Nature or nurture? The debate about how and why we develop certain personality traits has been ongoing for years.
Earlier this month, my mother would have celebrated her 53rd birthday. Because she passed away nearly 11 years ago, however, I spent some time on her birthday looking through old photos, reminiscing about days gone by--days when I was lucky enough to have my mom around when I needed her. Digging through my old albums that day, I stumbled across this photo.
That's me, holding the kitten, and my mother looking at me. I love this picture--it seems so genuine, so innocent. It got me to thinking, though. Have I always loved animals as much as I do now? Do I love animals because my parents instilled that love into me, or because it was something I was born with, a personality trait I would possess regardless of my upbringing?
Looking back, there are a lot of significant moments I can remember from my childhood that included animals. Many involved me saving animals who had been the unfortunate victims of other animals trying to eat them, or play with them to the point of serious injury, or kill them (maybe just to prove that Darwin was correct in his theory). So many of these instances affected me, and still affect me to this day.
I have fond memories of our dogs and cats having puppies and kittens; of my father getting my mom a Golden Retriever puppy for her birthday--the gift she had really wanted; of me keeping my feet warm at the breakfast table in the fluffy, black and silver fur of our beloved Norwegian Elkhound, Sigvard. I remember writing a poem--a really good poem--about our dog Missy after she escaped our yard and was never seen by us again, leaving me, a ten-year-old little girl, heartbroken and without a cuddle partner.
Animals have always played an important role in my life. Maybe I'd love them just as much without the influence of my parents, but I have a feeling that their love for animals was a big help in fostering mine. If my mom were here today, I'd thank her for, among other things, teaching me compassion for all living creatures, both great and small.