As I start to write this post I realize that I've already written at least two posts involving the local shopping mall....

Hey, I've never said I have an exciting life, and I've never said I'm all that thrilled with my fairly limited - shall I say - "horizons".

In defense of my own image, for whatever that's worth; I've written online for years now; and I've written about all kinds of things in life other than shopping malls and supermarkets. It's just that on Bubblews that whole "write-your-world" thing has me a little baffled about what I should be writing. I mean, what "world" exactly does Bubblews mean? My personal little world in which some things go on that I either wouldn't post online or else don't think is worth sharing? The whole, big, world that I share with others but that I do consider, at least to some extent, "mine as well theirs"? My "inner world"? Believe me, if I hope to keep my relationships reasonably healthy and whatever friends I happen to have friends I'd better keep a lot of "inner-world" stuff to myself.

In any case, so often if I really try to "write MY world", rather than write what I feel like writing regardless of whose world it is I'm writing about; I always come down to the same reality: "My" world, at least the part of it that I'll post online, is pretty much a matter of a handful of close people in my life, including my grown kids. I'm not going to write much about them because I don't have any business doing that.

Also included are some long-lost cousins and a few friends that I don't get to spend time with, or even talk to, very often. Come to think, maybe they aren't as much in my "world" as I automatically tend to think they are, regardless of the fact that I really do care about these people.

As for the rest of my world: People I'd call business acquaintances. They're REALLY people one would be wise to refrain from writing about.

There are, I suppose, "the people in my neighborhood". You know - the ones mentioned in the Sesame Street song that has the lines, "Who are the people in your neighborhood? They're the people that you meet when you're walking down the street....". Well, in my sleepy, semi-rural, suburban, neighborhood I don't actually meet too many people when I'm walking down the street. Once in awhile the mail truck may be coming up the street, at which time the mail-carrier may or may not wave; and that's kind of it.

No, the "people that I meet" are mostly people at the shopping mall where the main attraction is the grocery store that pretty much everyone in my town frequents he's in need of "only the most basic groceries". It's a nice, big, modern store; but it specializes in "More for Your Dollar"; and that pretty much means "more volume for your dollar" - not "more variety".

Other than that, my world kind of mostly consists of things like computers, smart phones, and whatever other electronic gadgets there are that will create the impression that I'm "connected" to, and a part of, the larger world; when, in reality, I pretty much live the existence of a mushroom, or at least a prisoner in a minimum-security facility. Or, to paint the picture in a slightly different way, let's just say that I'm so much a part of a "technology-focused" world that I don't even go to that supermarket I mentioned without a bag full of gadgets that will keep my feet firmly rooted on the ground, or rather my arms at least within reach of that larger world - not to mention that handful of close people.

In other words, if I take those close people out of the mix my "world" can pretty much be reduced to a bunch of electronic stuff that involves "connectedness" and the Internet and buying groceries, which I could buy online if I really wanted to and were willing to buy things like lettuce and grapes without looking at them first.

So, having explained all that and highly unlikely to stop writing any Bubbles about the local shopping mall, I'll finally get to my latest - and admittedly, somewhat pathetic - grocery-store story:

Last evening as I emerged from the less-than-fascinating world of the supermarket, I was struck by the most amazing sunset I've seen in a long time. Sunsets are always nice, of course. Some are nicer than others. Every so often, though, there's a sunset that is absolutely breathtaking. This was one of those.

The vast expanse of sky looked like it was on fire, although the "fire", although there was so much pink it was clear it was a very different thing from fire. I reached into my handy Bag O Gadgets, took out my phone, ignored the e.mail notifications on it, and began trying to get a good picture of the amazing sky. The good thing about supermarket parking lots is that there are no trees blocking the expanse of sky. The bad thing about them is that there are tall parking-lot lights, as well as all kinds of over-head wires/cables. As a result, what would be a great "expanse-of-sky" picture is mucked up by the stuff I just mentioned. This means that any photographers, cell-phone photographers, or non-photographers who really only want to capture a sunset for all of time must face the reality that a good picture will require cropping. Cropping, of course, kind of defeats the purpose when it comes to "expanse of sky".

Anyway, as I left the store a couple of other customers joined me in remarking on the sunset. As I began taking my sky pictures as woman was walking from her nearby parked car toward me. As she got closer she called, "You should have seen it about five minutes ago!" As she reached the spot where I was standing the woman stood for a few minutes, admiring the sunset with me. We were both in awe.

The woman shared with me that she "gets the sunrises" because she's a school-bus driver and therefore out at the time of the morning. I mentioned that I get sunrises coming into my dining-room window as the two of us kept looking up at the sky-full of hot pink, mauve, and red. It was only a matter of a couple of/few minutes, but somewhere in the mix of our admiring and our brief chat I said, "You wonder why - when we've seen so many of them - we still....". The woman interrupted me and said, "It's because they're all so beautiful." On the one hand, her words to sum it all up completely. On the other hand, I was still left kind of momentarily wondering what it is about something as relatively common as a sky full of color other than blue or gray, or a sky-scape of colors that are caused by something as routine as a rising and setting "ball of fire" and a particular mix of clouds at any given time, that can make us feel like we're seeing magic. And, why, when we know we're not seeing magic at all, does feeling like we're seeing bring that sense of joy anyway?

Most of us ponder this stuff every once in awhile, of course; and I suppose, as the lady with whom I exchanged those few words said, it's just because sunsets and sunrises are beautiful. In other words, maybe sometimes we don't need to analyze such things beyond that. It took me only a few seconds to decide not to "further analyze" it and just enjoy the beauty of the sunset. Once I decided to stop myself from analyzing I started to think about how nice was to stop for a few minutes, stand with a stranger at the curb in the oh-so-mundane shopping center, and share that moment of awe that was a perfect reminder not only of all the ways in which we human beings are the same, but some of the small ways in which we remain connected.

I wasn't able to capture that expanse of color forever because the parking lots lights and wires really did muck up the whole picture, and the colors didn't really come out right in the photos anyway. As is so often the case, moments of such splendor can be difficult to capture. As is pretty much always the case, magic is impossible to capture.

As for the few words and few observations I shared with that woman... Well, they would hardly seem worth writing about, actually. Still, it was a moment that served as a great reminder of a type of connectedness that even the smartest of phones, or "fiery-est" of tablets can never offer.

Three Photos: M.E. Whelan