Think About It: A Halloween story

This is the story of the near-death experience of Penelope Peace. You have read about the experiences of people who have lived to tell the story of hovering over their own body watching what was transpiring around it. Some report being attracted by a bright but soothing light beckoning them into the warm comfort of everlasting peace.

This experience was not Penelope’s first near-death experience. In fact, if there was such a thing, she would be the first honoree in the Near-death Hall of Fame. I did hear there is talk of establishing such a hall of fame in Mississippi except the proposal has not been well received by many who are more interested in bringing back the Civil War of the mid-nineteenth century.

War would be a close contender to having the first honor. People have little chance of such an honor since they are more likely to opt for the comfort of everlasting peace after one or two near-death experiences.

Besides, the award idea has been criticized since Peace does not have a body but is a substantive phenomenon in that it has taken considerable effort for Peace to survive which she has done for many millennia.

Award nonsense was not in Peace’s thinking as she watched the activity below from her free-floating sense of being unencumbered by attachment. She knew she had work to do and little time to do it in before she must decide — drift into the light or return to her substantive being.

A warning

Peace’s pathetic remains looked like scattered wreckage from an unnatural disaster. Many people were around but no one seemed to have interest in breathing life into Penelope Peace. As far as she could see — which was considerable from her free-floating all-knowing position — no one was thinking of Peace let alone paying attention to her dying substance.

Peace could not help but feel a bit forlorn. She used to think she was sought after by most people. Peace was her purpose in life. If she were unable to find those who embraced peace, she would fail her reason for being.

The last many years had been difficult for the quest for peace and Peace felt close to death now.

Still, Peace was not worried or frantic after all Peace could not feel those emotions and be Peace. She does though recognize her absence as fraught with danger and decided she must make one more attempt for peace before she enters the soothing light.

If she fails, Peace will die and not return for a millennium if ever since life without peace or any efforts to have peace would inevitably lead to destruction of all there was.

The challenge

Peace surveyed the groups surrounding her pathetic remains now slowly turning into shadows. None seemed to be aware of her presence or having any intention of stepping in to give her life.

She passed over the Proud Reapers and Grim Keepers causing a rustle in the air that made several members sneeze. She could see that the each wore an overstuffed bullet protector on their bodies. Most appeared to be between 40 and 65 years old, except a small group of early 20-somethings who looked very angry.

Acting as excited as if they were about to receive great wealth, they joyously anticipated the fight and killing they saw coming. Indeed, their path would lead them to stomp over her remaining remains. Peace was antithetical to their purpose.

Peace moved on.

A large boisterous group was caucusing with their backs to Peace. They spoke loudly of a return to the past that anointed certain people with the power to exclude, even oppress other people and their work, especially if it disagreed with their view of life. Their lust for power had turned to explosive rhetoric intended to destroy the “others” who had gained some ground in establishing themselves in influential positions. Their loud voice called for persecutions of those that challenged the norms they dictated as the only norms — religious, political and cultural. Their working motto “our way is the only way” has no place in Peace.

Peace moved on.

Peace flutter over a small group of expensively dressed business leaders, mostly men, who spoke dispassionately about the other groups. They talked among themselves about the strategic business value of chaos in government and to some extent cultural upheaval if they did not have to take a side that reduced profits. “Gridlock is good” they said only within their group. Ignoring the common good is contrary to Peace in which all are beneficiaries.

Peace moved on.

By far the largest group was the bystanders’ group, those who heard the loud groups and were aware of a withering Peace. Most were concerned, some were fearful, and all wished someone would make it better. Demonstrations, letters to the editor, column writing, and talking about it with like-minded friends made no difference but oddly as if not involved, they went on as if it did.

Peace moved on, now feeling the sorrow of hopelessness.

Then Peace saw a new group forming and coming toward her. The group coming together were young, some with children and all seeing a long future ahead. They said they knew not what but something different had to happen. They knew they wanted change which included Peace in their future.

Did they have enough grit to counter the apathy and the forces against Peace and enough vision to inspire others to follow? Would they breathe life into Peace? Beats me.

Bertha Cooper, an award-winning featured columnist with the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation and it the author of the award-winning “Women, We’re Only Old Once.” Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at