Life-changing events may be easily forgotten.
C.S. Lewis said of diaries, that in recording the day’s events, one may overlook those that will prove to have been life-changing. Similarly, in meditation one may attain states where activities or insights occur that may be impossible to recall once one leaves that state. So I made special note to — make note of — the story I will tell here; which may prove to be pretty important, but also easily forgotten.
Saturday morning a week ago, just about the first thing I found in my FaceBook news feed was a “sponsored” post (that is, an advertisement) unlike anything that has ever appeared in my news feed before. To contextualize this, for the sake of those who may read this years from now, there has been the pro-Trump conspiracy theory for some time now — difficult to reconcile with Rush Limbaugh’s claim that COVID itself was merely a hoax to make Trump look bad — that COVID was a biological weapon China unleashed against the United States.
And that Anthony Fauci was behind it. He is the nation’s foremost expert on infectious diseases, and had the temerity to display doubt about some things Trump said.
The conventional wisdom was that the virus began with inadvertent human-animal contact in a “wet market” in Wuhan, China. Dr. Fauci was involved with a U.S. grant to a researcher studying similar viruses, in Wuhan, several years ago.
And, of course, COVID wreaked havoc across Europe for some time before it ever appeared in the United States. At this writing, it is devastating India. So, if it was a biological weapon directed at the U.S., the Chinese did not aim very well. They also lost enough people of their own.
So, the purpose of the post was to spark outrage.
Related: Who or what can we believe?
With me, at least, that succeeded. Its intent is to spark outrage against the designated enemies, the Chinese and Dr. Fauci. In me, it sparked outrage at the poster.
That emotional state might have lasted indefinitely.
This was not, and would not be, good.
Aside from the immediate futility of spending time stewing in anger, there is the long-range need: when I host The William Tell Show, I cannot afford to fly off the handle every time, or any time, a caller expresses something similar to that FaceBook post. The show is supposed to welcome all callers and all points of view.
Now, I have seen in the past that when I am highly centered, or have peace of mind, practically no thing can disturb me. I need to attain that state chronically, to do what I mean to do on The William Tell Show. I am not in that state now; if I were, that post would not have outraged me. I also know that when I’m in that state, I have a whole different worldview than I do just now, and a whole different sense or feeling about being myself, in the world, than I do now.
So, last Saturday, the task became to get myself out of the state I was in at the time; to establish centeredness or peace of mind; to let go of my outrage over that FaceBook post.
I followed the steps set out in The Way of Peace.
The first step was and is to establish Presence. That may be the last step also. But I began by directing my attention to the physical objects in my immediate environment: the bottle of Pepsi sitting on my desk; my laptop also sitting on my desk. My desk itself. Paying attention to these things.
Throughout my activities for the rest of the day, I kept my attention focused on just that whatever activity I was engaged in at the moment; whatever place I happened to be at any moment. I let go of all thoughts of things or concerns past, future, or elsewhere.
And I just kept doing that, bringing my attention back to the present, whenever it would move away.
Eventually I did let go of, was purged of, the outrage. The learning is that I must do this again any time in the future whenever I am outraged. I could kick myself for having become outraged to start with, for having not been centered; but that won’t do me any good. There is a slogan in A.A., “Keep coming back:” every time one relapses (“falls off the wagon”), one needs to come back to the movement and the teachings and establish recovery again.
I need to come back to the present, whenever I fly off the handle.
And if this becomes, God willing, habitual; then I will have a changed life.