Under the Surface of What

Shaw IslandI love the Puget Sound. It is on of my favorite places in the world. Going to the beach was always a highlight of my childhood and the San Juan Islands seemed like a treasure trove of nautical curiosities. I was drawn to a carving from Robbie and Kara Johnson that brought me back to the wonder of the Sound. They host a project at belowtheboat.com that reveals the depth of terrain underneath the surface of the water. Their page on the Puget Sound describes the local island chain as, "pinnacles of a submerged mountain range that connects Vancouver Island with the mainland." I don't usually think of islands as the tops of mountains.  When we live life on the surface it is easy to take things at face value. Life is simple on the surface and quite clear. Things are what they are without further intrigue or background. But when we look under the surface of things we begin to understand their depth and significance. This is the difference between knowing what and why.

What knowledge can be gained by reading the back of the box. It is bullet points and always factual. What-knowledge is surface knowledge. It requires little depth and nominal understanding. Why-knowledge requires that you understand the story behind the person, place, or thing. It is often abstract and difficult to summarize. It is history, emotion, and purpose.

Look under the surface of what in order to gain why-knowledge. Understanding the back story helps you see that front story with much more clarity and insight.
Brent ColbyComment