Specters are all around us.
Maybe they aren’t ghosts, as such, although I don’t want to claim I know for sure. But we are all haunted in our own ways.
Even something as simple as the words we use are haunted – there are connotations to our words and phrases, specters of our past reading and conversations. I first learned the word “galvanized” while reading a Star Trek novel in middle school – and so Commander Riker and that word are forever linked in my mind.
Our fandoms form plenty of specters for us in general, actually – the filmy, rainbow images of a childhood spent playing with Star Wars toys informs how we perceive new movies now. My dual love for Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” and CS Lewis’ “Out of the Silent Planet” have for me given the entire planet of Mars specters galore: nice ones, scary ones, wise ones. Whenever I hear “Mars,” there they are in my mind.
The classic “Ghostbusters” is itself haunted by memories of childhood fun, of being scared in libraries and scandalized by that one ghost who seduces Stanz. Perhaps that’s why the all-female Ghostbusters reboot was reviled by many – they were haunted by the past. But these ghosts also give us such happiness when we see them resurrected in Stranger Things 2… who doesn’t love those kids in their uniforms, and completely agree that no one would want to play the one that isn’t a scientist?
Sometimes ghosts take on personas. Star Trek was always good at giving the characters’ ghosts human forms – like when Riker, trapped in an insane asylum, sees his crewmates as manifestations of his own feelings in a past experience. It’s a “reflection therapy” designed to “treat” him, but they end up giving him messages his unconscious mind knows are crucial, like his friends actually would.
Later in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sisko encounters the wormhole aliens, or prophets of Bajor, in the form of people he knew, like his deceased wife Jennifer. They speak with the sort of insights he might have expected from those real people, giving not only great character exposition but sharing with us the common truth that people from the past do sometimes seem to speak to us.
The most important insight from this alternate Jennifer is that mentally he still “exists” in the time when he lost his wife. Physically he is no longer on that starship, but mentally he never got beyond it. He is haunted by the memory so much that he can’t move forward – another truth universal to all of us, regardless of whether or not we are in a wormhole.
We can learn from our specters, too, if we take the time to think about them. What’s haunting you, and why? What past places and images color your present? What people’s voices linger even when they do not?
Some of these specters you’ll need to deal with and try to trap, perhaps with a proton pack, but not by crossing the streams. That would be bad.
Others will be like Slimer in the cartoon series; weird but kind of fun too, so you’ll let them fly around the firehouse.
In any case, facing up to the fact that we have our specters is important – and not only because we can understand ourselves better. We might just assume others have the same ghosts, but they in fact have their own. You probably didn’t picture Commander Riker every time you heard the word “galvanized” – even if I always have and might use that word with him in mind. Just because you are haunted by the manliness of the old “Ghostbusters” doesn’t mean a new generation needs to be.
We use yoga to remember that by getting into Revolved Lunge pose. It’s like a lunge, when legs spread one in front of the other, and the back heel up. But you are twisted so you are looking around – possibly acknowledging the ghosts all around you.
Just don’t get terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought. If the ionization-rate is constant for all ectoplasmic entities, you can really bust some heads… in a spiritual sense, of course.