All right, so: Before I get into the real meat of this essay, I feel I should state very clearly up front that I'm going to be talking about some pretty weird stuff in it. There are going to be metaphysical concepts and lots of similar oddities that I freely admit I cannot "prove" one way or the other, at least in the sense of something which could be reproduced over and over in a controlled laboratory setting. What I DO have to offer are my own experiences: Things that I've felt, sensed, and had happen to me time and time again in my own life, plus the conclusions I've reached about how and why those events took place after a great deal of thought, study, and soul-searching. Believe me, I didn't wake up one morning and decide to just accept any of this stuff on a whim; it's taken 20+ years and a LOT of effort to arrive at my current point of view, and I have no doubt that my understanding will continue to change and evolve as I live, grow, and have new experiences. So I want to stress that what I'll be presenting in the following paragraphs is my own PERSONAL truth, not an absolute, and the fact that I hold this particular opinion doesn't automatically invalidate anyone else's point of view. If your truths happen to be different from mine, that is perfectly okay; we all have to decide for ourselves just what we do and don't believe, and I am quite well aware that these are some very strange and perhaps uncomfortable ideas for many people to consider even as possibilties.
If you choose to read what I have to say, then, all I ask is that you keep an open mind about it, and remember that I'm just trying to state my own position for informational purposes here. My aim is to give folks some kind of reference point to help them make better sense out of my other writings; I'm not interested in getting into a lot of arguments and altercations, and if you're really that opposed to these kinds of ideas, it's not my job to try and convince you otherwise. You don't have to like what I have to say, or agree with it, and if you want to think I'm crazy, foolish, delusional, or what have you, then by all means, go right ahead. I fully respect your right to hold an opinion or belief which differs from mine--but I also expect to be given that same respect right back in turn. There are plenty of places on the internet to engage in ideological flamewars if that happens to be your thing, but C&S is not one of them; this is MY site and I have final say in what goes on here. And I WILL NOT tolerate ridicule, abuse, or having a lot of religious invective heaped on me for my views, especially in public areas like the guestbook; I don't really want to have to delete anyone's feedback, but I can and will do that and more if someone chooses to be hateful. I might also point out that not once in the whole of human history has anyone willingly changed their innermost convictions just because some stranger opined that those convictions were stupid, or called their holder unpleasant names, or told them that they were headed straight to hell, so let's all just try to be grown-up about the whole thing, yes?
Anyway, having made my position on that point clear, I think the best way to begin is with the statement that everything in the universe is made of energy--yes, EVERYTHING. Any physicist will tell you that the basic building block of all matter, the atom, contains a large proportion of empty space, with only a few extremely tiny particles whizzing around at something like 2200 kilometers per second. And considering that even the largest atoms are only about 0.5 nanometers across, we're talking about a mind-boggling amount of continuous motion around and through a very, very small area. It's the rapid and confined motion of those elemental particles which gives an atom its structure and makes it appear to have a measurable volume, but this is actually something of an illusion, a little like how the blades of a ceiling fan seem to form a solid disk when the fan is running at high speed. And if you try to probe even deeper, into what those particles inside an atom are themselves made up of, you very quickly get down to a level where the laws of quantum physics take over, and things start to behave in really bizarre ways that just don't correspond to anything in our general human experience. You really can't even use the word "particles" to describe the stuff that exists at a quantum level, or not if you want to be at least semi-accurate about it. I think many people tend to try and envision the subatomic world as a sort of cosmic pool table, with little billiard-ball-like entities rolling around and bouncing off one another, but this really doesn't describe the situation well; indeed, the very word "quantum" refers to a discrete little bundle of energy, rather than any kind of solid material entity. A quantum also can't be broken down into any smaller unit; this is the very bottom of the existential scale, and each quantum is so incredibly tiny that it doesn't actually have a measurable "size" in the normal sense of the word. Indeed, even when they get together in groups to form things like quarks and gluons, they're still almost unimaginably small, and capable of all sorts of strange and impossible-sounding things like existing in several different locations at once.
You thus have to switch to terms like "forces" and "energy fields" to even begin to approximate what's really going on at a quantum level, and it's this very, VERY odd and poorly understood interaction between tiny, volume-less bits of energy which underpins the entire material universe. (Believe me, unless you're actually a theoretical physicist yourself, ANY reading you might do about quantum physics is almost guaranteed to make your brain hurt, not to mention send you off wondering whether the term "reality" actually means anything or not!) And in a similar vein, according to the latest astrophysics research, the mass of all the observable matter in the universe does not add up to anywhere near what our best mathematical theories about the Big Bang tell us should be present. Some of this "missing mass" may take the form of so-called "dark matter," which at the moment cannot be directly observed even with the aid of our most sophisticated technology; its presence can only be inferred from the gravitational effect it exerts on something we CAN see, namely the light emitted by distant stars and galaxies. Likewise, the observable fact that the universe is expanding, and at a rate which is increasing rather than slowing down, mathematically suggests the presence of a quite substantial volume of "dark energy," which we ALSO can't yet directly observe. Indeed, by some estimates, the universe is about 20% dark matter and nearly 70% dark energy, which means that all of what we humans here on Earth are aware of is only a measly 10% of everything that's actually out there.
The point I'm trying to make, then, is that the universe is a VERY large and complicated place, and our understanding of its true nature and workings is really still in its infancy. Now, don't get me wrong; I have the utmost respect for science and those who study its various disciplines, and I have no doubt that they'll continue to make exciting discoveries and come up with new and more comprehensive theories about why different natural processes work they way they do. The fact remains, however, that even the best and most brilliant scientists are working with information that is ultimately incomplete. There are many, many things that science alone cannot (yet) explain, prove, or predict, and just because you can't see, touch, or measure something with your limited human senses doesn't NECESSARILY mean that it does not, in fact, exist.
So if we take this one basic concept--that everything in the universe is made of energy--as our premise, then naturally we have to view living creatures within the same framework as inanimate objects. In terms of human beings specifically, I think most people would agree at least partly with the statement that we are made up of much more than just the simple matter of our physical bodies. Thoughts, emotions, consciousness, and the like are all difficult to define solely in material terms; sure, you can point to electrical and biochemical activity in the brain and so forth, but in my view, those things still don't convey anywhere near the whole story. Remember, just because you can't see something doesn't necessarily mean it's a mere figment of the imagination, and many different cultures and philosophical schools going back to the dawn of history have espoused the idea that we all have an "energy body" as well as a physical one. There are many excellent writings available from loads of different authors if you're interested in the finer details of the idea, and thus I won't try to re-invent that particular wheel here. I'll just say, instead, that I think there's a great deal of truth to the idea, and from all the reading I myself have done, the human energetic body is a complex, multi-layered beast which contains a multitude of different types of information. It forms the core essence of what makes you, YOU--that is, your energy body is a fundamental part of your identity as a unique being, distinct from all others. Certain portions of it have been said to be the seat of the soul and/or individual consciousness, while other sections house things like thoughts, emotions, beliefs, hopes and dreams, your sense of self-worth, and so on.
It's important to keep in mind, too, that this energetic body doesn't exist in isolation. It corresponds to and coincides with your material body to some degree--your physical form could even be described as the "base layer" in a way, since it too is ultimately made of energy, and certain types of healing modalities like Reiki and acupuncture take deliberate advantage of that particular interconnection. The energy body does extend quite a bit past the skin, though; we each have a kind of spherical or egg-shaped energy field around us, popularly called an "aura." This field is actually quite an important part of how you interact with your environment and other people--whether we realize it or not, we are all constantly taking in and giving out information through our personal energy fields. And when conscious awareness of this ongoing energy exchange DOES come into play in a given individual, that's what gives rise to intuitive or "psychic" abilities.
Such abilities take a number of different forms, and they can actually arise at any point in a person's life, for a wide assortment of reasons. They can even be deliberately acquired in some cases, with enough effort and the right training, but oftentimes certain people are simply born with more highly developed psychic senses than others. And despite all the common cultural and religious teachings which decry such abilities as dangerous, immoral, or just plain impossible, it's really no different--and certainly no more evil or "unnatural"--to be born with a psychic gift than with an innate knack for painting, playing a sport, or doing long division in your head. Nonetheless, the biases persist, and believe me, it's not "cool" or even all that easy to grow up as a natural-born psychic. I myself was lucky in a lot of ways; I was blessed with parents who preferred to work around me and my quirks rather than simply browbeat me for having them in the first place, for one thing, and my ability was subtle enough in its effects that I didn't have to endure a lot of really terrifying or traumatic early experiences because of it. I don't recall ever attracting negative attention from outside the family, either, or at least none that was specifically due to my psychic gift--but on the other hand, that fact itself illustrates just how complex the situation really was. It's true that I didn't have to deal with at least some of the negative and unpleasant things which might (alas) be termed the "norm" for psychically able kids, but there were still a LOT of uncertain and uncomfortable "gray areas" in my life, in large part because I didn't realize for a lot of years that I was doing (or being) anything out of the ordinary.
Now, I know that statement probably sounds peculiar even above the subject matter just in general, but it's the honest truth. Looking back from my current, adult perspective, it's easy to see that I've been able to sense and do certain things for as far back as my memory will stretch, and if you add in some of the stories my parents are wont to tell about me from when I was a baby and a toddler, then I think it's pretty reasonable to assume that yes, I was indeed born this way. What I was NOT, however, for a goodly chunk of my life was well-informed. Psychic abilities and the people who have them are perhaps a bit more socially acceptable these days than they have been at many times in the past, but when I was growing up, it wasn't something that anyone ever discussed or really even thought about as far as I could tell. So while I've known for a long, long time that I was somehow fundamentally different from just about everyone else I ever came into contact with, the exact nature of that difference was pretty murky. I didn't have enough information to even begin to explain why I was the way I was, even just within my own mind--and when something remains so completely incomprehensible for that long, eventually you more or less stop looking for an explanation, and start writing it off with statements like, "Well, I guess I'm just weird."
I was probably in my late teens, then, before it started to dawn on me in even a vague fashion that other people didn't and couldn't perceive the world in the same way that I did. Remember, I was BORN with my gift; I'd never known any other way of being, and to me it was entirely normal to be aware of certain types of subtle energy in a few specific ways. So it simply didn't occur to me for a long while that this might be what made me so different from others, and again, the underlying nature of the awareness was itself quite subtle, enough that it was rare for anyone else to notice or comment on it directly in the course of day-to-day life. I mean, in some cases, it's QUITE obvious that a child is psychically sensitive: Perhaps they talk about hearing sourceless voices, or make predictions that come true, or have "imaginary friends" who turn out to be ghosts. In my own case, though, I usually couldn't even have put the things I was aware of into words, and so there was really nothing to report to anyone else, or that would have drawn a lot of obvious outside attention. I pretty much just sensed this stuff within myself, and then acted (or reacted) accordingly--even if those actions and reactions didn't always make much sense to anyone around me.
Once I DID finally realize that something unusual was going on, though, I started asking questions such as: What IS this strange ability I have? How exactly does it work? And why do I have it when no one else around me seems to? Well, as you can probably imagine, finding the answers to those questions has taken me on a long, complicated, and often confusing journey, and one that's far from being over. I have a lot left to learn, even if my understanding of myself and my own abiltities has already improved many times over from where it started out. Most of the details would take far too long to tell, and are really beyond the scope of this one essay in any case, but to distill the whole thing down to a single absolute essential, it turns out that I am a clairsentient, also known as an empath.
Now, I know that statement probably doesn't mean a lot to most people just in and of itself, so let me explain a little further. There is a very good and comprehensive description of empaths and empathic ability in this article (note: external link, will open in a new window). The extra-short and simple version, though, is that I pick up information from other people's energy bodies, primarily the layers that deal with emotion. The word "clairsentient" is derived from French and translates to something like "clear feeling" or "clear awareness," which I think rather nicely encapsulates the basic essence of the ability itself, even if there are a few other "extras" tossed in for flavor in my own case. I can't "read minds" in the way I think most people would use the phrase, and to be honest I'm rather glad of it; I have more than enough to deal with in my own life without being privy to everyone else's deep, dark secrets! I am quite highly aware of other people's emotions and moods, though, to the point that it can be difficult to distinguish which parts of what I'm feeling at a given moment are actually "mine" and which ones have come in from an outside source. I also tend to pick up on intentions and motivations--I generally know pretty quickly if I'm being lied to, for example--and the other major factor is an awareness of what I've come to refer to as "energy signatures."
I admit I've never encountered an exact description of this in any of the reading I've done, so I don't know if there's a more common/accepted term for it or not. The basic idea, though, is that everyone "feels" different and distinct to me on an energetic level. That is, there is a quality about the energy body of every human being on this planet which is as unique to that individual as a fingerprint, and so can serve as a marker of identity. I tend to sense these energy signatures most strongly from people I've spent a lot of time around, and a positive, mutually affectionate relationship strengthens the connection even further. The really interesting thing, though, is that my awareness of people in this way doesn't seem to be limited by the usual material constraints of time and space. I can pick up an energy signature just as easily from text-based communication on the internet as I can from face-to-face interaction, for example--indeed, I've recently come to realize that I identify my online friends at least as much by their personal energy as by their email addresses or usernames. It's very hard to describe just what distinguishes one person from another for me in an energetic sense; there's a clear and obvious difference between, say, my husband and my brother, but trying to put that difference into words is a bit like trying to describe the difference between yellow and blue to someone who's been blind since birth. If I think hard enough about it, I can sometimes come up with a way to describe what another person's energy "feels like," but even my best efforts usually come out sounding rather pale and simplistic compared to the full richness and complexity of what I actually sense.
And having said all that, I expect you're wondering now just what this has to do with Jimi, and why I stuck an essay about it here in his Memorial Wing rather than somewhere else on the site. Well, it's really quite simple: As the alternate title implies, he was a human being with an energetic body and signature just like everyone else. Which in turn means that I was aware of him on that kind of level as well as the more "usual," material ones--and I have to say, above and beyond anything else, he "felt" really, REALLY good. Again, any attempt to put this kind of thing into words is always going to fall far short of reality, but trust me when I say that Jimi was truly something extra, extra-special. When people talk about him, especially those who knew him well, a few of the points that nearly always get a mention are his passion for music, his sense of humor, how big his heart was, and how he basically loved everybody with very little regard for things like age, gender, race, creed, and socio-economic status that most people tend to view as barriers to real connection and communication. And I always have to just nod my head in complete and immediate agreement whenever I read or hear such descriptions, because even if I didn't know him very well in the usual sense of the word, I could still FEEL all of those qualities in him--every last one. I think we've probably all encountered people at one time or another who could put up a good front but were really very different sorts underneath their charming masks, and take it from me: Jimi was the complete antithesis of that. Nothing about him was an act or an illusion; subtle energy will give you the truth about someone each and every time, and I can say without even an ounce of hesitation that the warmth and humility and the big heart were all 100% real, and absolutely fundamental parts of who he was as a person.
Now, don't misunderstand me--I'm not saying that Jimi was perfect, or that he didn't have his own set of flaws and weaknesses and insecurities, just like all the rest of us. But I can tell you for sure that, if he was only human, he was at least a human of the very best and nicest sort. Remember, I don't need to be physically near someone to pick up on their energy, and his was present in pretty much anything he ever did or was involved with, from studio recordings and video footage to photographs, print interviews, and social media posts. I admit I didn't realize this on a conscious level for a good share of the ten years I spent as his fan and supporter; it wasn't until Glyndon in 2010 that I even started to put the pieces together, and it's only been in the last eighteen months or so that a true understanding of it really crystallized in my mind. In hindsight, though, it explains SO much, both in terms of the depth of my involvement in the fandom in general and why I was always so willing to travel to shows, even in spite all the stress and hassle that those trips tended to cause me. Listening to Jimi's music and following his career was more than enough to expose me to that warm, exceptionally pleasant sense of "him" on a more or less daily basis--and believe me, for an empath, it doesn't take long to develop a deep and abiding affection for someone under those kind of circumstances, even if you've never met or interacted with that other person face-to-face.
So after I WAS actually able to meet Jimi in person, and drink in the feel of him firsthand... well. I was always hesitant to express this while he was alive, just because I didn't want to make him uncomfortable or come off sounding like some psycho-stalker type; heaven knows he had to deal with such things all too often just as it was, and I never, ever wanted to intrude where I might not be welcome or ask anything of him that he wasn't 100% willing to give. Circumstances being what they are now, though, I feel the time has come to finally affirm, out loud and to the world at large, just what I've always felt: I loved Jimi, with all my heart and right down to the center of my bones. He touched my life and my soul in ways that literally no one and nothing else ever has; the way I felt about him was so very much more than a simple crush or a star/fan thing, even if in the past I generally tried to dismiss it as one or the other of those in public. Now, again, don't get me wrong--of course the music was and still is a huge part of the general equation, so to speak, and I will be the very first to admit that I had a fine appreciation for him on a physical level as well. (I mean, come on; he was gorgeous and sweet all in one package, and what woman wouldn't find him attractive, unless her tastes just didn't run to men in the first place?) When you really get down to brass tacks, though, it was HIM I cared about, not just what he looked like or the work he did as a musician and performer. It was the human being behind the handsome face and the beautiful voice which truly drew me in and kept me coming back for more, and everything else was just the icing on an already delectable cake. I didn't need to "possess" him in some way to feel like this about him, and I'd have gone right on caring even if I'd never gone to all those shows and gotten all those hugs and so forth. It was wonderful that I DID, of course, I'm just saying that my affection for him didn't depend on that sort of thing. It made me quite ridiculously happy just to know that there was someone like him somewhere in the world, and I'd have loved him in the exact same way even if the only contact we ever had with one another was on an energetic level, "across the miles."
So while he and I were never close friends in the usual sense of the word, and our relationship simply didn't fit into any of the "normal" categories, that energetic component nonetheless made it feel very, very special. Truly, Jimi meant the world to me--I've often said that I adored him right out to the moon and back, and the sentiment has not changed even an ounce since his so-untimely death. Losing him was one of the most painful and difficult experiences I've had to endure in all my life, more so even than many deaths within my own family. I've come to realize, too, during all the weeks and months which have passed since he first left us, that what made it so hard for me to even think about listening to any of his music for a while was pretty much a direct consequence of my own empathic ability. Those songs were one of the best and most readily available means I had to connect to his energy for a good share of the time, and the mere thought of having them feel suddenly flat and "empty" where I'd always been able to sense his own special warmth before... well, I couldn't do that, I just couldn't. Losing him had been miles beyond bad even as it was, and adding that on top of everything else would have only rubbed salt into a still-bleeding wound.
As time has gone on, though, and life found an assortment of ways to nudge me back toward both the music and many other Jimi-related things, I've discovered to my great relief that all those initial fears were unfounded. I mean, I won't try to claim that the first few times I worked up the gumption to start listening to his work again after a good six months away weren't a little wobbly, or that there weren't a few more tears shed in the process. But in the end, I'm happy to report that I can still feel that distinct energy of "Jimi" in his music, and it's as clear to my empathic senses now as it ever was while he was alive. Which in my view is the surest proof I could ever ask for that death is not the end, for anyone; the universe IS made of energy, after all, and our physical bodies really are only one aspect of a much larger and more complex whole. So while Jimi may no longer be in the form that all of us who knew and loved him were used to, and it's still a sad fact that there won't be any more new albums, tour dates, or opportunities to get hugs at shows, I truly don't believe that he's just plain and simply gone. If his signature energy is still present in the music, then the core essence of what made him who he was could not have just evaporated into nothing when he left this plane of existence. Whatever the exact nature of the afterlife is, and whatever name you want to call it by--Heaven, Summerland, the Other Side, or any of the many other variations on the theme--Jimi seems to have arrived there quite safely, and I have no doubt is enjoying his rewards for being such a sweet guy during his life. I find that a very comforting thought, even when I can't help but miss his physical presence here on Earth--and I hope at least a few of you out there reading will, too.