He was small, diminutive even, but had mesmerising eyes. I’d noticed him watching me as I repaired the shop-front window – he was reflected clearly in the glass. It wasn’t till I was almost set to leave that he approached me.
“Do you know what it’s really for?” he asked, “What it really is?”
Uh oh, I thought, a screwball. But there was an intensity to his questioning and his penetrating red-rimmed eyes were compelling me to know what he meant, so I asked, “Waddya mean, what are you on about?”
“Glass” he shot back, pointing to my repair and looking pleased with himself.
“Well it’s a window, innit. You look through it.” I hedged. I wanted to get away now so I made to get in my Ute but he came around to the driver’s side and, jabbing his finger at his head, said, “Think.”
Well, that got me. I mean, I am a thoughtful man. I know what’s what. Glass is my livelihood. I’m not a man of words though, that’s all. His intense gaze was willing me to respond. “What,” he pressed, “is the meaning of glass?”
That was five years ago. He had wandered off after that final question; he was sort of . . . chuckling to himself. But, he’d won. I became obsessed with the question. Oddly, I found I wasn’t alone – perhaps he had been out there spreading his type of obsessive-compulsive madness. I found others had been seeking the answer too – though none had succeeded in finding it. Some, wanting to be united in their quest and uncertainty had formed groups through the internet. These plaintively appealed to some ephemeral body and held their meetings in buildings which displayed a lot of colourful, lead-light glass. It bugged them too. But I have always been a loner, and anyway, I reckoned I knew the answer.
I ‘knew’, but hadn’t been able to access that knowledge – if you know what I mean. It was intuitive, hidden in the deep, dark recesses of my . . . . Look, I’d worked with glass most of my life but just hadn’t ever really thought about what its meaning was. It took that bloke with the funny eyes to direct me and concentrate my thinking. From that moment on it . . . well, it gave my life meaning. I found other seekers too. Some were a bit strange, I’ll admit. Some would spend hours staring thoughtfully at a pane of glass. You know the type – you’d be familiar with their posture: standing feet slightly apart, one arm across the lower chest supporting the other elbow, the hand of that arm poised on the chin thoughtfully stroking the jaw. They gaze, they stare, they ponder . Non-seekers think they are just gazing out the window. Oh yes, they sometimes are briefly distracted by the view or some activity beyond, but I recognise their obsession. They are pondering the answer to that BIG question . . . “What is the meaning of glass?”
Now, I, after years of contemplation, consultation, research and experimentation (often at serious risk to my well-being) have found the answer. Finally, I am able to bring you clarity – to spread light upon the subject. To enable you to see not only the reason why glass is, but to reveal to you its deeper meaning. I opine, too, that it always was thus, ever since some bright spark noticed that a certain silica sand, when molten by extreme heat, hardened when cool to form a somewhat clear crystalline product. I will also report on my discussions with my sources of these stunning revelations and inform you of the role that you and glass will play in our everyday lives in the future. The curtain will fall away. You will see! I offer you . . . enlightenment.
Expressions of interest in this profound knowledge should be directed to: http://www.themeaningofglass.hvn