Outside The Bubble

The world looks vastly different outside the bubble.

Gone were the subliminal and overt messages about what a socially acceptable life is supposed to look like. Truthfully, once you you leave it behind, it can be a bit shocking to realize just how pervasive our social conditioning is. I was able to escape the noisy echo chamber that surrounds us during the longest getaway since graduating from university — 21 days visiting seven countries. With just minutes available online each day (mostly to scan email for anything urgent) I was untethered, present and able to live fully in the moment.

It felt positively sublime.

Unplugged and away from the routine I had some anxiety, at first, about conversations I was missing, Tweets and FB updates that went unread. After a few days, short of posting a photo here or there from a smartphone, I realized how liberating it is not to worry about documenting every moment, or riding shotgun on everyone else’s life, in real time.

Each day brought discovery and learning and a healthy dose of experiencing life on the edge of my comfort zone. Around each unfamiliar corner we found new sights, new smells, new sensations and new conversations — often in languages we didn’t understand. Mostly, we allowed our minds and bodies to wander into new territory.

Along the way, we were also fortunate to see and visit with friends. While none of us are raising children we each have in our lives relationships with a wide range of people — of all ages — which gave our conversations a kaleidoscope effect. Together we have a special view of the world. We also share a “twinship,” a concept that Dr. Marni Rosner explained as “relationships that provide the feeling that there are others like me in the world, someone who understands me.” We were fully at ease with each other, connecting deeply in a way that allowed us to appreciate the richness of our lives and the shaping forces that made us who we are.

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We leisurely explored indoor and outdoor museums, strolled narrow cobble-stoned streets, drank cappuccinos for breakfast, beer at lunch and wine at dinner. We climbed up a large mountain and through Roman and Greek ruins. We laughed and delighted in teaching each other new expressions. We walked softly lit streets at night and watched the moon rise.

On the days we traveled, just the two of us, we marveled at the scenery, drank in the ancient history and wondered about the ways civilization has progressed — and regressed — over the centuries. It became abundantly clear that societies have undergone many shifts in values, behavior and beliefs. We can best appreciate how narrowly are views are shaped when we get added context, if we move from place to place and across time.

While on the road, we were (gratefully) outside the incessant reach of the Mother’s Day marketeers. It came and went as if it were any other day and that felt not only novel, but peaceful. Klara, a fellow blogger and I, were together on the second Sunday in May and raised a glass to all of the women we know who nurture. It was only upon my return that I had a chance to read a piece in Psychology Today called, We Are All Mothers At Times With or Without Children (props to Christina Gombar for sharing).

I was reminded of the power of this idea when I learned about the passing of a courageous, insightful and inspiring fellow blogger, Melissa of MLO Knitting, who nurtured me and many others along the way when we needed it most. Rest in peace, MLO. Your kind and generous spirit will be with us always. Pax

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Editor’s Note: Karen Malone Wright of The NotMom.com is conducting a survey and welcomes participation of those who are women without children. I’ll be profiling her and her pioneering work next month.