While reading a friend’s post documenting her journey of a bone marrow transplant she made the comment that her bone marrow level was now at 95% donor. I was struck by that notion and thought of how much of ourselves is donor parts. For some this means a physical donation of eyes, kidneys, liver and other body organs that are now so easily done through surgical means. What we don’t ordinarily think about is how much of what we think of as “us” is donated by those around us.
It starts with our parents donating their egg, sperm and the DNA characteristics that make up our physical form. Our grandparents and other ancestors have donated our heritage and collective cultural experiences. Epigenetics tells us that behaviors and thinking patterns can be passed down from successive generations. The environment we grew up in donates much to our perception of the world.
These donations do not stop with our birth and the atmosphere we were born into. We are learning machines with adjustments to our perceptions happening all the time. A kiss on our baby smooth forehead donates our first taste of physical love. Touching a hot stove donates to us the gift of physical pain. We are left for the first time with a babysitter and feel the donation of abandonment. The donation of a well cooked meal presents us with a pleasantly full belly. A beloved pet dies contributing grief to our growing list of donations. On and on it goes with experiences happening to and around us along with our reactions to them.
Where do all these donations go and what do we do with them once they are in our possession? Most were incorporated into our perception of ourselves and our world. Some fit very nicely and are used often on various occasions. The feelings of joy when we help those less fortunate, the belief we can do great things in spite of circumstance, the positive thoughts about our own self-worth are all gifts that were given to us in some fashion as we grew to maturity.
Other donations were used when we were small but then discarded eventually for something we found more useful. We may have finally abandoned the belief that only our parents can make our lives be OK, the thought that we may have caused our present circumstance and no one else is to blame, or perhaps we have discovered that it is alright to color outside of the lines on occasion.
Still, there were several donations that did not fit well at any time and are now chafing or snug in all the wrong places. These we still try to use either because of who gave them to us or using them helps us feel accepted. You insert your own reason. Perhaps we were gifted with a belief that we were no good or would never amount to anything. We could have received from well-meaning individuals a donation of shame for a disability or proclivity to certain unsavory activities. Guilt may have been laid at our doorstep for things we are not even sure we really believed in.
Another aspect is that we are donating to others just as they are donating to us. Are we thoughtful in our giving or do we hand out our gifts indiscriminately to any who pass by regardless of the fit? Perhaps it is time to do inventory of the donations made in our name.
Yes, our lives are made up of many donations from different people, places, and things. Just as the Salvation Army or the Goodwill Stores can not decide what people want to donate to them, we get handed all this stuff that may or may not be useful. We do, however, have control of what happens after that. We can look at what was given from every angle then decide for ourselves if we want to keep it, pass it on to another or discard the unwanted item. This reflection is my donation to you.