I was never big on the paranormal, more as a defence mechanism than a true disbelief. Sneaking a viewing of Poltergeist as a young’un led to so many sleepless nights that I think my fragile little mind simply decided the notion of all that frightening mumbo jumbo was just not worth entertaining. And that’s fair enough. I’m still scared of the TV the moment the reception falls out. They’re here…farkin’ oath they are!
But there was a moment I was reminded of recently thanks to John Ogden’s debut novel, Woke. In it, the gallivanting young protagonist, Will Oakley, is in San Francisco (I think, or somewhere equally awesome to be in the late 60’s as a young man) and he experiences a deep and undeniable certainty…his dad, back in South Australia, has passed away. He knew it in his bones, he knew it in his heart, he was dead certain and he was dead right. The old man was gone. And something in the universe had made sure Will Oakley was aware of the loss long before any emotional telephone call from home would set the old man’s destiny in stone.
Reading the passage I was overcome with the most vivid memory from March 27, 2011. I was in Karratha at the time, physio’ing my little heart out (and precious little thumbs off.) It was Sunday evening and I’d just been for my late Sunday arvo run up Mt Karratha, as I liked to call it. It was a dusty hill across the road, no easy climb, and I liked to jog up with a mobile phone in one pocket and a tin of VB in the other. I had the timing pretty dialled in. Get to the top just in time to crack the tin, watch the sunset and give Dad a call.
I couldn’t know it at the time, but that was the last time I heard his voice, the last sunset we were able to share. Don’t worry, I’ve had many a VB tin since. Later that night, I was in charge of looking after the dog at the place I was staying. It was an adorable dog, but like most of our canine best friends it was dumb as dog shit too. While preparing dinner, the dog ran off out the door somehow, off into the night, certain to be run over on the main road not far off where Landcruisers and Hilux’s with high viz stripes were sure to make mince meat of the hapless mutt.
Running round in the dark, in the dust, trying to find the little fella, I had this vice-like grip around my chest, this unshakeable feeling that I was losing something so precious I would never be the same. I could hardly breathe. I thought logically about it, just relax, breathe, it’s a dog, you’ll find him. You’re fit as a fiddle. You’re not having a bloody heart attack. Just get on with it. And sure enough, that vice-like grip did subside and soon enough, I found the adorably dimwitted dog and we returned home safe and sound. I made sure to shut every door in the place so I wouldn’t have to chase the dumb bastard out into the streets again. Dogs are wonderful but gee they’re stupid.
Shortly after arriving home though, I didn’t know why I knew with such certainty that something was seriously wrong, but the feeling was undeniable. And, sure enough, almost on cue, a phone call came through. It was my sister, in Budgewoi on the NSW Central Coast, 3,600km away. Dad was gone. He’d died in one of the most gruesomely traumatic ways you’d never wish on your worst enemy. But that didn’t matter anymore. He was gone. That was that. And there was no question the universe had been trying to tell me. I’ll never be surer of anything, a vice-like grip on my heart that shook me to the core.
I guess for seven years I’d somehow suppressed that memory. But reading Oggie’s passage of a remarkably similar experience, it all came flooding back. I’ve got no idea what you can do with any of this information. I guess I’m just trying to say that some day, some genius, a woke boffin will discover the interconnectedness of everything in the universe and we’ll hopefully work out a way to harness that energy for something wonderful. I’ve got my doubts. Or is that the universe telling me that?
In the meantime, trust your intuition, your instincts, the feelings you’re overcome with and sensations you can’t describe, but can’t deny…they’re smarter and wiser and more knowing than you. Something important is going on, be ready for it.
Back to the main point though, do you believe in telepathy? Or whatever you want to call it? Do you believe the universe can talk to you? Do you believe what you’re doing right now has the capacity to talk to someone, somewhere miles, even light years away? Or do you believe I’ve had a few too many VB’s? Whatever your answer, this is a universe I’m sure glad to be a tiny, infinitely minute part of.
Liam J Carroll is the author of Slippery, a story set in Southeast Asia about capitalism on steroids, it makes the world of Gordon Gecko look positively gentlemanly, and Sweet Dreams of Fanta, a nostalgic romp in time back to the Sydney of 1988, seen through the eyes of a freckly, moon-faced, seven year old chubber, Fanta addict and devoted Balmain Tigers lover.