Among the many ways we find our way through the world, ways we make sense out of what we experience, and navigate through life, there’s what we can see and feel on the surface of things. It’s easy to speak disparagingly of these things that are shallow as inherently lacking in spiritual depth or value, too, but that’s an unfair assessment to attach automatically to everything.
In practice, it takes but little tactile variation on surfaces to warn us, for example, not to grab nutmeg graters and 60-grit sandpaper hard in the soft palms of our hands, or expect to get a grip on a slippery fish without difficulty. Even the simplest human, once taught to recognize it, respects the distinctive visual patterns on a Diamondback rattlesnake from a safe distance. Conversely, we learn quickly enough the appeal of what we can recognize as soft, dense fur and sleek satin that invite our touch, and admire the enchanting graces brought to a garment by lace, to an elegant chair or door by skillful carving.
What we see and what we feel teach us how to interact with and respond to our environs. It’s not always a bad thing to need to rely on even snap judgements about things based on their surfaces. That, after all, is where an enormous amount of the beauty, utility and comfort that attracts us to them in the first place resides.