As a kid, Pete thought his father was hard and dictatorial. His tender mother was no longer near him. Even the memories of her had faded away. Whenever he thought about her, a sad mist of nostalgia invaded him. She had left him a silk scarf, and on the days when he felt too nostalgic, he would wrap his neck in the scarf and breathe in the sweet honeysuckle fragrance the scarf still exuded.
His stepmother was a mean surly woman, who radiated sourness and meanness in the atmosphere. “No jam on your toast, please. You’ll ruin us,” she would exclaim at breakfast. Then poor Pete ducked his head, pulled his legs towards his chest, wrapped himself in a big bubble nobody could see, and fed on its honeysuckle scent.
The bubble was comfortable. He felt good in it, away from rebukes and shouting. Progressively, he got used to making big soap bubbles in which he could hide. When he was inside, nothing would affect him, and to others he became invisible. Sometimes, as his father read his newspaper, his stepmother ironed, and his brothers played, he could cross the living room without even being noticed.
At other times, when a little neighbor came and asked if he could play with him, his parents would invariably say, “Oh! He is in his bubble.” Pete grew up, and so did his bubbles.
Pete got married and went on making bubbles in which he felt safe. That is the way he went through life. His gentle wife, Adina, could blow on the bubbles with her heart and make them fly up in the sky, towards the sun. It was beautiful, but at times it could be stressful if she lost track of her Pete.
They had two lovely listless daughters. Every evening, Adina read them bedtime stories. It was such a kind-hearted family. Pete built a bubble for each of his kids in which they could protect themselves. Then he built a large one for the whole family, so that they lived a quiet life, in perfect harmony. No raised voices, no disputes. There were moments when they did have to leave the big safe family bubble. Then the two daughters would look at the world with their big innocent wide-opened eyes.
Do you know how to ‘dance your bubble’?
In the family, dancing the bubble was a source of merriment. To dance your bubble, you wiggled to a lively swinging music, rubbing your bubble against other bubbles. It created unusual sheeny iridescences that burst out like fireworks. Or, you placed your bubble quite apart and jumped high up while waving and making funny faces.
The bubble family loved taking photos of these happy moments. They called them ‘toto-portraits’. They found it fun, but no one understood why.
They all felt so well protected by their bubbles, but they could also become like a prison. Sometimes, the bubbles were sulky and a deafening silence of taboos then took place in the living room. Then, after a while, some of the bubble walls would become as hard as glass, but the person within could not notice since it remained transparent. Well, sort of transparent at least, just like windowpanes. You could look at the world through them and find it dirty, because you forgot about window cleaning. And later still, after a good many years, you could even forget that there is a world outside.
Also, the bubble walls would begin to color. Then everything in the outer world would be seen in the color of the bubble. One person could see the world red while another saw it blue. But in fact the world is multi-colored. Now, where did the colors come from? They came from the fixed ideas they had about things, and from their emotions too.
Brenda, the youngest daughter, was a placid adventurer, who could also be an envious and jealous person. Her desires and dreams had colored her bubble red and brown, something she had not realized at the beginning. The colors had become more visible. Brenda saw everything through red-coloured lenses. Then the shades became more clouded and she could see less and less well. She just felt like lazing on the sofa watching the TV and sipping a soda. She could feel something was wrong, but what was it? She understood nothing of the world around her. Still worse, she could no longer hear she was being called for lunch, or for shopping or cooking. She felt as if she was behind a distorting screen watching the people outside grin at her.
She started reflecting on a way to leave her bubble, but her laziness would soon take over and she would go back to her sofa and soda, listening to a sweet pink music.
Pete also could see there was something wrong: too many thoughts going in circles within his bubble, swirling faster and faster, blurring everything and creating mists. He went to see an eye specialist who said he could do nothing. Soon, he could hear only a garish music around him instead of the sweet silence of the mountain lakes.
His bubble had become so heavy that it stuck to the ground now.
One day, he met a lady who sold bubbly balloons. She was a short Chinese lady who walked fast and laughed loud. Her feet hardly touched the ground. She did not walk, she practically flew, carried away by her bubbly balloons, which made her bubble with laughter. She held her iridescent balloons on the end of multicolored strings. Pete gaped at seeing such lightness and enjoyment. He asked her how she could fill her bubbles with such bright colors. The little street-seller said, “The energy from my heart does it. It changes them into bubbly balloons I can carry within and beside me. As well, they carry me high up in the sky and far into my heart. Then I give them to whomever wants them to do whatever they like.”
“Please dear lady, will you give me one of your bubbly balloons?”
“Why should I when you’ve already got one?”
“Yes, but yours are so light and beautiful, whereas my bubble stays low down and can’t take off.”
“You can make it lighter and turn it into a beautiful bubbly balloon. It all depends on your thoughts and the feelings in your heart. If your thoughts are heavy, your bubble will be heavy. If they are light, then your bubble will become increasingly light and you will be able to fly and experience the joy open spaces bring.”
That was an answer! He thought of his gentle spouse Adina, who probably knew the trick. He immediately got to work and practiced every day having light thoughts. He began to feel his heart and found in it the light shades that stood behind his bubble mists. The mists faded away, and it became easy for him to let go of the thoughts in his heart. He was so happy that he started making bigger lighter bubbles in his own bubble.
To be continued