Once upon a time, there was a very sad and lonely woman. She had a husband, two beautiful children, and people she knew were friends to keep her company. She wasn’t lonely because she was alone. She was lonely because she was enclosed in a clear bouncy ball.
She couldn’t hug anyone. She couldn’t nurture anyone. She couldn’t do many things from her enclosure except complete her chores and watch the events that happened around her.
Over time, even her children knew she was of no help to them. She couldn’t kiss their boo-boos, and she couldn’t tuck them in at night. Their world became a lonely place too.
Of course, she was of no real use to her husband either. Their relationship suffered. There was no romance, no light touches to reassure one another. He began to see her as only the bouncy ball. And what good was a bouncy ball to him?
The woman became sadder. The children became lonelier, and the man pretended she wasn’t inside the bouncy ball. In fact, he pretended the bouncy ball was an inconvenient object left out in the open. When he walked through the home she had made, he would kick the bouncy ball out of the way like it was a child’s toy that he had outgrown. He pretended not to see her cry. He pretended her voice could not penetrate the plastic walls of the bouncy ball.
“He’s right,” she thought. I am useless to everyone; what good could I possibly be to him, my children, or my friends? What use is a crying lonely woman? What use is a bouncy ball to anyone?
Ignored by her husband except for the frequent naughty word that came along with a dismissive kick, her children began to question why she was there, too. Her children looked elsewhere for nurturing. Her friends tired of hearing only her tears. The woman found it very difficult to think of herself as anything but a ball.
One morning when her husband kicked the ball away from his path on his way to work, the woman simply sat down. She didn’t look at anything, She didn’t think of anything. She just sat there.
That afternoon, her husband kicked the ball out of his path upon his return from work. The woman bounced around in the ball, but it didn’t hurt. She discovered that by hugging her knees, she could easily tuck in her head when she was kicked about, and it didn’t hurt anymore.
She spent days marveling at how her family’s attitude improved when she sat quietly in the ball, thinking nothing.
She watched her husband horseplay with her children. She watched the children go to school and come home in the evening. She watched everyone smiling and watching movies after dinner. She watched them enjoy themselves, keeping her silence.
Of course, in order for her family to function this way, she had to find a way to do their laundry. She had to cook their dinners. She did see to their cleaning. She did go to the market to ensure their home was supplied with the things that made them happy. She didn’t know where the energy or the means came from to complete these tasks, but when she was alone during the day, she got them done.
But when her chores were complete, she’d sit in the ball quietly because that was the only way to remain unhurt.
Thinking nothing. Doing nothing. Feeling nothing. Being nothing.
One night, her bouncy ball popped. She couldn’t find the hole. The plastic slowly lost its air. It shriveled and shrank. Each breath inhaled pulled the plastic tighter around her face. She couldn’t breathe anymore.
The next morning, the husband ranted about the unrecognized mess someone had left on the floor. He put the old toy into the garbage for the trashmen to carry away.
The next morning, the children had no socks for school. The husband loudly complained to someone who wasn’t there to hear.
The second morning, there was no breakfast. That night there was no dinner.
One of the children asked the husband why there was nothing to wear or to eat. The husband said, “Your mother must have ran off in that fine bouncy ball I gave her. She never appreciated anything.”