Ever see The Perfect Storm? Remember near the end when it’s clear the end is near and the character played by Mark Wahlberg screams into the storm over the raging sea: “Christina? Christina, can you hear me? I don’t know if you can, but I’m talking to ya, baby. Do you know how much I love you? I loved you the moment I saw you. I love you now, and I’ll love you forever. No goodbye. There’s only love, Christina. Only love.”
And then after the storm, after Bobby (Wahlberg’s character) and his colleagues have all perished, and after the memorial service, Christina recounts a recurring dream in which “all of a sudden there he is. That big smile…” And he repeats the above word for word. “And then he’s gone. But he’s always happy when he goes. So I know he’s gotta be okay. Absolutely okay.”
Sebastian Junger writes in the introduction to the book that “No dialogue was made up”. So while the film is largely true to the book the last words to leave Bobby’s mouth in the movie are fiction, but Christina’s dream not. No matter what, cool bit of antiphony, right?
The day after the last time I saw the movie, I read a note in Outside magazine about a book by Maria Coffey: Explorers of The Infinite which asked: “What is it with extreme athletes and paranormal experiences?”
Had to buy the book. Found it fascinating. Coffey punctuates her work with views and explanation of mainstream science, but it is clear that she believe that there is indeed something else going on.
During the course of reviewing historical accounts of and numerous interviews with folks living life on the edge: “I became increasingly convinced that extreme adventurers break the boundaries of what is deemed physically possible by pushing beyond human consciousness into another realm.”
She quotes Krishnamurti: “A complex mind cannot find out the truth of anything, it cannot find out what is real – and that is our difficulty. From childhood we are trained to conform, and we do not know how to reduce complexity to simplicity. It is only the very simple and direct mind that can find the real, the true”.
Coffey tells the story of a couple who followed, on foot, a caribou herd for months and hundreds of miles way up in the Yukon. Alone and vulnerable, they fell into rhythm with the pace of the life of the animals. Some weeks in, they both began having dreams. The dreams began coming true. “Heuer and Allison believe it was the rigors of the journey that led to their dreams and the other inexplicable events that began to unfold.”
The identical twin British mountaineer brothers, Adrian and Allan Burgess provide several fascinating anecdotes. In one, Adrian, who didn’t often remember dreams and hadn’t thought about a certain dead alpinist friend for quite some time was visited by her in his sleep during early stages of an attempt on Nanga Parbat. “Adrian, you’re with the wrong people, get the fuck out of there” she told him. He was shaken and did leave. Shortly thereafter the team was hit by an avalanche.
It’s not all dreams. There’s intuition. “Jung described intuition as the perception of realities that are unknown to the conscious mind.” Marlene Smith says: “Intuition is about our body translating the energy it picks up, animals listen to those physical messages, but most humans reason them away”. Among other examples, Coffey cites evidence of unusual activities of some animals and primal people that spared them death from the Asian tsunami in December 2007.
In 1985 a mixed Spanish-Polish team of alpinists attempted Nanga Parbat. They communicated in English over their two way radios. During the descent there was a terrible storm and all “felt near death”. After safely reaching base camp, they listened to the recordings of their conversations and were amazed that they were all speaking in their native languages – unintelligible to each other. Yet during the actual event they understood one other perfectly.
There are many more stories and much hypothesizing, but it’s hard at the very least to disagree with British climber John Porter who said: “I think the starting point for any sort of weirdness is life itself. If we’re here, then it seems to me that anything is possible.”
After all, without even having to wade through the several bewildering mainstream explanations of the origin (or lack thereof) of our universe, it interesting to note that physicists do agree that the universe is made up of: 4% matter as we know it; 22% dark matter that we maybe know something about; and 74% something else yet to be determined.
Now that’s weird.