It was a good word to forget, I suppose. This was at the start of my morning sit, which I began, as always, with the metta practice, spreading goodwill. It helps me to follow the formula I've learned, with good thoughts directed first to myself--because how can I spread them to others unless I'm at peace and centered in myself? So the practice begins, May I be happy, may I be free from stress and pain, may I be free from trouble, may I be free from...
And this morning I couldn't find the word. It was as though a hole had opened up somewhere in my brain. I could jump over it to the next part, may I be free from oppression. But try as I might, I couldn't find the missing word. I knew that it began with an "a"--you know how that happens. And I knew exactly what it meant: antipathy, ill-will towards others. In a stronger version, hatred. I could find all kinds of substitutes, but not the word itself.
Which distracted me. I was not able to let go of the search, even though I knew it would be more likely to come to me if I stopped looking for it. Fears came up--particularly, of course, the fear of losing my mind to dementia. I forget things quite a lot these days. I recognize it as an inevitable part of the aging process. But somehow the loss of this one word seemed particularly distressing, perhaps because it's a word that I repeat often, every morning, in the metta practice; because it's a word with which I'm intimately, routinely familiar.
To my mind's relief, it popped up about halfway through my sit: animosity. May I be free from animosity. As I said, if I have to forget a word, that's a good one. Still, it was an odd experience. A bit disorienting, and definitely a distraction from the intention of my sit. May I be free from animosity. May those I love be free from animosity. May all living beings be free from animosity. Would that not be the ticket?