Hello! Daniel here!
I haven't posted in a while- as our days have been very busy... doling out medications, going on walks around the neighborhood, watching Downton Abbey, visiting our friendly medical team at NW Hospital, and shopping for wigs! So much to do every day of this cancer journey- my mom and I are beginning to wonder how we ever had time for jobs before all this began!
Well I had a thought a couple days ago that has continued to weigh on my brain and heart, so I decided to share it with all of you. Birds! Aren't these magnificent creatures? I just love them. I like to look at birds in whatever region of the world I'm in, and I'm astounded by their beauty, their ingenuity, their sounds, and their movements.
As a biology major, here are just a few fun facts I'd like to share about birds:
Some birds are very smart! In 1970, a psychologist named Gordon Gallup Jr. developed the "mirror test", in which an animal is placed in front of a mirror and observed. If the animal is capable of recognizing itself in the mirror, it demonstrates a higher level of cognitive functioning. For most animals, they see just another animal that looks like them, which they may be scared of, or more amusingly, become infatuated with (parakeets love to do this, as did my former pet cockatiel Simon). Animals that can recognize themself in the mirror are few and far between. Some primates (e.g. chimpanzees and orangutans), bottle-nosed dolphins, humans (by 24 months of age usually), and elephants are consistently shown to pass the mirror test. This research article discusses the findings in 2008 of the first non-mammalian animal to pass the mirror test, the magpie: Research article
Another thing that has always amazed me about birds is their migration patterns. Many birds travel around the world, summering in nice places (the Pacific Northwest for example), and then returning to the warmer, lower latitudes. While some people I know in the Northwest "snowbird" by traveling to warmer locations in the fall and winter, and returning to Seattle in the spring and summer, I wonder if they would keep up this tradition if it meant walking for weeks or months to get to their winter location. Sooty Shearwaters migrate almost 40,000 miles from New Zealand to the north each year, powered by their own wings, and animal instincts. Wow! National Geographic Article
My freshman year in college my animal biology professor Dr. Long played this clip about the incredible lyrebird. It has stuck with me as one of the coolest specimens of the animal kingdom. This bird from Australia has an incredible ability to mimick sounds of other birds. The sounds that came out of this bird seem as if someone is hitting play on a recording of various birds, and mechanical sounds. I am astounded by the variation in sounds among birds around the world. While we sometimes hate them early in the morning when we would like to stay asleep, I can't help but be pleased and delighted when walking through the wilderness and hearing a symphony of avian tones. Lyrebird
But my favorite thing about birds, and what has been on my mind these past few weeks, is their lack of worries. I have been hearing this verse since I was a small child, but never has it meant so much to me as it does now.
Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
We have these bird feeders outside our house and little birds come by all the time, especially in the winter, to feast on seeds and suet. They get enough to eat, and they find places to nest and burrow, all without worries. I am prone to worry, as I think a lot of people are. In school I worry about grades and tests, at home I worry about doing the laundry and cooking and DVR-ing the correct shows (a big deal in my family). At work I used to worry about finishing everything in a timely manner, returning emails promptly, and keeping my bosses and clients happy. Worry worry worry, I was riddled with it. When this cancer thing started my worry went off the charts for a few days. I delved into prayer and scripture and accepted the love and support of family and friends. God reminded me that He gives me strength each day, and we are not called to be worriers. The birds don't worry and they get taken care of, and I know God values his children far more than the birds. Each day I look at the blessing of a new day, I thank God for this time I get with my family, and I ask for strength to get through the next 24 hours. Tomorrow will have new problems, so I will deal with them then.
Matthew 6:33-34 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
One last note about my mom: She is the strongest, kindest, most loving person I know (tied with my dad and sister of course!). Each day she greets me with smile and cheer. She wants to keep everyone around her happy and encouraged, dismissing her own needs and interests as less important than everyone elses. I don't know how she does it. Her humor lifts my spirits, and her generosity and selfessness is unending. She is tough and she is a fighter. She has climbed Mt. Rainer, she has birthed two children without epidurals, she has been the top fundraiser at Seattle Children's hospital for many years, she is the most-loved person I know. She is going to beat the s%@# out of cancer! I love my mom so much!!