A friend of mine has requested that I write about bubbles. I am assuming that he was not referring to the late Michael Jackson's pet monkey. Here goes;
Bubbles. Why are they worth writing about? What possible deep inextricable connection might they have to humanity and how can this be expressed in mere words?- Letters from a limited alphabet of 26 characters strung together like loose sausages…
The best I can do is to regale you with some thoughts I had as a child as I blew bubbles. Somehow from the little handheld bubble blower stick, the air from my lungs was magically encased within perfectly formed, spherical membranes. I remember that their surface made me think of distant planets, with iridescent, colourful storms whirling and winding, almost faster than the eye could see. And what of it? Children love bubbles. They are bubbles and nothing more.
I remember rescuing one from certain peril. Catching it in the blower just before it touched a prickly hedge, and using it to create a clone of itself, sending it on a safer path. After saving it I could not bear to see it perish on the ground so I caught it yet again, and created yet another descendant. I had noticed that the once vibrant oil-slick rainbow was diminishing with each replication. How many times do we catch and reinvent ourselves in our lifetimes, in the face of imminent risk- and at what cost?
After six catches it was so weak, it seemed as though its surface particles were trying to hold together, frantically trying to maintain integrity by moving around more quickly, a grey, collapsing capsule of lung air. Then it gave up, sending a pathetic mortal blip of soap to the pavement. Perhaps we should risk the prickly hedge to retain our colour. I have seen bubbles land on worse and somehow remain intact. How much difference does it really make? To keep the bubble safe? They are all doomed to the same ultimate fate, only some never have to become forlorn, fleetingly preserved relics of their former selves.
So, when I was eight, bubbles helped me to understand death. How something can exist one moment, and not the next. I remember thinking- what is the purpose of blowing bubbles, over and over, when they all meet the same demise? I realised, there was no purpose, it was just the joy of creating something from nothing, of watching them drift onto unsuspecting picnics, onto the backs of oblivious heads and into the sky until they disappeared from sight. They were no less beautiful for being ephemeral, in fact, my attempts to prolong them was at the expense of the very essence of their existence.
This is what I have learned from bubbles. Make of it what you will.