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by Max Ong

It was an impulsive decision on my end. I walked into the hall two minutes before the cut-off time, out of curiosity and the silly thought that this would be no different from the blood tests I get done annually. Sign-up form. Weighing scale. Oximeter. Interview. Blood typing. Gosh, so many steps. Pre-donation cookie?! Now that's different. Dark chocolate was the only flavor I could identify, so I grabbed one of those and headed to the waiting area.

I watched as the donors lay helplessly in supine while having their blood sucked out of their system. After about twenty minutes of anxious waiting, it was finally my turn. "Gaano katagal po ito?", were the words I uttered to the administering phlebotomist immediately after lying down. "Mga five minutes lang", she said. I let out a sigh of relief. She handed me a stress ball in my left hand, and after a couple of seconds shot a needle straight into my left arm. Aray. I never dared to sneak a look at the needle, but I immediately knew that it was bigger than anything that's pierced me before. In an attempt to distract myself, I grabbed my phone from my right pocket with my free hand and scrolled through my social media feed. It's definitely been more than five minutes. The pain wasn't going anywhere, and with the phone failing in its objective, I slid it back to where it belonged. Tired of the virtual world and the pain of the physical, I decided to retreat and shut my eyes for a moment.

Similar to how the brightest stars shine in the darkest nights, the fondest realizations often come when one sees nothing but black. "We give it life", has been PMS' tagline for I don't know how long already. Exactly what "it" is, no one really knows, and it is therefore a line which is said almost always impassively -- roaringly, yes, but lacking in vigor. As I engaged in what essentially was an impromptu mindfulness exercise, I reflected on why I was here in the first place. Why was I subjecting myself to this momentary torture? Why was I allowing myself to have my life sucked out of me? Why did I give in to my impulse to walk through that door in the first place?

And then I remembered, "Oh yeah…we give it life".

And then I thought, "No…we give them life".


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