This I Believe

KUHF-Houston Public Radio’s “This I Believe” with Bill Heins

Bill has lived in many cities and countries in his life. The energy industry has seen to that. He’s currently living in the U.K…on the outskirts of London and he travels back to Houston occasionally for work. Adapting to new scenarios and cultures is a way of life for Bill. It’s something he learned as a young boy…at the dinner table. He explains in his essay for KUHF’s This I Believe.

After receiving his Ph.D. in Geology, Bill taught as a professor in a small college in Idaho. In time, he says he was “alien abducted” and lured into the oil and gas industry. He’s worked in that field ever since. Thanks to that work, he’s traveled the world. When Bill was asked if he has a “home base”…he hesitated and said…much of his family is in Wisconsin and his wife’s family is in Budapest, so those two spots are where he gravitates to. Bill and his wife have two children. When asked if he has a favorite place, he says there are two spots that are at the top of his list. One is up-state New York in the Adirondacks and the other is the border area where Washington, Idaho and Oregon come together.

Bill’s work is currently pursuing unconventional energy sources for Exxon-Mobil. He and his staff are in search of hydrocarbons, especially natural gas that are in places already tapped by traditional oil and gas exploration. New technology allows them to discover finds that were previously unavailable.

Here’s Bill Heins with his essay for KUHF’s This I Believe.
“I believe that my life is much richer because I am willing to take just one taste.

When I was a child, my parents had a simple mealtime rule: you had to take at least one taste of every food offered at the meal. You didn’t have to like it, but you absolutely had to take one taste.

Over time, I accepted the underlying concept that pushing beyond my comfort zone was good. I learned there was a chance to discover unexpected pleasures if I would just take one taste.

Although the lesson started at the supper table, it grew far beyond. I saw my mother start casual conversations with strangers on the street. Her attitude was: I don’t have to like these people, I don’t have to be their friend for life, but I want to take just one taste to learn something about them.

Sometimes, the conversational taste became a real taste of food. On a trip to Veracruz, Mexico in the 1960s, one of my mother’s conversations led to a lunch invitation. We sat down to a meal of things I had never even imagined in my small-town Iowa childhood. However, all of us were well trained to take one taste of everything. That day I learned that sometimes, strange food is very delicious. Even more important, I learned that enjoying and praising someone’s gift of food shows them you are open and willing to engage them without fear or prejudice.

Decades later, I met a wonderful Hungarian woman in Budapest. Her family were not too keen on Americans in general, and were suspicious of me in particular, since I might take their daughter away. However, after I devoured fried carp and fatback at Grandma’s house, and let her know how much I liked it, I had a foot in the. I truly believe that appreciation of Mama’s gourd stew sealed the deal.

Now that Judit and I are parents, too, we keep the same rule at our dinner table. We want our children to be open to all of life’s possibilities. Our experience shows there is no better place to start than with the fundamental human need for food.

I believe that my life is fuller and richer and better connected to other people because I’m willing to take just one taste of food, or culture, or ideas of any kind. If I don’t like it, that’s OK, because I don’t have to take another taste if I don’t want. But more often than not, I’ll be back for another helping.”


Paul Pendergraft

Content Producer, UH Moment, Engines of Our Ingenuity

Paul Pendergraft is Houston Public Media’s Senior Producer for News & Public Affairs. Paul came to KUHF in the spring of 1996 as a general assignments news reporter. In time Paul was promoted to Assistant News Director, News Director and then to his current position.While at KUHF, Paul has been...

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