Writing Helps Keep Me Fearless About the Unexplainable
I possess a healthy dose of imagination. When I was a little girl my mother called me a dreamer, as she did my father. Iowa practical, Mom was not handing out a compliment. But now I view it as one.
When I was going through my church’s confirmation process, I was in a constant state of panic. After attending all the classes, reading all the material, I was still unsure how to respond to the simple question I was supposed to answer before being confirmed: “Do you believe in God?”
“What am I supposed to say?” I asked my mother.
Putting down her dishtowel, she stared back at me. “Why you’ll say yes, of course.”
“But how do I know that’s the right answer? Won’t God know if I’m lying?”
Exasperated, Mom took me by the shoulders. “Here’s what you’re going to do, Laura. You’re going to say yes, take your engraved bible, and walk back to your place. Understand?”
Not really, but I did it anyway. I was the oldest. Obedient. But I felt like a phony.
Regarding faith, I respect religion. All religions. I also respect science. And history. Facts. As a journalist, I am required to check and recheck those facts. Proofread everything.
But here’s where it gets tricky for me. I also write fiction. Because I do, I spend hours pondering possibilities, looking for the stories between the lines. The grey zone, I call it. When I find that grey zone, my writing flows. It is there that I feel free to imagine the unimaginable. Consider that my preconceived views of the world are illusions.
I know I frustrate the linear thinkers in my life. The kind, patient, thoughtful friends and family members who glaze over when I start rambling on about the grey zone I just uncovered in my research. Those contradictions, though, fire my writing. I am always on the lookout for them, eager to wedge them between the lines of my story.
Sometimes, if I am paying attention, I reel in others who think outside the norm. Like the physicist who I met in the elevator of a local hotel. I hadn’t seen him in decades but I had a gut feeling it was him. That we were meant to meet. So I slipped a note under his door, telling him who I was. Asking him if he remembered me.
He did and we connected. The next night, over dinner with him and our respective spouses, I learned something about him that I’d never known before. Something he didn’t freely share with the physics community.
“I am convinced of the possibility of parallel universes,” he said. “And the part our dreams play in accessing them.”
In great detail, he told us about his research. I was fascinated, as this meeting happened to be a year after a dear friend’s 22-year-old son had been killed in a car accident. Two events following his death still haunted me. So I shared them with my physicist friend. One was a dream where my friend’s son was standing in a farm field, his back to me. In the dream, I was walking behind him. As I got closer to him, I smelled the cologne he always wore. Turning, he smiled and looked at me.
“Is it you?” I asked.
“Can I hug you?”
“Yes,” he whispered.
I can still feel that hug.
“Is there anything I can do?” I asked.
“Yes. Please tell my mother I’m okay.”
My physicist friend stared at me. “You know what this means, don’t you?”
“No. Not at all.”
“It means he trusted you. Knew you would get the message to his mother, who was probably in too much grief to handle his visitation herself. That is why he approached you in your dream. At least that is what I believe. I believe that for a very short time he was able to cross between both universes as long as there was someone there who was willing to receive him.”
Another time, on a flight to Iceland, I was captivated by the face of an older Icelandic man. He seemed to radiate kindness and wisdom. And something more: familiarity. I couldn’t stop staring at him and he seemed equally intrigued.
As we deplaned, he walked up to me. “Do we know each other?”
“No, but I think we should, don’t you?”
He smiled. Told me he was an author and university professor of metaphysics. I took his card. Friended him on Facebook. Discovered, to my amazement, that one of his books deals with the departed among the living.
People who have heard these stories have suggested I might have psychic abilities. I don’t think I do. I simply think I am curious and acutely aware of my surroundings. Open to the possibility that things may not be as they seem. Most writers and creative people are, as well.
A few people have asked if these events scare me. They never have, although there was a time when I hid them from others, afraid of what they might think of me. No longer.
As my practical mother once said of me, I am a dreamer. A dreamer who writes.
That is my spirituality. That is my science. That is my history.