 27, 1932, American poet Hart Crane leapt off the rear deck of the ship Orizaba not far from the Florida coast. His body was never recovered.
In many ways, I can understand Crane's life (and death). He was a fellow Ohioan, born in the small town of Garrettsville, not too terribly far from where I was born and raised. He never felt like he belonged anywhere he went, be it New York or Mexico. He struggled for acceptance in literary circles and was a bit of a laughing stock among the intellectually elite. He was a simple man with a simple education who used a dictionary to find the big words to make his poetry "sing".
But at the end of the day, he was just a plebeian... a high school dropout... with what some might call delusions of grandeur.
We often live in a world of mediocrity, trapped between ignorant dimwits and superior scholars and shunned by both. Society is one huge ladder, overflowing with people scampering among the rungs to reach higher levels. All we manage to do is step on each other's faces.
Perhaps this is why I've relished in escaping into the realm of the supernatural. There are no holier-than-thou spirits. Stupidity too seems rectified by death. It's one big melting pot of beings, absent of hierarchy and judgment. It doesn't matter if you're white, black, Christian, Buddhist, gay, etc. In the afterlife, spooks are spooks.
Paranormal investigators, on the other hand, are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Moral criticism in commonplace. We attack each other on our beliefs and theories. If someone decides to earn a few doubloons in their paranormal pursuit, they face harsh criticism from the rest of the mob. Those exploring the parapsychological paths in the field distance themselves from the "commoner 'ghost hunter'". You have extreme scientists and carefree enthusiasts. And they all seem to hate each other.
I'll be blunt and shameless and come right out and say it: I am not a scientist. I have no white lab coat. I'm not spending every waking moment testing fine-tuned hypotheses and waiting with baited breath for a positive result. When I began studying ghosts in my teenage years, I wanted to prove to the world that they existed beyond a shadow of a doubt. Nowadays, I feel less militant.
If anything, I consider myself more of the reporter. The social worker. The psychologist. I want to explore who the people were when they were alive, what happened to them, where they lived and traveled, and why they stayed. Are they still the same people even without a body? Do they linger out of shame or contentment?
That's where I become the radical. I believe people who call in exorcists to get rid of a simple ghost should be beaten repeatedly with a stick. I believe there are no simple scientific answers that will suddenly explain everything. I believe that there is fun and humor to be found in the afterlife. These are the things that make me a heathen, idiot, and unprofessional in the eyes of many.
But so what? Hart Crane lived his short life to its fullest. He never let a few opinions stop him. he never apologized for being different. none of us really should. No matter what we do or say in life, someone will take issue with something. There is always someone better or smarter. I'd rather be a fool at times and live an amusing life than please the world and end up miserable.
Life's too short... and the afterlife's too unpredictable.