Friday, June 12, 2020

The Bubble Conundrum - I Can't Breathe

I often feel like I live in a bubble. 
Self employed, working alone, still feeling new to the area. 
A feeling exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
I appreciate that self quarantining is a privilege.  
As a survivor of multiple viral pneumonia bouts, I have known the inability to traverse a room because I couldn't get enough oxygen in my lungs to propel me to walk.
So I have a healthy respect, nay fear, of contracting the virus. 
So I stay home. Stay in my bubble. 
I want to breathe.
These bubbles were painted on top of a covered up failed painting. In frustration I added "I can't breathe".

Adding "I can't breathe" again obscured the original message but did not stand out.
I am ridiculed by some for staying put most days.
My mental response is "you do you, but don't come visit me please".
Recognizing that people you care about don't respect your beliefs is a conundrum. Upon further reflection though I realize it not so much I need a shared belief system with my loved ones. 
After all, I have friends that don't share my religious beliefs, or parenting methods, or dietary regimes and that is of little consequence to me. 
I have realized what is important to me is that good, old fashioned word, morals.
Morals defined as not society's ethics, but that internal conviction of right and wrong.
In the past, I have tried to express myself without offending others. 
Don't rock the boat. Be nice. Keep the peace. 
That bubble has burst as I watch the world shatter.
Writing "I can't breathe" in loud red paint however is instantly legible and obscures further what is underneath.
"I can't breathe." George Floyd cried as his breath was stolen from him. The nation watched, stunned.
Most are horrified. Others can't seem to understand the collective outrage. I watch the commentary. So divisive. So US vs. THEM. So hateful. 

"There is no corona virus because I don't know anyone personally who is sick." 
"There is no racism because I am not mean to people that don't look like me." 
It's all a hoax or a scam or a plot or a conspiracy so they proffer.  
Everyone seemingly in their own bubble. 
I don't understand.  What is the thought process of people so willing to ignore others truths because it doesn't fit in with their experience? Why do I care if I offend them?

Covering the messages with bubbles obscures the words.
My sister said to me yesterday "Just because I need to lose a few pounds doesn't mean there is no need for food banks".  Being over six feet tall means I myself can't walk into the average mall in America and buy a pair of pants or shoes that fit. Does that mean I don't exist?  
Silly examples but they follow the same logic. 
Such fragile reasoning. 
Fragile as a bubble.
Staying in your bubble keeps you from being exposed to The Other.
I sit here and worry about friends stricken by the corona virus. 
I sit here and fret about sick friends I can't visit, relatives I haven't seen since lock down began. Graduations and wedding postponed, life on hold. I worry most about my children 
and the world I have brought them into. 
A world where a man can't go for a jog without being shot.
I sit here with my own truths and my lack of knowledge about the causes of such hate and systemic oppression in the world. It's overwhelming. 
I find this hard to do alone. I tend to find truth in relationships. 
Whether friend, colleague, neighbor, or relative all relationships take time and community. 
I am deprived of this community right now. 
The occasional Zoom call, while helpful, is not replacing old relationships and it is certainly not helping find new ones to help me get out of my bubble of ignorance.
I pray for this pandemic to end.
I pray for this hate to end.
Popping these bubbles expose you to others experiences.
So I read.
 I listen.
 I reach out. 
 For George.
 For those suffering injustice. 
I try to understand.
I try to breathe.

"The Bubble Conundrum" 36x48 by Theresa Wells Stifel
I am finding Rachel Cargle's Do The Work Course a helpful place to begin to learn to see with new eyes. Especially Day 4. Taking Implicit Bias surveys from Harvard were eye opening.

If you have a favorite read, let me know. 
Thanks for reading these words.