I got really angry over the weekend.
The reason isn’t important. I let someone get to me. Doesn’t really matter who. Or what they did that set me off.
The point is that I got angry.
Getting angry colors the way you look at things. And the way you feel things. And the way you react. Basically, if you let it, it screws up everything.
I’m getting better. I used to let a lot of things get me riled up. Now, it’s mostly relegated to traffic. And my computers.
I’m going to go ahead and out myself now. You may not believe what comes next, and I understand that. A year ago, I wouldn’t have believed it, either.
About a year ago, I started to talk to dead people.
That in itself isn’t really that big of a deal. I imagine there are lots of people who say or think things to dead people (some may even direct prayers to them).
But a couple months later, they started to talk to me.
I’ll pause for a moment to allow the cynics to leave. Another moment, for those who are offended to unfriend and unfollow me.
Still here? Good!
I don’t pretend to know everything. I don’t even pretend to know a lot. In fact, I don’t even pretend to know more than you.
When I’ve mentioned this to anyone, and there haven’t been many that I have, I get a few different reactions.
Some don’t want to hear about it and don’t want to talk about it. They don’t even want to know about it, and would prefer I don’t say anything more about it.
Some are willing to believe, if and only if I can produce some kind of proof.
And some are curious, but are quick to add that if people could come back to let us know something, then we would have heard about it by now.
Not really anything I can say to people who fall into that first group. You can’t make someone believe something, especially if they’re closed off and don’t want to hear it. And, that’s fine. There may come a time when they’re ready. And then again, they may never be ready.
I can’t really help the second group, either. Think about it. Is there a deceased relative in your family, that you think would go to the trouble to make contact with you, solely for the purpose of taking some kind of test?
Besides, I’m pretty sure that whatever proof I produced wouldn’t be enough.
For example, when I was still firmly entrenched on the skeptic side, I attended a spirit gallery at Teresa’s. We were just getting to know each other then.
Anyway, she asked everyone in attendance to think about who they wanted to hear from. I wasn’t sure who that would be for me. I mean, I was never particularly close to any of my relatives that have passed away.
Finally, I decided it would just be nice to hear from someone that they were proud of me. I’ve often had a low opinion of myself, and I thought it would be really nice to hear from someone on the Other Side that they were proud of me. Maybe I wasn’t such a screw-up after all.
The evening progressed, and different messages were relayed for different people. Then, Teresa described someone who she was having difficulty understanding, and I just knew it was my uncle.
I don’t think I’d thought of him in years, and have no idea why he popped into my head. But he had a very thick Yiddish accent, which actually made me laugh as a child, even though I had no idea what he was saying.
So he came through and said something along the lines of “Look at what you’re doing! You are amazing!”
And while this is a little difficult to describe, I just knew it was him. I could feel him, how happy he was to see me and how much he loved me.
Later that evening, I completely discounted the experience.
He didn’t give me any specific information, after all. Just that he was proud of me. Kind of a generic message. It could have been for anyone. Or from anyone.
The fact that it was exactly what I had hoped to hear, well, that didn’t matter.
I’m pretty sure that, for most, the kind of proof they would require would meet the same fate.
While the message was generic, the feeling was not. I could feel, in my head and in my heart, the love.
It might sound corny, but it’s true.
Unfortunately, over time, that initial overwhelming and almost intoxicating feeling can fade. And for skeptics, as I was, the temptation is to measure and quantify. So even though I got the exact message I was hoping for (which I’d told no one) and had that incredible feeling of being so loved, I was ready to dispute it again.
After all, he didn’t give me winning lottery numbers. Or any other information that only he and I knew about. Of course, he passed away when I was twenty, and I might have actually gotten to spend time with him twenty times in total in my whole life.
But I didn’t have anything concrete that I could point to.
And I think that’s one of the big problems most people have with this kind of thing. They feel that they might be willing to believe if they could just get some kind of indisputable, irrefutable proof.
There certainly were a couple of phrases that my uncle could have used that would have been that kind of proof. But if you could come back and deliver a message to your nephew, would you dig deep for something trivial you talked about thirty or forty years ago? Or would you tell him you were proud of him and you loved him?
I know which I would do, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
And then there are those who say if this were true, why hasn’t anyone come back to tell us?
I think they come back all the time. We just don’t, or won’t, hear them. Most want to believe, but don’t. Maybe they don’t know how. Or maybe they just think they know how the world works and this just doesn’t fit in with their view.
Or maybe they don’t think they’re worth it.
I think that last one is very true for a lot of people. They just can’t wrap their heads around the possibility that they are so loved, that someone would come back to tell them that.
I have news for you.
We are all loved. And everyone you have ever loved is just a thought away. It’s really that simple.
If you can’t hear them, can’t see them in your head, can’t feel them near, that doesn’t mean you’re not loved, or that you’re a failure. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
We’ve been so conditioned by books, television and movies to think that there must be some momentous event or occurrence to accompany contact from the Other Side. The ground should tremble. The lights should flicker. The temperature should drop. There should be slime. Etc.
It’s so much simpler than that.
Imagine someone you loved who has passed away. Think about them and how much you loved them. Think about talking to them right now. What would they say? Can you feel it?
Maybe that’s a little over-simplified, but that’s basically all it is.
Ever been in the middle of doing something and suddenly your grandfather pops into your head? You weren’t even thinking about him, and then all of a sudden, you are! If this has ever happened to you, odds are pretty good that you’ve already been communicating with the Other Side, and you don’t even know it!
You don’t have to be some kind of genius to be able to do this. There’s no secret of the universe you have to know, no secret skill you have to spend years developing, no special school you have to attend, no expensive online course you have to take.
I wanted to write something here about anger, fear and doubt. Those are the big three that can really get in the way, and make it difficult for you to love, or to feel just how much you are loved.
I know too many people who get all caught up in those, letting each fuel the other. I only hope they can figure it out and let that stuff go. Because when you can do that, everything is better. Colors are richer, music is sweeter, food tastes better. Every single sense is improved.
And do you really gain anything by holding on to the garbage? So if you want to try and think about it practically, what do you have to lose?
Usually, when I write these blogs, I give you some history on the song and the artist. I go over possible meanings of the song, and what I feel that it means, at least to me. But I think this one is really as simple as the overall message in this blog.
Believe that you’re worth it. Believe that you’re loved.
Because you are.
And that’s all you need.
Yes, “Free Bird”. The same song that at least one drunken idiot yells out at every concert, regardless of who the singer or band is.
The song means a lot of different things to a lot of people.
Some view it as a kind of anthem for the South. Others think of it with disdain, and think of it as a Redneck anthem for the South.
It’s a song with an auspicious history – clocking in at just over nine minutes as the final song on the debut album of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The only single from that first album was “Gimme Three Steps”, which became a staple of rock radio, but failed to chart as a single.
“Free Bird” was launched as a single later, after the next album came out, which produced their first hit – the top ten smash “Sweet Home Alabama”.
That single version was really only half the song, edited down to a little over four minutes. Some in the radio biz thought that was still too long, and an even short version was produced, coming in at about three and a half minutes long!
The song really took off in 1977, when a live version was released. That one was over fourteen minutes long. And it’s the one that begins with Ronnie Van Zandt asking the audience, “What song is it you wanna hear?”
In October of 1977, everything changed for Lynyrd Skynyrd when Ronnie Van Zandt and Steve Gaines were killed in a plane crash. Most of the other members of the band were injured in the crash, to varying degrees, and for all practical purposes, Lynyrd Skynyrd was no more.
The surviving band members did reunited about ten years later, as a form of tribute, and they played this song as an instrumental at shows, inviting the audience to sing, instead. Shortly after, the reunited version of the band recorded new material, and have been producing music and touring ever since.
A few years ago, I posted this song on my Facebook page, and got a wide variety of responses. Some from friends who loved the song and hadn’t heard it in a while. Some who hated it, and referred to it as the most bloated and over-rated song ever to see the light of day.
It’s a pretty simple song, lyrics-wise. At its heart, it’s about deciding to fly high and that no one, or no thing, can tie you down and keep you from doing what you want to do.
No one can keep you from doing what’s in your heart. And you should never give anyone that kind of power. There’s a world of difference between deciding you’re going to do something, and having someone else make that decision for you.
I know someone who wanted to be a writer, and was given an ultimatum by his partner – you have one year to make it as a writer, and after that, if you haven’t made it, you let it go and never bring it up again.
Compare that to the tale of another writer, who was given a year, and when it didn’t happen for them in that timeframe, together the two of them figured out how to try and make it work, and found a way that he could keep working at it, around other things if need be, to make it work.
That second guy’s name is Dean Koontz, by the way. Hopefully, one day, I can tell you who the name of the first guy, and you’ll recognize that, too!
Of course, it’s always easy to blame that kind of thing on someone or something else, isn’t it? The reason I’m not a rock star, bestselling author, Oscar-winning actor, stock market billionaire, etc. is because of you, or my job, of my parents. I have to work at that soul-stealing job. I have to pick up the kids from school, and then take them to soccer practice or ballet lessons. I have to go to Wal-mart, Target and the grocery store.
Most of the time, the truth is we’re our own worst enemy. The only thing that keeps us from reaching our goals, from achieving our dreams, from flying high, is our fears, our worries, ourselves.
Too often, we aren’t a bird that can’t be changed. We’re a bird that is afraid to fly.
Personally, I have two memories I associate with the song, and neither had anything to do with the words.
I remember when I was in high school, and several of my friends and I got caught rolling someone’s house. That is, we had purchased a large quantity of very cheap toilet paper, and decorated the outside of their premises with it – in many cases launching the rolls high up into the trees, where gravity would bring the roll back down, leaving a long trail back up to the highest branches.
It was truly a beauty to behold. Plus, I was only sixteen.
On this particular occasion, local law enforcement had been roaming the neighborhood, looking for actual ne’er-do-wells. They caught us, instead.
But we knew the people whose home we had decorated, and they thought it was funny. Plus, their son, who went to school with us, was out on a date, and they wanted to leave it up so he could see our handiwork.
So they let us go.
The story got out, and some at school laughing referred to us as “jailbirds”. I protested, pointing out that we didn’t go to jail, or even get arrested. We were freed. So, if anything, we were freebirds.
The song became our theme song, as the next weekend, we returned to our lives of ne’er-do-well-ness.
The other thing I associate with this song is from when I was in college.
Some friends and I were kind of in a band. I say “kind of” because we rarely rehearsed, and played as many as one gig each semester. And that gig consisted of one song, played at a get-together for a music organization on campus. I believe our illustrious career lasted as long as three semesters.
We were nicknamed “Two Stripes and a Solid” because of the clothes we happened to be wearing at that first performance. And the song we had learned was “Free Bird”.
I’d heard the song before either of those events, of course. And I’ve heard it several times since. But mostly, when I hear it, it takes me back to those two periods of my life, when I was hanging out with and having a lot of fun with my friends.
And that’s mostly what it means to me.
This has nothing to do with the song’s lyrics, the origin of the tune, the band, the album it was on, or anything else. It’s simply a personal remembrance in which this song was a part.
Sometimes, it really is that simple.
We want things to be tricky and complicated. We want to think too much. And we figure if we’re given a sign in a song, it must have to be have kind of cryptic meaning that will lead us to a better understanding of the universe.
But life really isn’t an Indiana Jones or “National Treasure” movie. And sometimes you have to remember not to take it so seriously.
So what does it mean for you?
Does “Free Bird” take you on a nostalgic trip to someone you used to be? Or does it mean more, that you need to let something go, or let go of something, so you can be what you’re meant to be?
It’s a long song, so it could very well mean something else entirely to you.
Here’s a version from a tour in 1976, very similar to the version that wound up on their live release. Do yourself a favor, when you have the time, and give it a listen. See where it takes you, and if it helps you find that inspiration to fly as high as you can, or at least, as high as you want!
I introduce myself as a former skeptic on the show.
I’ve seen enough, heard enough and experienced enough that I just don’t think it’s realistic to be skeptical any more.
For those who find all this paranormal, supernatural or metaphysical stuff too out there, and need some kind of concrete proof, I can’t help you. You’ve already made that decision, whether you’re aware of it or not.
I mean, let’s be reasonable. Can you think of even one of your relatives that have passed on, who would go to the trouble to find you, ready to share their love for you and the knowledge that we all go on, and then be ready to take some kind of test? Not likely. My family doesn’t even like to do that when they’re still alive!
For those who don’t believe in any of this “woo-woo” stuff, I’ve been in your shoes before. I was a little like Mulder on “The X-Files”. I wanted to believe. But I always found reasons not to. I chalked things up to coincidence. I’d read too many Stephen King novels. I figured whoever was trying to convince me of something had an angle they were working.
Have you ever seen “The Polar Express”? There’s a great scene in that where the boy is on top of the train with the hobo, and the hobo asks him if he’s a believer (in this case, obviously, they’re talking about Santa Claus). The boy says he wants to believe but…
And the hobo says, “You don't want to be bamboozled. You don't want to be led down the primrose path! You don't want to be conned or duped. Have the wool pulled over your eyes. Hoodwinked! You don't want to be taken for a ride. Railroaded!”
I felt like this and I’m sure there are plenty of others who felt the same.
So here’s what I experienced this weekend, and really, it’s a little thing. It may mean nothing to you. It may not be any kind of sign. It may just be a coincidence.
But it is, at the very least, a little odd.
I get songs in my head. Not unusual. We all do, right?
The difference, and we can argue later if there is one, is that most of the time, the songs I get are some kind of message. Music has always been important to me, and if I do have a gift, this is it. I get songs.
I’ve dabbled at Tarot, but never found a deck I was comfortable with, felt a connection with, that kind of thing. So I decided to make my own, using songs I felt were appropriate for each of the cards you’d find in a regular, 78-card deck.
I made a playlist of those songs, and uploaded them onto my Amazon cloud. I’m doing my first bunch of readings at a special even in Las Vegas this weekend, and thought it would be a good idea to have the music as a backup, should I have any trouble trying to convey a particular song to someone.
For those few that have had the misfortune of hearing me sing, you know this is a good idea.
When you buy a song from Amazon or iTunes or wherever, and you play it back, you usually get a little picture of the album cover. Since I edited these songs to the part that really tied in with the particular card, there’s no data for artwork. So they should all be blank.
They’re all the same.
Not a big deal. Amazon is probably just using something I played or uploaded recently as kind of a go-to cover since mine were blank.
The album in question is by a group called the Replacements. If you don’t know them, or don’t think you know them, you are probably familiar with the song “I’ll Be You”, a big 80’s hit and the subject of this blog.
Neither the Replacements or the song “I’ll Be You”, or anything similar, are in any of my playlists on Amazon. The closest I can get to this is that I steamed their comeback EP, “Songs For Slim”, about a year ago. On Rhapsody, not Amazon.
The significant thing for me is the album artwork. You probably can’t see it very well in that lousy smartphone picture I took, so here’s what that album cover looks like.
And why is that significant?
Teresa and I are taking Psychic Tapestry on the road next weekend. We’re going to be hosting a Past Lives even in Las Vegas (and you can click on VEGAS above for all the details).
Without revealing too much too far ahead, a large part of what we’ll be doing centers around Titanic. This weekend is the anniversary of the sinking (well, actually Monday is), and we’ll be attending the Titanic Exhibit at the Luxor, among other things.
So the first time I will be using my deck and this playlist will be at an event largely connected to Titanic. And Amazon puts an album I’m not familiar with as the artwork for each and every song on that playlist.
I have no idea what kind of algorithm Amazon uses to come up with filler artwork for songs that have no data. Seems a little odd to me that they would use something I’ve never played. And if they were going to do that, it would seem more likely they would use something they were trying to push, rather than a compilation album that came out in 1997.
Still, I can’t prove that it’s any kind of sign.
I can’t even prove that I didn’t rig this myself, figured out a way to manipulate the data and attach that artwork to every song in advance.
Not sure what I’d have to gain by doing that. It’s not earth-shaking enough to convince anyone to meet us in Las Vegas this weekend. It’s hardly the second coming of Elvis.
When you think about it, the arguments against believing in any of this stuff have about the same merit as those that are for it. You can’t prove that this is it. You can’t prove that there aren’t signs. You can’t prove that what happened to my playlist doesn’t mean anything.
My takeaway from this is pretty simple.
We aren’t alone. And we can know that by little things like this. Not some grand gesture that will alter our faith, our direction and our life’s purpose. But maybe just a little something to let you know that, even if you’re getting ready to try something you haven’t ever done before, you can do it.
Just allow yourself to consider it. Have an open mind. Look at it from my point-of-view. Listen to this song form the Replacements, and just for a few minutes, and be me. And I’ll be you.
Ken Kessler has always been interested in psychic phenomena, and like Mulder on the X-Files, wants to believe. But like most, he tends to look for, and accept, rational explanations. (More)