Maybe I committed some heinous act deserving of painful punishment, for I felt myself burning. My feet felt as if I had run across burning coals in Hades, but there were no coals — only scorching sand. I was on an island that didn’t exist on any map. I was miles away from the nearest collection of human beings or human things. I thought I was alone on this desert island, yet I discovered that wasn’t true.
I opened my mind and took a good, long look at the thoughts bubbling within. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself wandering through a personal library of towering mahogany bookcases that were crammed full of glittering video games. I found myself wishing I had Santa’s bottomless bag to haul away all the cases. Alas, I’m too honest to do that and can only play one game at a time. I began to wonder what other thoughts, perhaps more positive ones, might be brewing.
A second thought bubbled up to the surface. I peered through the wet border to get a closer look, and I saw myself playing a game. But I could also switch between the two bubbles: sauntering through the library or tapping buttons on a controller until sweat poured down my face. In this bubble, the joy of playing in the moment had replaced the oppressive heat of the day. Surely, I thought, my mind could not expand any more.
That’s when a final bubble popped up as I was enjoying the experience of watching myself play. In the final bubble, I took a deep breath, cleared all of the fog from my head and put the game back on the library shelf. I sat down, closed my eyes and meditated. My lips turned from an indifferent horizontal line to a ruddy rainbow. That was my final bubbly thought.
I noticed, though, that the experience didn’t end there: I could toggle between these three bubbles on demand. I also noticed each bubble stacked inside the previous one, like a matryoshka doll set. These cognitive observations exhausted me. I stepped back from my thoughts for a second and zoned out of focus.
I found myself back on the island’s scorching sand, sitting and smiling. I didn’t notice the heat anymore.