(Apologies in advance. Because this post is unedited. These words will lack the telltale gloss I apply after composition. And maybe because of this, because of their tattered edges, they will be more real?)
I live in a bubble. A bubble full of fancy educations and success stories. Of fast cars and summer homes. Of big diamonds and tiny dogs. Of wealth and health.
I live in a bubble. And in this bubble, sleep is lost over private school admissions, SAT points, waist size, comment count, book sales, and broken iPhones. In this bubble, there is bartering of existential truths and bantering about insecurities.
I live in a bubble. And it is cozy and clean. It is my world. And I love it. It is what I know.
There is life outside my bubble. There are kids who are awakened in the night to the staccato of gunshots, to an avalanche of tears, to the breaking of hearts. There are kids who are given no chances, no opportunities, no snuggles. There are kids who are told they are dumb, dim-witted, good for nothing. There are kids who are lost, failed, trampled upon by broken families and systems and hopes.
I glimpsed this life and these kids at Community-Word’s Writing Our Future benefit at the National Arts Club last night. My new friend, the brilliant Michele Kotler, started Community-Word Project over ten years ago. A bit about this phenomenal organization:
Community~Word Project is dedicated to helping at-risk young people become critical and creative thinkers who are prepared for the challenges and opportunities they face in these rapidly changing times. We work in struggling communities in New York City, reaching young people in the one place they must be every day, the classroom. Community~Word Project residencies, which are at the heart of our work, transform those classrooms into learning environments where children are not taught what to think, but how to think, where young minds are not filled, but formed. Since our founding in 1997, Community~Word Project has served over 10,000 young people.
Now I have been to my fair share of charity events. But last night? It shook me. Woke me up. Made me see the outline of the bubble in which I reside.
The best part of last night was the kids. These kids stood up on stage and performed the poems they’d written. Poems about family and sky and laughter. And I sat there in the audience. With my newly highlighted hair. In my perfect black outfit. In my brand new shoes. Clutching my designer bag and iPhone.
In my bubble.
But I sat there. And I listened. To the words that carried my way. Words spoken by young voices. Exquisite words. Words that smacked of struggle and salvation. Of life and love and longing.
These words pierced the bubble. They found me. Burrowed into my consciousness. I don’t want them to leave.
As I walked outside into the April air, I saw them. The limos. Waiting for those young kids on their big night. Michele told me this would happen. That it was important that these kids felt extra special on their big night. I hope they did.
And now. I am home. In my picturesque neighborhood. Facing a busy day in my bubble. I must get Toddler to her amazing Preschool. And then take Baby to her gymnastics class. And then I must race to the Museum of Natural History for the Spring Environmental Luncheon. And then I must hightail it to my new home to accept delivery of our new kitchen. Then it’s time to prepare to for my Happier Hour.
I live in a bubble.
In this bubble, I feel fortunate. That freedom surrounds me. That opportunities hover. That I am here. Not there.
I live in a bubble
In this bubble, I feel guilty. That freedom surrounds me. That opportunities hover. That I am here. Not there.
And so gratitude and guilt mingle in me. Awareness alights. This morning. Every morning, I hope.
Because there’s one thing worse than living in a bubble: Being blind to the bubble.
Thank you, Michele. For shaking me. For waking me. For training my eye on my own exquisite bounty. For reminding me that words and sentences and thoughts are not givens. They are profound privileges bequeathed by good teachers and good people. Like you. People who honor the voices and visions beyond that bubble in which so many of us, too many of us, hide. I look forward to getting even more involved with Community-Word going forward.
- Do you live in a bubble? What does your bubble look like?
- Over the years, has anything or anyone woken you up to the reality of what you have?
- Do you ever feel guilty about your good fortune?
- Do you think existential bubbles exist because we create them and refuse to pop them? Or are they inevitable by-products of entrenched inequalities?
- Do you find that sometimes your unedited words and thoughts contain the most truth?
- Do you agree with Sarah of Momalom in her sentiment that “Life is unedited, why shouldn’t I be from time to time?”