I'm goofy with excitement, because I'm about launch a brand new word which, if you let it, will change the way you look at everything forever. In honor of this, I'm asking you to imagine marching bands and pep squads with pom-poms and maybe even a couple clowns and -- why not? -- a monkey in a hat, all waiting to parade around and throw confetti when I fling my new word into the universe for the first time ever.
Okay. Here goes. The word is...
I should never have said confetti. I hate confetti. You mean to tell me there are people whose job it is to cut colored paper into tiny bits? Who's going to clean this mess up?
Anyway, the new word, Voocule, is pronounced Voo-kyule. Voo rhymes with boo. Kule rhymes with mule. I'm hoping that the word will become as much a part of our vocabulary as the word "soul." Like the soul, the Voocule is not something that can be actually seen or picked up or even located. Therefore, it may require some mental gymnastics to understand. And so I'm going to ask you to load up on caffeine or do whatever you have to do to get your attention-paying mechanism into the peak performance mode, because while the Voocule has firmer edges than the soul, it still can make you want to say, "Screw this, nap-time." So when you're ready, let's move on to the defining properties of this exciting, life-altering concept.
Okay. Here we go. Every living thing has its own Voocule. Plants included. Think of a Voocule as a bubble. Your bubble of life. That's correct. Your bubble of life.
What is inside of your Voocule, this bubble of yours? The totality of you, that's what. Every experience you have ever had, every thought, every dream, everything remembered, everything forgotten, everything hidden in the dark of your subconscious. When your eyes are open, everything you see is the outer limits of your Voocule at that moment. When your eyes are closed, the screen upon which your imaginings are projected is the outer limits of your Voocule.
And now we come to the heart of the matter, the fun and exciting part. Get this: You and only you can see what is inside of your bubble. Which means that you cannot see what is inside of anyone else's bubble.
Let me rephrase this: No living thing can see what is outside of its own Voocule.
Let me rephrase it again: All living things exist in separate Voocules, an infinite and miraculous flotilla of wondrous magical bubbles that can enter each other but which must always remain separate.
Let me rephrase it one last time: Every living thing is hermetically sealed in its own Voocule, isolated and forever alone.
Hmmm. I'm sensing that the fabulousness of my ground-breaking concept might not, at the moment, be making itself obvious. And so, let's sit you on a porch swing on a clear and bright summer day with someone you love. It may seem, as you sit there gazing out, that you both, as you shift your eyes here and there, are seeing the same things. Well, yes, you are seeing the same objects -- trees, grass, the sky, passing cars, the tire swing -- but here's the exciting part:
The two of you are seeing all of these things completely differently!
I don't mean that the difference is the angle at which you are seeing them. It goes way beyond that. Both of you are seeing everything from inside of your individual Voocules, through the filters of your particular life. And no two Voocules share identical versions of the same thing.
Okay. Let's try this: You and your loved one are sitting on that porch swing. Now your loved one looks up at a passing cloud. You look up at the cloud too. Your loved one sees in the cloud the shape of a bunny rabbit. You see in the cloud the shape of two sets of beautiful young breasts resting on the head of a gargoyle.
A fly lands on your arm. You both look to it. Your loved one looks to the delicate details of the feet of the fly gripping your arm, the mystery of its huge eyes, the opaque structure of its wings, which change significantly when you smack the fucker and finger-snap it off of your arm.
A car pulls into your driveway. You and your loved one watch as someone in a dark suit and a briefcase gets out and begins walking toward you. Your loved one thinks, "Nice suit." You think, "Uh-oh. What'd I do?"
And on and on. The point is, no two living things ever -- ever -- react with their senses to the same thing the same way. Because everything is received through the prism of your history.
Here's why this matters: If you think of yourself as sharing a single, huge bubble with every other living thing, and the whole bunch of you seeing the same things in pretty much the same way, then you may begin to feel a smallness, an insignificance in your greatest efforts, which in turn may lead you to believe that you are indeed small, that you are in fact insignificant. And once you accept this as so, you may begin, without even realizing it, to build a structure of defense and resentment. And if this happens, you will sink into the horrible, every day, useless muck of you vs. them.
If, however, you think of all living things as organisms encapsulated in their own private bubble, their hermetically sealed Voocule, you may feel a softening. A greater sense of a shared struggle to be understood. A better understanding of a common loneliness. A recognition that we all bang our fists upon our own edges, wanting more. That we are all desperate for a closeness we can never attain.
And this is at the heart of what people mean when they say that life is hard. This is at the heart of what people mean when they say that love is tough. Because getting people to truly understand you is, in my opinion, impossible. Not because you choose to hide things. But because there is no window into this Voocule of yours where someone can cup his hands around his eyes and suddenly see everything the way you see everything. No one can see what you see the way you see it.
Can not happen.
And so we resort mostly to clunky words. Expressing anything with words is like trying to make lace with anchor chain.
And so, anyone, this softening I'm talking about, this softening is the trick. A delight in the notion that we're all trapped in this beauty, trapped in this hell. A relief that comes from the idea that there's nothing to be done about all those billions of other bubbles except to look at them with affection, receive them, give them a good chance, maybe lean out and touch fingertips as you pass by. Because inside of every Voocule is a version of the world unique to the inhabitant, a take on life that exists absolutely, positively nowhere else.
In a Voocule, we're all prisoners. We're all emperors. It's up to you.
Hello out there!