The Good Kind of Bubble

“This person lives in a bubble,” we say. Usually with a bit of disdain. Echo chambers, social spheres, living in one’s own world — these phrases suggest naiveté, bias, and a disconnect from reality. Sometimes, that’s exactly what they lead to, but what if, every once in a while, it’s also exactly what we need?

When I’m sick in bed with my nose blocked and my head ringing, the music coming out of my headphones sounds dampened. Filtered. As if the songs had to pass through a layer of cotton before making it into my ears. It’s not what I’m used to, but it’s interesting. I can notice different aspects of the music than I usually do. The bubble shifts my focus, and when I re-emerge, I’ve learned something new.

Illness is a particular kind of bubble, but of course, the cotton padding extends well beyond one’s ears. When you don’t feel well, it’s easier to shut out thoughts about work, push to-do lists and social obligations aside, and focus solely on recovery. That, too, comes with lessons. Perhaps some of the things you deemed important before your ailment turn out to be hardly relevant at all. Maybe, you’ll never return to them and be better off for it.

Not all bubbles are bad bubbles. The right escape taken at the right time — and for the right duration — can make us a better player at the game we were perhaps unsure we should play. Wrap yourself in cotton when you need to — just make sure you come back enlightened to wherever you’re truly needed.