It’s so fun to peel back the shiny outer layers of the world and see what happens behind things.

Almost all living organisms produce some sort of outer covering to protect their delicate and complicated insides from outside influence. Skin, membranes, whatever. Even liquid metals develop an oxide layer as just a natural consequence of being exposed to the world, and this layer in turn protects the rest of the element.

Institutions and organizations form public-facing fronts that look very different from the “factory floor.” Cars aren’t just exposed engines riding around.

My point is, everything gets a shield. Naturally or artificially, everything just sort of develops a cover to shield its guts from the outside world. That shield is protective, but it’s also obscuring – you can’t tell how a car works by looking at it, because you can’t see all the parts that really make it work.

That’s true of almost everything. But you can peel back that layer. Sometimes in a more literal sense and sometimes metaphorically, you can go digging around inside. You can find out all sorts of interesting things by opening a back door somewhere and looking around inside.

But it takes some courage. Modern humans have developed a real aversion to poking around where they haven’t been expressly invited. They think that if they haven’t been asked to go somewhere explicitly, then they’ve been banned from there implicitly. That’s not true at all!

We have a local pizza place near us that we adore and is my kids’ favorite restaurant. It’s been a neighborhood staple for a while. One day while we were sitting in the dining area waiting for food to come out, my oldest kid just wandered into the back and asked to see the ovens and such. I admit (regrettably!) that my first instinct was to tell her to come back out and not bother the poor folks trying to work, but I’m glad that my instinct was shot down. Wendy, the wonderful owner, told my kid to come on back and look around and showed her all sorts of stuff. My kid was glowing, and ever since she’s considered herself practically staff at that place – she’s even earned a few dollars in tips by busing tables there!

All from having that perfect child-like courage to ask to look around. Lots of people are actually flattered when you show an interest in their thing and are happy to show you around. And if they’re not – so what? Be on your way and find a new adventure. There are plenty out there.

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