Brazilians, apheresis and the Holidays

I have given up trying to determine why Brazilians keep hitting my site. Evidently, they arrive at the site and immediately run away. None were caught in my net of Brazilian-baiting (post now deleted), probably as I had written in English, not Portuguese. Since I have no skill in Portuguese, I must accept that I may never be able to divine the purpose of their visits. I assume the proliferation of their clicks is the result of some errant link embedded somewhere on a Brazilian web page, placed in all probability by someone who was wildly enthusiastic (cough) about one of my ‘economics of space’ essays. Followers were underwhelmed. One can forgive them.

Today I am sitting a bit zoned, perhaps due to the early hour of rising, perhaps due to the weird drugs they pump into you for apheresis. If this word is foreign to you, it can be understood: it is the process of removing from the blood one’s platelets  (those being the delicate little ‘dishes’ of sticky stuff that coagulate your blood when you are wounded). I spent ninety minutes with my lips buzzing as the anticoagulants sucked the calcium from my blood, a nasty side effect which can really take you out. Hence I chomped Tums and gulped horrid-tasting orange juice the whole time.

I do not mean to complain; on the contrary, I find the experience deeply satisfying. Despite having a huge needle in my arm — which will do real damage if you dare move the arm or even one’s wrist, as the helpful Olga explained to me (in delightfully Russian-tinged English) — and being chilled by blood coming back from a little refrigeration plant by the bed (necessitating heating pads and copious blankets), spending two-and-a-half hours this way results in a pint of orange goop that makes life possible for others and is a wonderful way to pay back some societal debt. I don’t volunteer much, nothing regular anyway (due to a job which has continually for 15 years called upon me at odd and unexpected intervals to fly or drive off at short notice), so I do one-offs like giving blood and platelets to the Red Cross and manning the odd phone back for various worthy causes (which are political and thus will not sully the blog, which I am trying to keep on the literary and reflective — rather than the adversarial — side of the aisle).

And here we find ourselves hard upon a series of holidays. We’ve got Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, all piling on and disrupting our lives in delightful ways. Houseguests and ear-bending relations we see only a few times a year will test our patience, overwhelm our dishwashers, and leave us collapsed on the familial couch at the end of long evenings, and we’ll be happier, refreshed, energized because of it. This is the time to create some more memories, rebuild connections, break up the routine of our lives to remind us of what really matters: that each one of us is a little vessel of consciousness unto ourselves. In the end the only way we expand the impact of our existence is to share what we see and feel,  evocate our hopes and aspirations to someone else who loves us, is delighted by us, or at the very least, gives a damn. And that alone is a fine thing.

I encourage everyone to take an extra moment every day to reflect whether you can do one small act of kindness to make someone else feel appreciated. Hold a door, thank a helper or a clerk, give a seat up to someone more burdened than yourself. With six billion of us, every small effort counts a whole lot. Thanks for reading, and may you find peace and joy in 2015.

About H.W. MacNaughton

Technologist and communicator. Into technology, jazz, Formula One, sci-fi and any good writing about real stuff.
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