On a morning bike ride, I noticed Spreckels Lake in Golden Gate Park was completely drained. It’s not a very deep lake, probably just a couple of feet, but it’s not something you’d wade into. Mostly, people launch model boats there and watch the ducks float by. It’s serene and a popular spot to unwind.
In its current waterless state, a friend on the ride noted its ugly appearance. Laid bare was the scum, algae and rocks, making up the foundation and guts of the vessel. Exposed, for all to see.
Similarly, this is how I feel about who we are and what we do and this world we live in. On the surface, we can look fantastic — smooth, calm and at our best. But at our essence is a complex ecosystem and environment that let us present the version of us, our work or our lives, that we want everyone else to experience.
Inner beauty. That’s what the lake has now. It’s been stripped down to its core. It is judged superficially without its aesthetic veneer. Inside, an intricate system of things we can’t or won’t comprehend. We may understand water, but we don’t understand the soil, the rocks, the algae, the microbial things that make up the rest of the whole.
Without the substructure, the insides, as messy as they may seem, we can’t have the outside: our skin, our features, our interactions, our water.
I look at the lake, and I think of the parallels — I’ve cited the real example, the analogy to our own bodies and being, but it’s certainly something that makes me consider the work we do. It can be disheveled but is continually improving and iterating, allowing us to present the best possible face to those who use it.