The Sixth Sense

Ever since I was a boy I have dreamed from time to time of having a powerful sixth sense. To be able to bend a spoon with my mind as easily as I could with my hands, to hear another’s thoughts as clearly as I heard a songbird, to see ghosts like strangers arrived late to a party and then speak to the dead as regularly as I could a loved one on the telephone – well, to put it bluntly, how awesome would that be? Though I have a sporadically attuned intuition when it comes to what other people are thinking, I have failed to levitate so much as a feather, and the dead, if they speak to me, do so only in my dreams. I am limited, it would seem, by my five pedestrian senses. Yet even our five senses are not quite what we think they are. Take sight. As I understand it, our eyes don’t do the seeing. Rather, our eyes merely transfer visual information to the brain, which then translates this information into what it is we are “seeing.” So too with what we hear, feel, taste, and smell. It is almost as if the world outside of us really exists inside of us, for that is where we create it for ourselves.

Yet there is one other kind of information our brain translates for us: thought. Thought, it seems to me, is our sixth sense. Thought is our connection to life through a means other than our first five senses. What’s more, thought comes to us as ceaselessly as the visual, sensual, and auditory world. And while a writer writes about the physical world his characters inhabit, the stories he writes arrive first in thought.

Whenever I hear mediums describe their communication with the dead, I am reminded of my efforts to find a story. A medium’s search for a deceased’s name reminds me of my search for a character’s name. In fact, I once heard a medium explain without any apology that her communication with the dead is no different than imagination.

So perhaps my lifelong wish was granted after all. Perhaps I have in fact spent my entire life honing my sixth sense. And the truth is, I don’t really want to speak to the dead. I’ll join them by and by, but in the meantime I am happy enough to speak to the living about this world we are imagining together.

Remember to catch Bill every Tuesday at 2:00 PM PST/5:00 EST on his live Blogtalk Radio program Author2Author!

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