Bubble gum, bubble baths and blowing bubbles. Floating bubbles in my fizzy drink or champagne glass. The floating spheres implying safety, fun and buoyancy. But when these bubbles suddenly pop, burst or deflate we end up in tears, in shock, and just flat. Life outside these air-pockets seems to signify an end to that fun and a sudden transition into a realm of danger and uncertainty.
At the moment we’re strongly encouraged to stay within our COVID19 bubbles. But do these protective spheres starve us of compassion? Do they mean that we can float around society without being mindful of our own behaviour?
On Tuesday morning, I decided to go for a walk with my dog along my local trail to get a coffee before work. An early start, fresh air and caffeine would be a great beginning to my day. However, my morning stroll didn’t give me the kickstart I needed. In my haste to get on the trail, I decided to cut across the inclined gravel surface. Subsequently, I unexpectedly fell.
I’m lying on the bitumen footpath. My walking frame toppled sideways – it’s left wheels spinning frantically. The spinning motion is actually quite familiar with my warped vision (nystagmus). My dog licks my arm, perplexed as to why I’m suddenly lying in a horizontal plane, and I’m feeling equally disoriented. I’m too scared to move. My leg throbs. It’s a busy trail so I’m comforted knowing that soon I’ll get some help.
However, fellow pedestrians and cyclists just float by my outstretched body in their own bubbles. I feel invisible. Two masked teenagers, engrossed in their phone, walk around me. Tandem cyclists ding their bells calling, “passing on the right” but after overtaking me, just keeppedalling.An ear-phoned lady runs past me, but her pace doesn’t slow. No one stops. They’re in their own bubbles and oblivious to my plight. I realise that I have to get up alone. I do. I peel myself off the path, right my frame and heave my sore body to sit on the curb-side bluestone block to inspect my grazed leg. I take a deep shaky sigh, brush the leaves off my jacket and out of my hair and get back on the track.
With hindsight, I’m completely shocked that I experienced this. In my case, the other passers-by on that trail’s apathy to my predicament actually meant that I just bounced up. Despite feeling hurt, I was able to not let their disregard impact me too much. However, I worry that the emotional scars would prevent many vulnerable people doing this.
Perhaps the strangers witnessing my stack justified their actions by thinking that by not assisting me they’d reduced the covid19 spread. Maybe they just didn’t see me lying across the path; or perhaps, their lack of compassion meant that I had no choice but to bounce up and keep going. But surely, even asking, ‘Are you ok?” would’ve helped.
Understandably, we are encouraged to remain at a physical distance, but does this prevent us from showing one another compassion? People are still falling over outside our own bubbles. Are our bubbles becoming so thick that we’re only aware of our own lives? Are we so fearful of popping our own bubbles that we forget other’s we may float over?
For me, savlon masked the grazes on my legs, a hot shower washed away the leaves in my hair and coffee soothed my soul. However, nothing helped treat the invisible wounds, the emotional scars. Exiting our bubbles doesn’t need to mean an end to safety or fun.
Choose to be more compassionate in your bubble and think beyond it!