The 6th sense (or something like it)

When I was young, preadolescent, I took an interest in the paranormal and parapsychology. I liked books or shows on poltergeists, ghosts, unexplained phenomena, crop circles (I still love me some crop circles), and especially anything to do with mental or psychological capacities.

The guy who could bend spoons with his mind was a celebrity, but I wasn’t too keen on that. What was I going to do with a bunch of bent spoons? Besides, we had no trouble getting plenty of our own misshapen cutlery courtesy of the kitchen sink garbage disposal. No, what I really wanted to have was ESP.

I’m not entirely sure how much of my ideas about the 6th sense came from fiction vs nonfiction, but it definitely seemed desirable. People with ESP – none of whom I actually knew – struck me as the human equivalent of unicorns, mystical and mysterious. As a kid, I just wanted to “magically” know things.

Today, I think of it a bit differently. I gather actually having ESP is not necessarily such a delight. Its possessors, from what I’ve heard, report getting lots of chaotic messages in their heads and being unable to shut off things they’d rather not know. That’s a different kettle of neurons and not what I imagined as a child.

Some advocates claim we ALL have degrees of ESP and it’s a matter of tapping into and honing it. I am sorry but no way. I meet people on a regular basis who appear to be operating at a level barely above that of a domestic dog or cat; people who frighten me in that they possess driver’s licenses, have children, or own firearms, none of which I’d trust them with. The idea they’d have extra sensory perception lurking somewhere in their gray matter is whoppingly doubtful.

I don’t think I have ESP. However, what I do have is perception. I did not always know this, or rather, I did not know what to call it, or that the trait was in any way unusual or a type of skill. I couldn’t say whether there’s a bit of irony in that I do have a semblance of the thing I wished for as a child. Maybe it’s just that I was already on to something back then, if only unconsciously. Don’t know. I can tell you I very much like knowing things which was my desire. (Even when, at my own level, I know things I’d rather not, or more to the point, I know things I wish weren’t so.)

Mostly, I am able to laser in on situations and people and read them. I often know how people are feeling, even when they haven’t said. I don’t see “auras” but I certainly pick up on energy, whatever that nameless thing is that people exude, for better and worse. I don’t have “visions” but sometimes specific information or insights appear fully formed in my mind. I never doubt them when that happens. That said, I’m not a savant and I miss the mark sometimes with my “take” on things but I’m right more than I’m wrong. And — as I’ve said once before, I’ve never been wrong when I had a “bad feeling” about somebody.

Not everybody enjoys my perception. People with things to hide don’t like someone popping along and reading them. I get that. Or I do now. I keep my mouth shut more often. As opposed to when I was younger, when I think I sometimes showed off, like a party trick, telling people things about themselves. A very close friend once observed, somewhat accusingly (I thought), “You see too much.” I guess what I’m trying to say is that these days I don’t force it on anybody, and further, a lot of what I perceive, I keep to myself, unless someone wants to know. Even then, I’ve learned to be a bit more judicious about it.

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15 thoughts on “The 6th sense (or something like it)

  1. mariezhuikov

    In my novels, I have a character who has a “peace radar.” She’s able to tell when people are at peace with themselves or if they are hiding something. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on those she is closest to. Do you find it more difficult to perceive as you become emotionally closer to people?

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Oooh, that is interesting. I do know what you mean about the voyeuristic aspect, seeing too much of other people’s business. There’s an “exposing” aspect to it.

      Glad you weighed in.

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  2. John Callaghan

    I understand what you are talking about. If you are a careful reader of human behaviour, look for patterns, motivation, read, read, and read some more, a certain level of perception can be achieved. I love seeing people as puzzles (that sounds cold) in that I enjoy being able to figure out what they have done, what they are doing, and what they will do. But sometimes I’ll get this wrong and and I am so floored I laugh and laugh, like this is a wonderful surprise. I’ve also gotten not too bad at figuring out the plot twists in most shows and movies. But not always.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I definitely agree with your first line and it applies to me too (the reading, the watching). There’s another level that works independently of analytical thought, where it’s more like “lightbulb” moments and I simply know things. However, that happens more rarely.

      I don’t think the puzzle thing sounds cold. It’s not like you do it so you can strip them of their life savings or otherwise bring their little house down. (Right?)

      People continue to surprise me too, like WHOA, I didn’t see that coming! Or: I didn’t know he/she had it in them.

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  3. battlewagon13

    I actually believe in all things paranormal – including Bigfoot (not necessarily paranormal – but you never know). There is just too much evidence to overlook for the existence. I’ve never experienced anything like that, but my wife has several times and it’s kinda amazing.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Had you not said this, I’d probably have taken you for a skeptic. I keep an open, not gullible mind; there are simply so many things we don’t know. I’d be curious what you’re saying your wife has experienced.

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      1. battlewagon13

        She has had at least three experiences. The first was a few years after her father died. She was about 10, woke up, and her dad who died was standing at the foot of the bed smiling. Then when I knew her her dad’s mother died (her grandmother) and that night the grandmother and her dad appeared at the foot of the bed. Then just last year she was working in our very old church by herself and sitting in the back pew working on some stereo cables. She clearly heard the front door open (which was in eyesight), then footsteps coming towards her and then he sound of the pew creaking next to her like someone was sitting down. My wife is 100% level headed and ready to be a skeptic, but those things are just too weird to ignore.

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        1. writerinsoul Post author

          Thanks for sharing this. There’s a consistency to her experiences too. I always hope nobody shows up at the foot of my bed, as I think I’d be totally freaked, not comforted. Fortunately (for me) my experiences have mostly been milder, like dreams or more subtle happenings.

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