— Russell Brand British comedian, actor, and author 1975
Context: The first thing is serenity. The agitation has to end. The itchy irritability, the restlessness, the wanting. So do the lows, the self-loathing, wretched, heavy-hearted, lead-gutted, teary-eyed, dry-mouthed misery. The pain. So do the highs. The wide-eyed, bilious highs, the cheek-chewing, trouble-brewing highs, the never-stopping-till-I-touch-the-sky highs, the up-at-dawn hitting-the-pipe highs, chasing, defacing, heart-racing highs, gagging, shagging, blagging highs. All the things we do to change the way we feel, the way the world looks and tastes: It’s all got to go. So courage is necessary. Courage to change yourself, the one thing you can change. Your attitude and actions. Neither the serenity nor the courage are available to you on your own; if they were, you would’ve found them by now—you’ve been pretty fastidious in your research. God, however you conceptualize him, will have to grant them to you. And whatever you conceptualize God as, with your human mind, your individual brain, made up of instinctive responses, training, and memories, however you conceptualize a power that’s beyond you and the decisions you’ve made so far, your conception will be extremely limited. Likely as limited as my cat’s conception of the Internet. The invisible network of interconnected portals that communicate data are beyond my cat’s comprehension. My cat’s inability to comprehend does not impede the Internet. The World Wide Web (which is incidentally quicker to say than “double-you, double-you, double-you-dot”) will continue to exist, regardless of my cat’s awareness. Pray, then, for wisdom, wisdom to know the difference between things we can change and things we can’t. Likely this will be a lifetime’s work, undertaken one day at a time. Which, for humans, is the way time happens. I don’t have to live the 25th of May 2022 yet. I might never have to. I only have to live in this moment. That’s why meditation comes in handy, and practicing it as a community has benefits too. How are we to achieve real change, conditions in which practices that lead to a different type of consciousness can plausibly be pursued?