Welcome back everyone to the Living Metta laboratory of life where we usually experiment with ways to take metta off the meditation cushion and out into the world. However, recent data anomalies have inspired me to break protocol this month.
But before I step onto my metta soapbox, a little backstory for context.
A previous article, Traveling Light and Lighter, described my meditative pre-op MRI scan before having two uterine fibroids embolized six years ago.
Being someone who, by nature, prefers to look rather than look away—what I often jokingly refer to as being on a first-name basis with any elephant in the room—I asked the surgeon if I could watch the procedure. This world expert did a double take at my request as I was the first patient ever to ask. I explained that I would feel less scared of the upcoming operation if I could be curious about it instead.
The surgeon grinned a slow yes as his mind worked out how my wish could be granted. He then asked how I would feel about having an audience of medical students watching too. It was my turn to grin a slow yes: “Everybody’s welcome!”
And so only the bottom half of my body was numb as I was wheeled into the operating theater a few days later. Above my gurney hung four giant monitors, like something out of a science fiction movie, so I could watch in microscopic detail how, rather than cutting me open to remove two benign tumors the size of grapefruit, this surgeon was simply going to use keyhole surgery to cut off their blood supply and starve them instead.
Watching the monitors instantly comforted me, as did all the brightly colored caps the two dozen or so visitors were wearing to personalize their uniform medical scrubs and masks. Party hats indeed! They asked if I would mind some music and I agreed enthusiastically, “Let’s get this party started!”
The first track had me in stitches (a belly laugh being physically impossible): Stevie Wonder’s upbeat classic “Don’t You Worry About a Thing.”
I watched in awe at the precision of the probe gently following my bloodstream to my uterus as if it were a moon-landing, while listening to the students ask the surgeon the same questions going through my own mind. Once the probe was in position, it injected microscopic plastic pellets to cut off the blood supply to both fibroids.
I was hooked up to a self-administering morphine drip for pain relief and hadn’t yet felt the need to dose myself, when a nurse came over and kindly advised me to press the button while I still could. “Trust me, in about five minutes you’re going to wish you’d never been born as these fibroids die off. I'm told it’s harder than childbirth.” Considering the nurse was male and I had never given birth, I had zero context for his advice but took it anyway and pressed the button.
And I was sooooo grateful I did.
To make sure the pellets stayed in place, I had to lie perfectly still for an hour. I have never been in so much physical agony EVER, and it took two nurses (bless their hearts to this day) to hold me down while my body wanted to thrash around like Ellen Ripley giving birth in Alien.
Last month’s article, Metta Draws the Line, drew the parallel between our personal and collective grief over all that has transpired in the first half of 2020. This month’s article is written in the spirit of that male nurse knowing-but-also-not-knowing what to anticipate in the second half of 2020.
Being someone who by nature prefers to look rather than look away, I’ve been following the growing concern over how COVID-19 deaths are recorded and reported in different countries and contexts. While those concerns merit investigation, personally I’m more concerned by a statistic that I’ve only heard openly quoted once: suicide rates around the world have quadrupled over recent months.
There are, of course, obvious reasons that any one of us could name for why this might be happening, but instead of experimenting taking metta off the meditation cushion and out into the world, I’m simply going to get on my metta soapbox this month and introduce the elephant in the room.
Mainstream media outlets have done their best so far to ridicule or sensationalize reports of elite child trafficking and satanic ritual abuse, but more and more of us are waking up to the fact that much of what currently appears in the news to divide us all is in fact distraction from a concern that can unite us all: protecting children.
Some of the most level-headed investigation on the subject that I’ve come across is by British journalist Sonia Poulton. When Shaun Attwood, host of the True Crime Podcast, asked her how she was able to keep researching subjects such as pedophiles in Parliament and Madeleine McCann’s disappearance for decades, her answer both did and didn’t surprise me. In her own words: “I have to work really, really hard on my spiritual core dealing with all this stuff because I am aware I’m up against dark things. I do a lot of meditation.”
I predict that in the weeks ahead, more and more disclosures of just how far-reaching and evil this collective tumor of harming children is will at times make most of us wish we had never been born, particularly those experiencing the resurfacing of suppressed memories of their own childhood traumas.
Other people’s behavior and opinions may well seem alien to us these days, be it pro or anti mask, or vaccine, or fill in your favorite trigger here. No matter how much more heated our differences are bound to become, please also remember what can unite us all: protecting children, whether that be our own inner one or actual outer ones.
We can’t possibly know what may be going on behind the literal and figurative masks of another person, but we can continue to generate as much metta as is humanly possible for ourselves and each other while we all go through the collective equivalent of cutting off the “blood supply” to the sickest parts of society.
I’ll now step down from this month’s unexpected experiment-turned-soapbox to metta-morphose “Don’t You Worry About a Thing,” and let a sweet and timid little elephant named Meena take the spotlight. . .
Everybody’s got a thing
But some don’t know how to handle it
Always reachin’ out in vain
Accepting the things not worth having, but
Don’t you worry ’bout a thing
Don’t you worry ’bout a thing
Cause metta will be standing on the side
When you check it out
Related features from Buddhistdoor Global
Dalai Lama Launches “Happiness Curriculum” for Schoolchildren in New Delhi
Contemplative Practices: Helping Children Enjoy Meditation
A School for the Forgotten Children of the Himalayas
Filling the Emptiness with Love at the Duc Son Orphanage
A Light in the Darkness of the Slums of India