9.9 What if I don’t have a Meta key?

On many keyboards, the Alt key acts as Meta, so try it.

Instead of typing M-a, you can type ESC a. In fact, Emacs converts M-a internally into ESC a anyway (depending on the value of meta-prefix-char). Note that you press Meta and a together, but with ESC, you press ESC, release it, and then press a.