Bursting Bubbles

I’m going to burst your bubble, people used to threaten, when they were about to destroy one of my illusions or delusions. These days, it feels like a lot of my bubbles are being burst. Riots in the US and racism close to home are destroying my illusions about civil society, decency, truth, and so forth. And I am disillusioned about the use of the word “bubble” with reference to the pandemic.

“Stick to your bubble,” advise the health authorities. But the word “bubble” has taken on a questionable reputation. There are so many alternate bubbles. One hears references to “someone in one of my bubbles” or “a person who is sort of in my bubble”. One couple told me that they were visiting an acquaintance who “thinks of us as being in her bubble.” When I told my daughter this, she said, I like to think of Judi Dench and Maggie Smith and Emma Thompson as being in my bubble — but they’re not!

Bubbles are being replicated, extended, elongated, expanded and twisted to accommodate immediate desires. They’re not working to limit contact. Let’s just burst them!

Right now, we’re supposed to remain in our households so let’s just use that word. Household. And if you stay in your household you can spend face-to-face time only with your spouse and family, housemate, or perhaps that one old person who lives alone and sees nobody but you. You can’t have others into your home. You can’t visit casual acquaintances. You can’t holiday in Mexico.

More bubbles, less troubles, said Sandro Bottega, excellent producer of exquisite grappas and a variety of fine prosecco wines (https://www.bottegaspa.com/en/the-collections/wines/prosecco-sparkling-wines) when we visited Distilleria Bottega in Conegliano many years ago. That’s still true about drinking sparkling wine, but not about your social contacts during a pandemic.

The virus numbers in Canada are increasing daily. When I first started checking the statistics on the Worldometer website https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/. Canada was 32nd out of the 221 countries listed. Now we are 22nd, and the numbers continue to be high.

Despite my bubble-bursting, I see positive signs, some things to make me hopeful. Because of tightened restrictions, the curve may be flattening in B.C. and in other parts of Canada. The vaccines are being distributed. The little bulbs are appearing. Spring is coming.

Recently, I read statistics that break down global demographics as if the world were a village of 100 people. Several such reports noted that 93 of the hundred in this global village would not reach the age of 65. The most recent report I could find indicated other ways in which I am clearly one of a very small number of very privileged villagers: https://usm.maine.edu/international/if-world-were-village-100-0. I always knew I was fortunate, but these charts further convince me.

I have much for which to be thankful. And when I become depressed about the evildoings of humankind, I remember that my friend Rachel assures me that there are more good people in the world than bad ones. My Dad used to say that, too.

They’re probably right.

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