It’s winter. Here in Ohio, that means snow. Lately it’s been falling every other day. Not a blizzard mind you, but a shower here, a light snowfall there. And that means the towns and the state crews continually spread salt and brine to keep the roads from turning into slippery deathtraps.
And that, in turn, makes the roads a slushy mess. The salty muck ensures the thoroughfares are passable, but the poor cars suffer for it. My sad, winter-worn Altima looks like it’s covered in soapscum. They ought to use Scrubbing Bubbles on the roadways. That way, the dry, white film of winter wouldn’t cling to my tires, quarter-panels, hood & especially my windshield.
The freezing, melting, scraping & cleaning of a season’s worth of snow and ice has destroyed my wipers. Now, combine that with the soapscum splashing up from the roads and off the semis as they pass. Add to that the fact that, more times than not, the little nozzles for my windshield washer fluid are frozen over. This makes for some rather obscured driving. Like an old lady with cloudy cataracts.
There was a rare day this week when the planets aligned. It didn’t snow. The roads were actually dry. [Can you believe it?] The washer fluid squirted. My mangled wipers somehow worked like a dream. I could see.
And during my morning commute, I marveled at the wonder of glass: that it is both clear and structural, that it is so thin & fragile but strong, and that someone figured out how to make it. In a pinch, I could build a shelter. I could cut down some trees and lash them together to construct myself a makeshift hovel. It would take some trial and error, but I could probably make bricks if I had to. I could definitely make paper. (Like we did back in 3rd grade.) I can create paintings on blank canvas & trick words into becoming a novel. But glass? I can’t make glass.
First of all, I’d need the technical knowledge. The interweb tells me I’d need a furnace, a mixture composed of 75% silica (SiO2), sodium oxide (Na2O) from soda ash, lime (CaO), and other additives. After melting, homogenization and removing the bubbles, I’d have to form the glass using the ‘float glass’ process, or glassblowing, or pressing. Then I’d have to anneal it to remove the ‘stresses’.
Like I said, I can’t make glass.
But I can use it, admire it, marvel at the fact that someone else can. I can’t make a porcelain toilet or run plumbing, but I’m thankful that someone else can. I can’t engineer a circuit board or string together zeros and ones  to create a contraption which allows me to tap buttons which magically form letters on a screen. But I’m glad others have figured it out.
They work hard so I don’t have to.
I admit, I can go weeks without marveling at anything. The days tick by and I do my thing without ever feeling a moment of awe or wonder or appreciation. But, this week, on a rare, dry, clear-windshield day, I marveled at glass. It got me thinking about what I can’t–and what I can–do. I want to be the kind of person who makes things which others can not. I have the responsibility, the charge, and the honor, of creating something which only I can.
This is why I write.
And this is what I must remind myself when soapscum muddies the glass, when I not only fail to marvel at what others have created, but also when I fail to create marvelous things myself. And, since you’re reading this, let me challenge you to set the Scrubbing Bubbles loose in your own life. Right now. Clear away the crud and see yourself clearly. Allow yourself a moment to peel off the cataracts that have hindered you from seeing how amazing you are. No backtalk, no sassing. Just do it.
Can you see it? The awe-inspiring thing you’re supposed to do? Now hurry up and make it happen. Quick. Before the snow falls again, before the slag trucks muck up the streets and the windshield gets dirty.
Maybe, like me, you can’t make glass either. But that shouldn’t stop either of us from doing what we can do, and doing it well. We ought to be Scrubbing Bubbles.