“Errors, like straw, upon the surface flow; He who would search for pearls must dive below” (John Dryden).
PROFOUNDNESS HAS TO DO WITH “DEPTH.” While some thoughts are “shallow,” dealing only with what is obvious or superficial (on the “surface”), others have more depth. And whether we like to admit it or not, the more valuable thoughts tend to be the deeper ones: they are not immediately obvious, but require that we “dive below,” as Dryden put it. The person who never goes any deeper than first impressions and outward appearances is bound to misjudge many things and miss out on life’s richest experiences. So we ought to aspire to “profoundness” — not so others will think we’re “deep” but so we can see things as they are and not merely as they appear.
Profoundness requires extra effort. While it is easy to make snap judgments based on insufficient data, it takes hard work to “dive below” and discover what is really going on. But the extra effort is worth it. The results are truth, right judgment, and fair conduct.
The more profound a truth is, the less likely we are to discover it without serious thinking, and serious thinking usually requires some quietness. “The greatest ideas, the most profound thoughts, and the most beautiful poetry are born from the womb of silence” (William Arthur Ward). In this busy, noisy age, it is hard to find the personal quietness necessary for profound thoughts to reveal themselves to us, but wonderful insights await the person who will take time for silence.
Our friends deserve that we deal with them at a level deeper than outward appearances and surface judgments. What seems “obvious” to us may not really be true, and so we give a great gift to those around us when we do the work to dig a little deeper in our relationships.
But we could be more profound in regard to ourselves as well. One definition of “profoundness” is “coming from the depths of one’s being” (American Heritage Dictionary). In all that we do, we would do well to act on convictions that lie deep within us. And not only that, we would do well to look deep within ourselves. Strangers to our real selves, few of us have ever plumbed the depths of our own character. But doing that is the first great step on the road to growth.
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes” (Carl Gustav Jung).