Keep An Open Mind

“Keep an open mind.”

These were words my father always quoted to me,

and words he lived by.

Although I have not heard him utter those words in over a decade,

I too live by them.

My father’s open mind is the reason I am here.

His openness is what motivated him to join the Peace Corps,

and what led him to my mother.

My father taught me to look at the world with new eyes each day.

He taught me that I could learn something every day if I let myself.

My father and I both shared a love of reading,

and of asking questions.

We could both be cautious and hesitant,

but did not allow those qualities to dominate.

Despite our cautiousness and hesitancy, our curiosity always got the best of us,

and allowed us to live life more fully.

My father absolutely lived life fully.

He was engaged and engaging, and touched every life he entered.

I am incredibly blessed to be his daughter, and to be carrying on his legacy.

Like my father, I encourage my son, his grandson, to look at the world with openness, curiosity and wonder.

I teach him to take chances, and to know that each day is a learning experience.

I teach him to live life fully.

In an essay recounting his arrival in Guayaquil in 1964, my father wrote:

“It was a very damp, hot night in the middle of the rainy season, but there were few clouds in the sky, and as we crossed the river in a small boat, low in the water with passengers and luggage, I could see the stars above, and the lights of Guayaquil in the distance; and hear the incredible insect and bird sounds of a tropical night. I had little idea of what awaited me on the other side of the river, and certainly could not imagine that all of my future life would be connected to that city in one way or another.”

When I read his description, I can absolutely visualize what he witnessed.

I can see him writing it, and I can hear him reading it.

Those words bring my father back to me.

Those words are the seed of what would become my legacy.

There is a photo of my father in Guayaquil, taken in September 2010.

That would turn out to be his last trip to the city that transformed his life,

and led to my own.

At the time I was 6 months pregnant with the grandson who would inherit his eyes.

My father imparted innumerable lessons to me,

but perhaps the most important lesson of all was to

“keep an open mind.”

¡Loor al 18 de mayo de 1.940! Te quiero y te extraño, Papi.

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Bilingual. New Yorker. Multiethnic. Change Agent. Author of “Strength of Soul” (2Leaf Press; University of Chicago Press, April 2019)

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Naomi Raquel

Naomi Raquel

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Bilingual. New Yorker. Multiethnic. Change Agent. Author of “Strength of Soul” (2Leaf Press; University of Chicago Press, April 2019)