The Necessity of Openness

Angelica - Stamford, Texas
Entered on May 13, 2005
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: tolerance

The Necessity of Openness

The topography of West Texas is like the scenery of an old black-and-white western: eternally parched, flat, and open. In a nation that is ever-expanding, ever adding a new high-rise where an open field used to dot the urban landscape, this part of the nation is the opposite of urban sprawl. The redundancy of cotton fields and dust-laden cattle pastures make spotting trees on the horizon as infrequent as a long, quenching July rain. However, it is in this topographical openness that residents of West Texas, myself included, find beauty and understanding.

Like the openness that is inherent in this land, I believe in the necessity of human beings to be open to other humans and to the changes affecting our lives. In this age of division–of liberals versus conservatives, of Muslims versus Christians, of Wal-Mart versus Target–an open mind is as necessary as the balance of rain and heat to a bountiful cotton crop.

It is the power of openness that I have pursued in my own life. Part of my striving to be always open is a survival mechanism. Diagnosed with Type-I diabetes at three, I have been forced to be open to thinking outside the box–outside current medical thinking at times–to maintain my health for the past 32 years. Diabetes is a disease of balance: eat too many snacks, and my blood sugar will skyrocket; eat too few snacks, and it will plummet. My key to remaining free of long-term complications has been to be open to–to changing when necessary–how I maintain the balance of “normal” blood sugar.

But being open hasn’t always come easy for me. Ten years ago, I was furious when I learned that my father, then in his 60s, decided to experiment with cocaine and heroin. At the time, I wasn’t open to understanding or sympathizing with why he might be addicted to drugs. I saw his addiction as completely selfish and irresponsible. Good grief, he was in his 60s; he should have known better.

A couple of years later, when my dad moved away from the metroplex where he became addicted to drugs to the small town in West Texas where I lived with my family, I was suspicious of him, angry at him for daring to bring his demons to my part of the world. It took me years for my anger to subside and for me to see that my father, once flirting with the dangers and addictions of heroin, was indeed now sober. For the first time since his addiction, I could grasp the truth that he is an incredible “granddaddy” to my son and a welcome companion to my mother–that my father does embody goodness.

This I believe, that openness is as essential to life–to my relationships with my father and my diabetes–as is rain to parched West Texas. That openness, symbolized in the physical landscape of my home, is the only hope for a bridge between the gaps of relationships, political ideology, religion, and capitalism that comprises the landscape of our nation today.