Once a bubble took itself very seriously. Like all bubbles, this one was in reality little more than a taut shimmer over emptiness. And as other bubbles, when it wasn’t being blown willy-nilly here and there, it drifted about on its own in seemingly aimless wanderings that appeared to come to much the same end. Nevertheless, the bubble maintained a determined sense of self-worth in the conviction that its inner void was given shape, and ultimately meaning, by its unique role in the grander scheme of things. For without the bubble, what would emptiness within ever amount to but just that: inner emptiness? Indistinguishable, in fact, from the nothingness spreading out in every direction from the bubble as though in thoroughgoing disregard of the need for distinctions that lend clarity to life day in and day out. For where there is difference, the bubble reasoned, there are contrasts to be made, and with contrast comes the separation necessary for assessments of significance, obviously: the ability to declare with absolute confidence at any given moment, “This is this! That is that!” Absent bubbles like itself, in other words, what significance would any of existence have? How would anything identify anything else against which to define itself and thus attain full self-awareness? Anything that was outside it, unknown, formless, and therefore a testament to the settled merit of its own private void by comparison? How could an otherwise incalculable “dark beyond” be understood if not for its relationship to luminous bubbles? Bubbles, in sum, held existential doubt at bay. And a perilous vigil that was. It went without saying that any moment might be a bubble’s last, as a loud pop or a plaintive squeak or a mere fading whiffle announced an end to the sheltering round that had shaped absence into presence and presence into a multitude of forms, visions, hopes, fears, joys, sorrows, attachments, bitter losses—all that which, for good or for ill, demonstrated one’s ability to tell what one was from what one was not—in short, all that which turned the insubstantial into something of singular importance. With these as the dimensions of a bubble’s very sense of being, was it any surprise this one took itself so very seriously?
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans