Reality television tells us that as soon as we enter a building, we are in for a night of 'What was that?' and surprises at every corner. In real life, a paranormal investigation is very different, in fact, a lot of the time nothing happens at all!
It is investigation time! You have your kit packed and you have been planning for days, weeks maybe even months. Perhaps the location you are visiting is on your bucket list. Maybe it has a reputation to being 'the most haunted place in the region'. The day is finally here. You drive, maybe even fly a great distance to reach this location. You are excited. You have your plans in place and it is go time. It's time for 'lights out' and you start. Several hours pass and the excitement has gone. There has been a lot of sitting around. A lot of waiting, watching, listening. There hasn't been a hit on your equipment. No 'spooky' feelings. No strange sounds. Nothing remotely 'paranormal or interesting' has happened. You may even feel a little bored. While it is not what you 'see' on television, this is actually what paranormal investigating is really like. A lot of the time, nothing happens at all.
It doesn't mean that you have 'done something wrong'. In fact, it kind of means you are doing things right. It means that you aren't thinking every single noise is something paranormal. It means you are using your head and going through the process of investigating. A lot of that process is quite frankly sitting around and waiting for something to happen. In a lot of ways, this is where your love of the paranormal comes in. If you don't love what you do, sitting around for hours in the cold waiting for something to happen can become tiresome quickly. If you don't like the people you are investigating with, sitting around in close quarters with them for hours upon hours when you become tired, cold, and cranky can cause 'issues'. It is your love of what you do that makes those long hours of nothingness worthwhile.
So if not much really happens, why do we keep doing it? It is the potential, not the expectation. If you go into an investigation expecting a lot of activity or certain things to happen, you are going to walk out disappointed. There is a famous quote 'Expectations are premeditated resentments'. An expectation is never met. The longer you have hyped a location up in your mind heard the stories, maybe even watched other teams investigate there, it is building an impossible expectation in your mind that cannot be filled. One thing to keep in mind particularly when watching either YouTube videos or even reality shows is that it is only a small snapshot of an entire evening. It is often edited into a short couple of minutes and it is edited in a way to build excitement and make it look entertaining. As much as people complain that a lot of reality and YouTube shows don't depict a true investigation, would the same people sit and watch an 8-hour video of people sitting in a dark room doing nothing but waiting? I know I probably wouldn't. While this is truer to what really goes on, it quite simply isn't entertaining - and that is what we need to remember these videos and tv shows are.
I recently asked people to say what they thought was important advice for someone entering the paranormal field. One of the most commented items was to have no expectations. While we go into these things without expectation, we obviously see the potential. It is this potential that drives us. It is the potential of knowing that perhaps we might capture something we cannot explain. It is the potential of knowing we may experience something that shakes us to our core or makes us question our beliefs. It is the potential of being a part of something. It is the potential of maybe getting that one step closer to what it is we are looking for. This is what drives us and makes the long nights of sitting in a dark cold room worth the time and the effort. At the end of the day, you know that even if you walk out with nothing, you know you will have had a good time with good company and for a lot of people, that is just as much a part of the experience.
Investigating the paranormal is very hit and miss. Anyone who can 'guarantee' that you are going to have a paranormal experience on an investigation is either lying or is misinformed. If spirits really are the consciousness or soul of a person who has passed away, they aren't performers. You cannot make a person talk if they don't want to, so spirits would be the same. They aren't going to come out and talk just because someone is yelling at them in the dark to talk. Aren't there days when you yourself want to just be left alone? Perhaps this is the case in the spirit world and why on so many occasions, even in the locations that report the most activity, they also have nights where nothing happens at all. Maybe it comes down to the energy of the group investigating. Sometimes when there is a person who has an obnoxious energy, things can be really quiet. Sometimes a person is not into it and sits with arms crossed not wanting to be there, these are the kind of things I believe can make a difference. Maybe a person is just really loud and talks a lot or demands the attention of a room they are in. In the same way, a person can claim they are a 'beacon' to activity, there are some who seem to act as a repellent. If we look at things from the perspective of paranormal theory and things like the atmosphere and the conditions to be just right for a paranormal event to occur, what are the chances then that this happens every single week? Statistically, it is impossible for those conditions to be 'just right' every Saturday at 9 pm for example. If we take the angle of it being us causing the activity, exercises such as the Philip experiment where they conjured a spirit just by thinking about it, it took them over a year before they started seeing any results. Investigating is a long commitment and extends far longer than the 2-4 hours of a one-night investigation. On most occasions, you are going to come away with nothing or maybe just 1 small experience or moment.
Ultimately, in the same way, that we don't even know what a spirit is, we also don't know how they are able to communicate and what 'fuels' this communication. That is what brings us back to investigating. We use different methods to see if there are things that we can do to recreate or even act as a catalyst for activity. We use devices to measure the environment to see if in fact there is a pattern linked to paranormal phenomena. So even though we may walk out of an investigation without the data we need or so much as an EVP or photo worth reviewing, what we do walk out with is not only more questions but experience. This experience while at the time you may not realize it, will become quite valuable to you in the future.
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