Walking home from the local purveyor of alcoholic delicacies yesterday, I met a bubble. I stepped aside to let it pass and the ping-pong ball sized orb nodded courteously. Entranced, I watched it dance around a pear tree heavy with white blossoms as if paying homage to its creator, before continuing on its way up East 11th Avenue. Smitten, obviously, I chased the little translucent thing up the hill only to stop and gasp as it drew dangerously close to the branches of a flowering cherry tree. Certain a collision was about to take place, I turned away. I couldn’t stand the thought of it bursting. I wanted to remember it floating onwards forever! After a half-second or so, I looked back and searched the sky. It was gone. Downcast, I closed my eyes, and there it was, perfect and whole in my mind’s eye, sailing along on the breeze.
With my somewhat remarkable albeit random encounter over, I made my way back down the hill becoming increasingly giddy with each step I took. What a sight I had seen! It was a gift, to be sure, but who had bestowed it on me? There were no children blowing into soapy wands nearby, so I stood still and listened for the sounds of laughter and awe that are required when making bubbles. I heard nothing.
I will never know the origins of that iridescent globe. It doesn’t matter, either, because it’s not important to know where it came from. It’s only important to know that I saw it and let my spirit soar with it for a brief but magical moment. In these strange and unpredictable times, crossing paths with anything so exquisitely fragile, so innocent and pure, is nothing short of divine. And, rare experiences can transform us.
I am thankful for that bubble, and for the opportunity it gave me to be present as child and adult at the same time. It was rather wondrous, if slightly surreal. The child wanted to catch that bubble, hold it tight. The adult knew, all to well, that catching it meant its destruction.
Legend has it that bubbles are souls. Of course, they are not. They are produced when soap catches a breath of air. However, in olden times, when women washed clothing out of doors, I bet the air around them shimmered. And perhaps, when a sphere ventured far afield, a passer-by, catching sight of it, might happily imagine it the soul of a loved one travelling to Heaven. Such a comforting thought.
My wish today is that we allow life to flow without our interference. We destroy a great many things that way. Desperate to hold on to that joyful feeling felt when we first set eyes on something spectacular, we reach out for it, gather it to us, even cage it. But that reaction is the child within us, not the adult. The adult knows those feelings cannot be duplicated; that they are fleeting. The adult knows those feelings can only be recalled, not by holding on, but by letting go.