Think About It: Ordinary longing

The intensity of the hospice experience separates husband Paul and me from other experiences in an ethereal way. At least that is what it feels like to me. The life streaming outside our window and in daily news reports is present but somehow disconnected from our lives.

It is as if time in our tiny bubble has stood still, not moving forward or back or perhaps it is so because I want time to stand still, stay without moving for a moment.

Our 50th wedding anniversary is the week I write this column. I did not want the anniversary to come; it is too much of a demarcation. I want ordinary. I want before.

Sadly, the world outside fails to soothe my ordinary longing and more recent events are by no measure ordinary.

Life has not been ordinary for any of us since at least 2019, the last year without COVID-19. Some would say not since 2017 when Donald Trump became the duly elected President of the United States.

Rough landing

Even pre-hospice I viewed the pandemic as the universe’s cosmic two-by-four to get humankind to pay attention by throwing everything up in the air just to see where all would land.

Life as we knew it stopped. Nothing was ordinary. The smallest acts like going to buy food were filled with drama especially when the pandemic remedies became political demonstrations instead of a demonstration of public health.

Now at some distance from the worst of the pandemic and safety afforded by vaccines, we look back to pre-pandemic days and pandemic days from post-pandemic days scarred by rough landings.

We have our smooth landings. Never in recent human history had we been given the gift of time for contemplating our lives enhanced with the ability to communicate worldwide. Innovators of the entrepreneurial type leaped in with methods and business plans that we continue to use.

Not surprisingly, supply chains were disrupted. More surprising though were the many people who searched for a new and different place to land. Personnel shortages further disrupted a smooth return to prior work when people just did not return.

People analyzed their lives and where and how they spent most of their time.

Apparently, many came up with energy and support for a new vision. Return to school or apprenticeships, better pay, better hours or “something I always wanted to do” became options. Finding one’s natural fit for personal fulfillment, challenge and/or contentment may be the optimum outcome of the period when time stood still.

Yet, seeds of discontent were watered as much as seeds of creativity and change.

Turned on hate

Many observers blamed having too much down time during the pandemic for deep dives into the internet rabbit holes which in turn exposed people to various ideologies and conspiracy theories which in turn are said to have turned some who would otherwise not have been into followers of incomprehensible logic. Some explained that such meanderings brought people a sense of belonging with like-minded people. It was reported that sites existed that encouraged mass shootings to which the most recent school shooter in Uvalde belonged.

Time on our hands may have been a factor in discovery but there must be more to hold the attraction to violence to solve problems. At some point, the dissident forces perceived permission to openly use threats and brute force as their primary strategy for getting their way. The Jan. 6 insurgency was intended to support Trump’s effort to stay in office despite losing the election.

Most recently, Trump again calls upon his violent-prone followers to support him by pressuring government on his behalf, this time directed at the Department of Justice and FBI who searched his home and found government documents he claimed he did not have. It is not entirely clear what the former president wants his followers to do; although he does ask them to send him their money, which some do.

When Trump contacted the Department of Justice to warn them of a “country on fire,” we learned that he may think a threat is enough to get what he wants.

The former president and his violence-prone supporters have a symbiotic relationship in that they need each other. They openly fuel each other’s quest for power through intimidation. Anger, if not rage, is the relationship’s defining feature.

I find it stunning that the anger, rage and violence fueled by lies is being expressed under the umbrella of the Republican Party. Many Republicans have left the party, but many remain and are voting for candidates who support the lies and minimize the disruption and threats.

None of these horrors are or should become ordinary. People who prey on the fears of law-abiding people by breaking laws should be stopped and sanctioned instead of being rewarded by a major political party with front row seats to the war against civil rights, equality and democracy. We cannot let these horrors become the new ordinary.

I know I cannot have the ordinary I want in our personal life, but I can ask to return to the ordinary in which we are a civilized people.

I can still speak out for a finer way of life than what I see streaming outside my world at this moment. So can Republicans … especially those who still want to live in a civilized country with respect for law and order. They can begin by asking those who do not to reconsider and reverse their current direction that devalues peace and freedom — America.

Columnist note: Pat Coate, formally with the Gazette, was a positive and instructive influence in the writings of my columns and book. I am saddened that she is no longer with us. She loved her writing and editorial work. I will miss her and it.

Bertha Cooper, a featured columnist in 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