Bad Bubbles

My father used to be a smoker. He quit when I was a teenager and this certainly added years to his life. But when I was a little kid and he smoked regularly, there was a trick he used to do for the kids involving bubbles.

Most kids are familiar with bubbles – little wands, puddles of soapy goo, whimsical floating orbs of scintillating colors. But if you have lungs full of smoke when you use the little wand to blow the bubble, it looks rad as heck. You end up with a bubble filled with smoke, contained and isolated. The air around it is clear as the smoke dissipates almost instantly, but it continues to swirl within.

I was thinking about this today because I heard someone talking about a problem that’s “everywhere.” But it’s a problem I’ve never encountered once, and nor has anyone else I know expressed exposure to this problem. Since the person in question lives a very different life than I do, my conclusion is that the problem isn’t really “everywhere” at all. It’s just in their bubble.

It might be pervasive within their bubble, but that’s not the same thing. The smoke you think is “everywhere” might just be in a few square inches of space; it just happens that you’re in that space, too.

But all bubbles pop. All worlds eventually mix with the worlds around them. The smoke will dissipate and you’ll see that what you thought was so horrible was actually just an artifact of one tiny corner of space and time.

You can hasten this realization, by getting out of your own bubble a little. There’s nothing wrong with making your own little beautiful corner of the world and living in it. But if you start to think there’s something wrong with the world, make sure it’s not just something wrong with your corner – because that’s a much easier fix.


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