Thursday, November 12, 2009


I like to think. A lot. Maybe too much.

Friends and family members always like to mention that I live in "another world". My in-laws, who speak primarily in Chinese, often like to stop mid-conversation to ask me if I understand what they're saying. My response is usually, "I wasn't listening".

Lest you think I'm being rude, it is very exhausting trying to listen to a foreign language for long periods of time. But that is not what this post is supposed to be about, so lets move on...

So, in those moments when my mind wanders, it takes me off into many directions. Sometimes they are simple thoughts like, "I wonder if I can play video games right now without my wife getting mad at me", or "How do we get the manic dog to stop barking?"

When I'm driving, I often marvel at the human brain and what it is capable of. We take for granted the complex motor skills that are required to make a simple turn. We learn the skills and practice to the point where we don't have to think any more. We think about turning and the practiced movements of our arms, feet, neck and eyes do everything for us.

I remember reading about an experiment where electrodes were placed in a monkey's brain, which transmitted signals to a robotic arm. With a little practice, the monkey could control the arm and use it almost as another limb- using the arm to grab treats and feed itself. I wonder if this skill is related to the ability to use tools that humans and monkeys have developed as an evolutionary boost.

But that is by no means the most amazing thing I've seen.

Watching a child grow is an amazing experience. It is definitely something that might make you believe in miracles. And my daughter truly is a miracle.

When she was just a few days old, I'd watch her sleeping and see the rise and fall of her chest in time with her breathing. I'd marvel at the thought of how much had to be made just right to keep that motor running. I used to have a small fear in the back of my mind that she'd suddenly stop. That sounds morbid, but I bet every parent has had the same thought at some point or another.

After all, if you really think about it, you might realize how complex the human body is. Modern science has worked tirelessly on understanding how life works, and we have only just begun. If a baby were engineered by humans, it almost certainly wouldn't work.

But my baby can not only breathe. She can see, feel, and hear. She can learn. Every moment, she observes and learns about pieces of the world around her. She practices the skills she will eventually need in order to function as a human being- all without prodding or any incentive other than her own basic need to do so.

Through years of scientific study aimed at understanding the processes my daughter has gone through, we have learned many things. In many cases, we have learned pieces of information that we already knew in some way or another. We have learned that children need love and attention in just the same way that they need food and water. We have learned time and time again that what is best for us just happens to be what nature has provided for us all along.

In my world, miracles are everywhere. They don't have to be divinely summoned to be so.

I'd better stop before I make someone throw up.

1 comment:

  1. Lyra has reminded me of what I must have forgotten now that you boys are grown: A child's craving for growing results in developments that are nothing short of miraculous.

    I miss my little Lyra.