Don’t Touch My Bubble

Ray did this a fair bit last Winter. He’d run from my house yelling, “UNSAFE!!, UNSAFE!!,UNSAFE!!,UNSAFE!!,UNSAFE!!,UNSAFE!!,UNSAFE!!,UNSAFE!!,UNSAFE!!,UNSAFE!!,UNSAFE!!” There was a lot about the world he’d been sent to that made him feel unsafe. He’d do that while running to his F150, getting in, and tearing off to Toano, VA. He’d come back a few days later, hung over, out of gas, & hungry. I like Itzel’s answer. She’d listen to him scream “UNSAFE”, and hand him a hoe, “Eliminar las malas hierbas,” she’d tell him.

RayBob says I am unsafe. He worries about my past. I know too many of the wrong friends–drug addicts, drug dealers, personal chefs with clients who deny affiliation with La Familia. I did time in county jail for spousal abuse. My political views feel a bit too fascist. I am freakishly Christian. He spent most of January writing to his parole officer begging to be given another human as minder. He’s not technically in compliance working at Itzel’s farm. He barely escaped a DUI because the blood test couldn’t recognize his alien chemistry nor Gavilite as an intoxicant. He lives unsafe expecting us to protect him from the things he fears and his choices.

He is right in one respect. Where he does things to cause himself grief I won’t protect him. I believe in natural consequences. The world works because pain is a possible outcome. He comes from a hermitage. He had it good. A few knocks are probably a good thing. As is cleaning the pig sty.

God made an infinite world. Anything can happen. Many things have happened in the 5,000 years of known history. Some of those things have killed people.  This week, because at least 26 people were killed by suicide bombers, the voices in the popular press that are sure the apocalypse is nigh will once again have their day.

I’m not stupid. I pay attention to the news too. Yesterday I said that with each of these tragedies there is a tomorrow. Some survive. Life continues changed.

What Ray wants, a bubble in which he is protected from anything that might trigger him, is impossible. In an infinite world a possible income is an event, maybe more than one, that will be triggering. Ray’s torments won’t go away as hard as he tries to drink them into oblivion and isolate himself in the outhouse, smartphone blasting XHMT, Merida.

I’m that guy that will touch your bubble. This pisses off RayBob. I know that the best way to foster change is to disrupt your bubble, to make you unsafe. The early stages of recovery are brutal. Addicts protest mightily until they’ve been in treatment long enough to realize that they can’t keep being an addict and live. A proven way to treat phobias is to identify the thing feared, get help deciding if doing the feared thing is truly unsafe, and with appropriate help, do it. Rather than try to isolate ourselves, maintain the bubble around us, burst that bubble.

It’s counter-intuitive. If you cower, headphones jammed into your ears, whiskey bottle in hand, your sight picture improves for the devil. You become easier to hit. Your phobias illuminate you as a target. Safe spaces are inherently unsafe because they are a cluster of fearful, angry people who have made it easy for their enemies to find them. It’s as if all the wild turkeys had done the hunters a favor and gathered in one particular forest with Glympse SMS messages declaring their location.

My small bit of defiance is to ignore the terrorists and keep doing me. Itzel is smart in asking RayBob to weed the garden when he begins to feel afraid. I found some money last night while cleaning my desk. I am now the proud owner of a pastry scraper, a box grater, and two egg rings. My shopping trip will go unnoticed. It isn’t remarkable. It is something we all do as needed. But I mention it because people died at the hands of terrorists and the rest of us still have lives to live.

.We have succeeded building a near perfect first world. My purchases today were at a store with so much crap it covers the walls. It’s just one store. That particular store is one of a chain of stores that also have the same incredible inventory. I think nothing of going into a supermarket and finding everything my heart desires. Walmart defies description for someone used to a hunter/gatherer life. RayBob got ten feet inside the Walmart on Sheila Way and ran screaming from it. The decadent wealth on display in that store was too much for him. We are unbelievably prosperous, healthy, comfortable.

Ray’s family is a dynasty of monks who head up the state religion. His way of rebelling was to attempt to accomplish the seven deadly sins, causing him to know personally what escalating negative consequences are. Still, he always had a seat in the dining hall. He was never refused his stipend for his personal needs. The monastery was safe. It isolated him from the drifting political winds and intrigue of the capital.

Earth scares him. He’ll learn, though, what I mean by achieving boring. Brussels isn’t normal. Shit happens, but not every day. Most every day is more dirty pig pens and chicken coops needing to be moved. Most every day is more dishes to wash and laundry to fold. The immortal rhythm of daily life thrums on while the odd syncopated event gets everyone excited. Earth is neither benevolent nor unkind. It is infinite, technicolor, complicated, capable of hurricanes and warm spring days like today. This first world place is healing because all the historic struggles and tensions of survival are largely gone to leave in their place the battles of the mind. We have time to be phobic and heal.

RayBob may not understand the merciful act performed for him by sending him here. He’ll learn, though. I’ve seen it in fellow cab drivers who come here from India. It’ll happen for RayBob as well.