Below the Surface

Aug 25, 2021    Trey McGuire

As I walked up to the rock wall dividing the Louisiana Boardwalk from the banks of the Red River, I expected to see the same thing I usually see...a River, a couple bridges, some birds, maybe some logs floating downstream, and the Shreveport skyline.

As fate would have it, I walked straight back from my favorite store (Under Armor) and directly to the riverfront. Did I see what I expected? Yes. Did it take me a second to look past literally what was the only nasty place on the surface of the water? Yes. I know that the river tends to be “rough around the edges” (just like, if we’re honest, most of us), but in this moment, the place I stood to look at it was the exact place that exposed the biggest flaw of what is usually, with all of its expected and natural blemishes, an absolutely beautiful scene. Especially on a beautiful day like today.

Compared to the enormity of the Red, does this little bit of silt, sediment, and debris effect the power this river has? No. Does it change the life giving power this flowing stream has had for centuries? No. Does it diminish the fact that it is the sustaining resource to two cities? No. In fact, back in the 1800s, Shreveport was actually founded because of a much much much bigger issue than a little dirt and debris swirling around. A log jam that literally dammed up the river and the efforts to clear it is what actually led to the settlement of this area. From that point, it has continued to give life to unthinkable amounts of wildlife and millions of people.

With that reality, the swirling mess still distracted me. If even for a few seconds, robbing me of the sheer beauty I was looking at in the much bigger picture. So, I’m that, I learned a few things.

1. Don’t give that blemish unnecessary power.
2. Do my part in preventing said blemish by making sure my trash doesn’t make it to the river.
3. Even with the mess, there is still purpose.

Now, go look in the mirror. What do you see? A little dirty blemish, a huge log jamming failure, something in between? Are you allowing that to overpower reality? Can you define the problem? Call it out? Do something about it? Cause, like the river, you’re not defined by whatever problem you see staring back at you. Your not diminished because you may be a little dirty. And that understanding will help you take the steps to actually clean up the problem rather than letting it rob you anymore.

Then go look at the people around you. Did you immediately see the flaw? Is that flaw distracting you from their inherent value? Maybe they can’t see reality when they look in the mirror. Maybe they need your help. Maybe, just maybe, you can be the one to look beyond what’s on the surface and help them out, because you see that what is underneath has unrecognized and untapped potential, just like this river did back when Captain Henry Shreve led a team to rid the river of the biggest natural disaster to ever hit our area. Therefore, leading to everything we experience today.

Today, look beyond the flaw you see staring back at you. Whether it’s in your reflection or in that person around you. You both have no clue what’s under the surface. And you’ve allowed flaws to overwhelm the potential for too long.