I believe in openness. The person who is open to the realities before her or him has a a life where anything is possible, where every minute brings forth enrichment. The trait of being open to your surroundings, to others, to ideas is a trait that can be cultivated. It is the stripping back of preconceptions, biases and ego. It is the desire to really see what is in front of you.
I try bring a phiospphy of openness to my own work. I am an endocrinologist and a diabetes specialist. As physician, I am permitted to share in aspects of the lives of others that they do not share readily. Everything from what a person eats when no one is around to how one views ones role in a family are parts of the care of diabetes. Because there is no right way to live, the best diabetes care is the care that is tailored to the patient’s own preferences. To tell someone else how to live in a way adjusted to the metabolic features of a disease is not necessarily a path to their best health. I remind myself to simply hear them before formulating a plan with them. I also devote some time of every new visit to exploring what a patient does with their time. One can simply feel the moment of trust if it happens, like the person who comes labelled as a difficult person in prior notes, but lights up when their passion for playing the piano is revealed, or their former life in the Peace Corps in Africa. Suddenly there is a bond of trust that brings a willingness to modify, which is the essence of diabetes care and the real pleasure in my occupation.
Although I see the value of striving for openness in my work as a physician , I also see it in all aspects of society. Striving for an appreciation of another religion, another culture , another perpective on todays events listening or seeing before judgement, brings an enrichment, a fine tooling of ones own values and approaches. It is valuable perspective on leadership to ask if this leader, or candidate, is truly open to new ideas.
Openness is hard work. I am reminded of the writings on contemplation of Thomas Merton , his lucid descriptions of the work it takes and the rewards it brings to truly being open to God. Therein lies the challenge of a life that is truly special, because it seems our natural inclination is to value ourselves and our perspectives. No one is open all the time, so that although I believe in openness, I think the struggle to achieve openness is where we find meaning in this existence, it is where we confront ourselves, it is where we change. In striving to be open, we truly live.
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