What comes to your mind when you hear the word bubble gum? Does it bring you back to your childhood? Does it remind you of a child, a girl with braids may be, chewing a bubble gum gaily, just before blowing a huge bubble, which will break noisily covering her face and nose with bubble gum traces? Or it reminds you of the safe world you live in, which, when tumbles, will leave you hanging?
The image of the little girl chewing the bubble gum is certainly a positive image. It is an image that infuses hopefulness and happiness full of nostalgia for a lost childhood, forgotten somewhere in the back of our head, an age of insouciance. It doesn’t happen the same with the second image. Just close your eyes for a second and imagine it. Imagine a person in his/her thirties, in his/her forties or fifties. Imagine this person in a huge bubblegum. A bubblegum, created by him, that he names reality. It’s his own personal reality. It’s his personal world, that he has built slowly during his life and it is a world in which he feels secure.
What could possibly contain this personal bubblegum? An ideology maybe? A family that offers him comfort and affection? A job that makes him proud? A fortune? A country-house on an exotic island? Experiences and memories from travels? Experiences and memories from romances? All these together? Even though this person has already blown a huge bubblegum, he keeps on blowing it up, thinking that he still can pack more stuff in there. Thinking that if he blows it up even more, he will feel more complete in a spacious bubblegum.
Up to here, everything is all right. Isn’t this person enviable inside his spacious bubblegum? Doesn’t he feel security? Isn’t he in harmony with himself? Yes, he is in harmony as long as his bubblegum exists. He is in harmony inside his personal world, inside his personal bubblegum. He might even have blown up the bubblegum so much that he has forgotten that he lives inside one or that it has limits. If you shout to him “hey, what’s new in your bubblegum?” he won’t even understand what you are talking about and will turn his back on you.
What will happen, though, if this bubblegum breaks? What will happen if the world that our person has built, starts collapsing? How? They fire him from the job position that he occupied the last thirty years. The bank confiscates the country-house that he had bought with a loan. He looses faith in the ideology that inspired him spiritually in his entire life. His wife leaves him with a note “I never loved you”. A broken bubblegum, a personal world collapsed. And our person? Hovering, wondering if it is worth to keep on living. Hovering, with the ground shaking underneath his feet, trying to clean the traces of the broken bubblegum from inside his soul. What will he do? Will he buy a new packet of chewing gums and will try to build a new bubblegum? Or, he will understand?
It has happened to all of us, right? Just take a look back in your life and count the bubble gums that have been broken. They are just too many, aren’t they? And every time one more bubblegum was breaking, what did you do? How did you feel? It was leaving a bad taste in your mouth, wasn’t it? And it was like experiencing a small death, right?
It has also happened historically to the mankind. A good example is the fall of the actually existing socialism. When back in 1989 the Berlin Wall was collapsing and the crimes committed in the ex socialist countries were surfacing, the communists from all over the world were wondering talking to each other: “Is that possible? That the father (meaning Stalin) has committed worse crimes than the Nazis?” One more bubblegum had been broken.
There is no doubt that it is in man’s nature. It is in man’s nature to create bubble gums in order to feel secure, to reduce the vertigo that life itself causes him. However, can we manage to live without bubble gums? Can we break them consciously? And if yes what would be the effect in our psychological state? What would be the effect in the society entirely?
Let’s not talk about society. On a personal level, I believe, it would offer us more freedom. Just take a minute to think of it. To live without illusions, detached from your bubble gum. To watch it there all blown but being in a position every single moment to just stretch your finger and break it. To be inside of it and at the same time to be not. To belong and at the same time not to. To have and at the same time not caring if you don’t. A life in the thereabouts? Or a life without attachments?
But if we break the bubble gum from where will we derive satisfaction? What will feed our Ego? What will bestow meaning to our lives? What will fill us with emotions? Let’s be realists. The satisfaction derived from fleeting things will be nothing more than temporary. Isn’t this what our own experience has taught us?
Then why bother blowing another bubble gum? “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free” reads the epitaph of the Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis. Perhaps this is a free from bubble gums state of mind. A more serene state of mind. More sereneness and a state of existence more consciously present in the present. Isn’t this a state of existence that reminds of true happiness?