I had a dream I was in a bubble. And that bubble's thin
walls somehow became strong and protected me from everything
dangerous on the outside. In it, I bounced around the world. I
saw the steppes in Europe, the jungles in South America, the
tundra in Russia, the forests of North America, and the deserts
and grasslands of Africa (to name a few).
As I travelled on the flow of the wind across the skies of a hundred countries I encountered a thousand faces. Every face of every emotion imaginable was magnified and multiplied upon the walls of the bubble. With some sort of omnipotent knowledge of my thoughts, wants, and curiosities the bubble clung to the air around those that interested me, stuck itself to the walls of buildings and pavilions where social events roared, and chased anyone that seemed to answer the questions brooding within me.
It was then that I realized the bubble couldn't keep anything out, the bubble was a ruse! The bubble was tricking me into making the entire world kin, with all of it's sadness, pain, anguish, loss, and dysfunction. Upon this realization I tried to cling to the happy faces that flashed on the inside, and focus on the happy moments that I flew by. But as the instances of negative emotions started to outnumber those happy ones, I panicked.
With a start I began to tap at the insides of my bubble, testing for weaknesses. But I soon found this to be a Sisyphean effort. With the torment of possibly having to see those faces over and over for eternity I frantically began clawing at the insides of the bubble. I soldered my eyes close with the cold realization that I could not escape the empathy I felt for the people that I saw and wailed, I threw myself at the near invisible walls that encapsulated me and prayed to anything that would listen to free me. In a last attempt at freedom I sprawled myself on the rounded floor of the bubble and made myself vulnerable to the faces around me- maybe they would set me free.
As I slowly opened my eyes I saw myself staring back. All around me my face was now projected on my cell. Soon after I made this discovery my image flashed above me, flickered, and disappeared to be replaced by a crying woman who had likely suffered the loss of a child, a wounded old man who had just come to the realization that he would not be able to use of his legs anymore, a child struggling to understand the complexity of a terminal illness he had just been diagnosed with, and the anger and deep sadness of a man who had just come home to see his wife with a once dear friend. Thousands like them flashed around me in rapid succession with images of my own face at times when I felt intense sadness sprinkled throughout the sinister slideshow.
My mind broke, I smelled the crack of madness and saw the images stop on a tanned hermaphrodite conveying an emotion I had never seen before. The corners of it's mouth curled into something of a smile, or some sort of devilish sneer. The wrinkles on the corners of it's almond eyes suggested a smile, but the glassy eyes themselves were indicative of hopelessness. The eyebrows were furrowed into deep thought, but the rolling skin of the forehead was a clear indicator of surprise. None of it made sense and all of these features were only seen when practicing extreme attentiveness on specific regions of the face.
I quit trying to examine the creature so closely and backed up to the opposite wall of the bubble to search the face as a whole for an identity. Unlike the others it did not blink, the nostrils did not flair, the ears did not wiggle, nor the lips quiver. In perfect stillness I achieved the knowledge of who I was looking at. I was looking at myself- but I was not alone.
The crying woman, the wounded old man, the confused and deeply sad young boy, and the equally confused and exponentially more angry husband. My eyes widened once again as I realized even we weren't alone, all of the faces of everyone I had seen were within this figure. The reason I wasn't able to decipher the facial expressions into one sure emotion was because it was one I was not familiar with, I was looking into the face of the world and into the face of transcendence and enlightenment.
As I made this discovery: I noticed, while looking through the semi-transparent face, the rolling waves of a lake in the distance. Our speed increased. I started thinking about everything I had seen. Faster. I saw every face again, and again made the connection between them all and the figure that refused to break eye contact with me. Faster yet. What could the bubble be telling me? We moved at a speed so great my body seemed to compress against the thin, but seemingly indestructible, wall of the bubble. My focus on the thoughts at hand broke as I noticed the beautifully under appreciated complexity of the foam rolling over and under the waves rocking against each other on the lake. Was my bubble to shrink and join theirs? I was answered, and startled, by a blink from the figure I had lost focus on. In that moment I smiled, and my bubble popped. I grew as I fell and plunged into the lukewarm lake below me. I bobbed for a moment looking at the foam around me. My eyes noticed and focused on a group of people on the shore. I smiled at them, and them back at me. I swam for shore.