Today my friend OsoDelSol left for a two-month money-making venture in a far-away state. This was hard for me for several reasons, not the least of which being that she took with her the Bubble of Irresponsibility. I would like to take a moment to detail the theory concerning the Bubble of Irresponsibility.
Before addressing the Bubble, I must first address stress. There are many sources of stress, but the kind with which we will be dealing is produced by the stress organ, or the conscience. The function of the consience is to monitor and stimulate the behavior of an individual, so that the individual will behave in a way that is socially (having to do with society), personally (having to do with the individual), and morally (having to do with principles of right and wrong)responsible. The conscience attempts to control this behavior by issuing statements regarding certain choices. For example, if an individual decides to have ice cream for dinner, this decision alerts the part of the conscience that monitors behavior affecting the individual. The conscience will then issue a statement saying, "No. Ice cream is not a responsible choice. I should have broiled chicken and broccoli." This is known as a Should-Response. Should-Responses can be very beneficial to an individual, but when a conscience is allowed to become overactive, it can issues too many Should-Responses, cluttering the mind and creating stress.
Another source of stress generated by the conscience is the Nagging Worry. The Nagging Worry is produced when the conscience attempts to deal with environmental disturbances by issuing frequent statements in an attempt to address the cause of the disturbance. For example, when an individual is looking for a job, the conscience responds to the situation by issuing the following statement several times per day: "I have to get a job soon." Depending on the severity of the disturbance and the activity of the conscience, it might also issue supplementary statements such as "Rent is due in two weeks" or "Mom will be so disappointed if I end up homeless." These statements accumulate, building stress.
The Bubble of Irresponsibility acts as a shield against such Statements of Conscience. The Bubble is generated when stress, having been built up over a period of time, reaches abnormally high levels and then suddenly vanishes, creating a stress vacuum. This might occur, for example, after the end of a school term, when the final exams and seminar papers that have consumed so much thought and energy and happiness over the past several weeks are finished, being replaced other, more pleasuable activities, like watching television.
When an individual is generating a Bubble of Irresponsibility, most, if not all Statements of Conscience vanish immediately into the stress vacuum, leaving the mind clear and more capable of enjoying periods of relaxation. The Bubble of Irresponsibility covers all areas governed by the conscience, so that even if the vacuum was generated by a reduction of stress in one area of life, such as school, it extends to other areas of life, such as financial stability. Thus, the Bubble of Irresponsibility generated from the end of a school term often leads to inadvisable and impractical clothing or entertainment purchases.
One of the most fascinating characteristics of Bubbles of Irresponsibility is the way the effect others. Though an individual's Bubble is not visible to friends and neighbors, when in close proximity with the Bubble, people often experience a vicarious stresslessness and a heightened ability to enjoy life. These effects can be very beneficial to an individual who is in a high-stress period in their lives, as it allows them a sort of mini-vacation.
This is where Oso's departure becomes a problem for me. Oso is not in school at the moment, although she recently found out that she received surprisingly high grades during the summer term. Furthermore, she recently obtained a pretty well-paying job that offers the promise of reduced financial strain. These factors combined have generated a powerful Bubble of Irresponsibility. My classes, on the other hand, are beginning to kick into high gear, and Oso, in moving out of state has removed her Bubble of Irresponsibility and all of the relief it has lately provided from my extremely annoying overactive conscience.
Lest I sound parasitic, let me assure you that Oso and I have established a mutally beneficial arrangement. Since we are in different programs at school, our stress times are conveniently staggered, so that when one of us hits a stress time, the other hits a down time. Furthermore, since our school responsibilities are different, our Statements of Conscience often do not apply to the other person, and we minimize scholastic stress by not spreading it to each other. (This is why no matter what field you are in, as a graduate student it is essential to have friend outside of your department.) Thus we have managed to establish a joint Bubble of Irresponsibility that is very nearly permanent. Each of us, in term, acts as a beacon of sanity to others within our respective programs, spreading a little bit of Irresponsibility to our hyper-focused classmates. We do not use our Bubbles selfishly, hoarding our enjoyment of reality television and celebrity gossip. Rather, we share our pleasure with others. We make our tiny little academic communities better, happier places. I think we should be applauded, and given the GPA points we may have lost when we chose to watch Project Runway instead of working on our presentations.