Lupus Alae

Spiritflights, fledgling and ancient


Beyond the blood - Part I

The quest to understand the core of who we are often has auspicious beginnings. My journey begins in blood.

I am a blood donor, as regularly as I can be (I sometimes am deferred due to low hematocrit). I am on the National Marrow Registry. I'm drawn to things like this; I can fully imagine myself as a surrogate for a mother who cannot bear children. I would hand over a kidney or part of my liver to a stranger in need without a second thought.

Am I a saint? Hardly. These things don't even feel like selfless acts to me, though I do/would do them freely. I have this burning need to give such as I am blessed with, to share the wealth that I have, the abundance, with those who do not have these things.

I'm not rich, though sometimes I think about how much fun it would be to have the money to be an anonymous philanthropist, investing in people who might not otherwise get to do certain things (whether it's afford a wedding gown or a heart transplant; perhaps paying for a poor but promising kid's education without them ever knowing who stepped in for them).

I don't have the space in my home or the income to adopt a child or children (I have three little ones of my own), but I could see myself doing that, too. There are so many things that I would absolutely love to do for people, that some part of me needs to do if I ever become able. For now, I do what I can; I have the fortune of my good health at the very least. And this, I can share.

Donating blood, that vital essence, is an intimate act of giving that touches at least for a moment, that ever-raging fire inside, yearning to give more. I take part of that which keeps me alive, and I offer the same vitality to another, who will never know my name or the gladness with which I gave. I have been on the receiving end as well, though my donations and desire started long before February 2009. And I wonder if the four people whose generosity kept me alive and granted me the ability to keep giving to others, felt as I do.

I have my own wants in life, to be sure. I'm not Gandhi or Mother Teresa; my life is not devoted to the masses in an overt way. While I would not call myself extremely materialistic, it's true that I love gadgets and crisp books and music on my iPod; I play games and am heavily engaged in the life I live day to day. I have frustrations and I screw things up just like everyone else on the planet.

But underneath it all, there is always this hyper-awareness of how interconnected we all are. Like so many hubs of one giant wheel, we all have these spokes connecting each of us to all others in our world. I wish to send healing and peace, light and hope from myself, to send it humming through and along the spokes from where I am, to any other life that crosses my path -- and to those who never do, to whom I am still connected and hold in my heart just the same.

I am boundless. I am one spirit in one body, but I am not alone and I will not live as though I can't affect the world. The world is already connected to me. And this, I think, is why it hurts so much -- I was trying, and failing, to explain the other day to a friend -- when I get deferred from giving blood, or when something I wish to do for someone in another way gets derailed, even temporarily:

I hate the thick pauses in what I do for others. It's like an unexpected silence halfway through your favorite song on the radio. You know the notes and words coming next, have them written upon your heart and on the tip of your tongue; every fiber of your being wishes to sing them out and to hear them surrounding you. The sudden absence of the melody, even if only for a few seconds, is disquieting. You feel not quite yourself until it resumes, and then you exhale the breath you didn't realize you were holding, and comfort returns. Any perceived spoke-stillness on my part bothers me to no end. I wish them to always vibrate with my offerings, to keep a steady flow of to-and-for-you going.

The first part, then, of who I am, is we. I am only one person, but I am a part of something much bigger than myself, and I feel and know this with every breath, and wish simply to brighten every spoke in the wheel in any way I can. It is this which compels me, this which drives me. This which strums my soul-strings and brightens me.

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