1. Knowledge

A few years ago, I witnessed a strange phenomenon in my house. Walking down the stairs, I would sometimes sense the faint smell of smoke, as if something were burning. Trying to locate the source of that smell drove me crazy, and even though my children and wife detected it, they could never determine its source either. Most every time I walked up the stairs I was reminded of its presence, and invariably I’d spend a few minutes trying to again track down its source.


Finally, one of my children suggested that the smell might indicate the presence of something mysterious, like a ghost. “A ghost,” I thought. “That’s nuts.” I didn’t believe in ghosts. But as the days wore on and that smell kept appearing, I began to wonder myself: “Where in the hell is this smell coming from? Certainly, it couldn’t be a ghost. Could it?”


I guess my curiosity got the best of me, and I started searching Google for “ghosts” AND “smoke smell.” Surprisingly, I found a number of websites that described exactly what we were witnessing: the strange smell of smoke with no known source. And in such a case as mine, the websites seemed to suspect the presence of the paranormal, in other words, a ghost.


Okay, I must admit that my natural disbelief in ghosts and UFOs started to waiver a bit. And in fact, I even started thinking it might be sort of cool to have a ghost in our house. I was sort of getting used to the idea.


A month or so after I had originally discovered the smell, our handyman was doing some work in the house, and I told him about it. I led him up the steps, hoping that he too might witness that faint smokey scent. And, in fact, he did.


“That’s strange, isn’t it?” I said. But he didn’t say a word. Instead, he quietly turned around, slowly walked to the base of the stairs and looked back at where he’d sensed the smell. He stopped for a moment to think.


He then opened the basement door as he pulled out his screwdriver, and he started removing the switch plate for the basement’s light switch. There he found the culprit, an old frayed wire touching the wooden stud inside the wall, occasionally causing a spark to burn a spot on the wood. “You’re lucky I found it,” he said. “This little wire could’ve set your house on fire.”


Well, I never did tell my handyman that I suspected a ghost. Instead, I simply agreed with him and asked him to please fix the damned switch.


Knowledge is great, isn’t it?



Day 1 Guide


Sometimes it’s neat to contemplate the mysteries in life. But other times, it’s better to have a clear understanding of things. Start this month with an effort to understand your own emotions. Ask yourself probing questions and try to determine the nature of your own psychology.


When I go through periods of frustration or anxiety I find that it sometimes helps to write down all of the possible culprits. I know it sounds simple, but once I’ve identified the things that are making me anxious, the scope of my work has essentially been defined, and I can begin to go to work. 


It’s best to get rid of the “ghosts” and have your light switch repaired.



© 2005, Levi Hill

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