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Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?
Or hast thou walked in search of the depth?
(The Book of Job)
THERE ARE DEPTHS OF UNDERSTANDING THAT FEW OF US HAVE FATHOMED — AND EVEN SOME THAT NONE OF US HAVE FATHOMED. It’s a much bigger world than any of us have yet comprehended, and even in our own little personal worlds, there are many things we’ve not yet explored or been able to explain. We need to be impressed with how much there is to learn out there. How can we fail to be inquisitive? How can we be content with what little understanding we’ve been able to gain in the past?
We should strive to be people who have some depth to us. Few of us would feel flattered if someone called us shallow or superficial, and yet that’s what many of us are. We don’t stand in awe of the mystery of life, and we’re content to be uninformed and unacquainted with the amazing intricacy of the world. What little knowledge we have is often no more than the bits and pieces we’ve stumbled across accidentally. We could do with a bit more depth, couldn’t we?
But there is a danger in depth, and that danger is pride. No sooner have we gained a smidgen of depth, than others notice us becoming smug toward the less experienced. Ever so subtly, we adopt the swagger of the sophomore, the “wise fool.” We’re hardly past the beginner’s stage ourselves, but already we feel superior to those who haven’t been where we’ve been and done what we’ve done. The antidote to pride, of course, is the recognition that compared to the distance between us and God, the distance between any two of us is so small that human pride is simply ludicrous.
Yet if we’ve learned the lessons of humility, can we not see depth as a gift that we can give? Today, wouldn’t others, especially our loved ones, appreciate it if we understood a thing or two that we didn’t understand yesterday? But make no mistake: a healthy measure of depth doesn’t usually come to the lazy or the negligent. In this world, it takes work to end up being anything more than deeply superficial.
“It is easier to perceive error than truth, for error lies on the surface and is easily seen, but truth lies in the depth where few are willing to search for it” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe).