Someday, I will have to write an entire essay about my first-shrink-(slash)-astrologer.
I’ve written about her in passing, usually when I need to back something up with particularly good wisdom in a particularly pithy way. My first-shrink-(slash)-astrologer, let’s call her “Zifka,” which is the name I gave her in the Young Adult novel I was supposed to write and, for various reasons, blew off, was full of both wisdom and pith. Which meant, from a practical application standpoint, that she was both able to point out why and how my head was stuck up my ass, and make excellent suggestions for the extraction of it, when (or if) I was sufficiently fed up with my condition to actually do something about it.
Which is to say, she called me on my shit in the best of all possible ways.
Anyway, Zifka and I hooked up again on my big trip to the PacNW this past fall. We’d spoken on the phone, here and there, over the years: sometimes as a “tune-up”, for which I happily paid her; sometimes just to shoot the breeze. A lot of breeze accumulates when you really vibe with someone but only get the chance to do it directly every five years or so, and we did us a lot of breeze-shootin’ (and fois-gras profiteroles eatin’, as she’s such a foodie, I’ll even eat lamb hearts and other “dare food” when I’m with her). And it’s cool, I don’t want to be a pig, sniffing around for truffly bits of worldly wisdom when she’s not on the clock. Although, you know, I hoped for them, all the same.
So she talked about being a mom, about living in the PacNW, about being an aging dyke mom to a black kid in the PacNW. We talked about heirloom beans, or somesuch, fifty bucks a pound!! (I told you: foodie.) We talked about wine and Chicago (where we’re both from) and California (where she used to live, and I still do) and how it sucks that thinning hair dictates cut as you get old. We talked a lot about the then-upcoming elections.
And finally, we talked about my trip to the PacNW and what I was trying to accomplish with it. Which I had problems articulating to the rank and file, but which I knew had little to do with my bullshit cover (writing second draft of submission chapters for aforementioned Young Adult novel) and everything to do with (god help me, I’m a walking Somerset Maugham clichÃ©, 64 years later) finding myself. Ugh.
I knew it was borderline shrink territory, but hey, she’s Zifka, Zifka will tell you to GFY in a South Side minute, and make you laugh as you move on to the next subject. But she didn’t: she brought up the concept of Most Beneficent Outcome, or MBO, for short. And it’s so important a concept, I’m giving it its own header*, so future legions of Internet searchers can benefit from Zifka’s wisdom, too, even if Oprah insists on inviting that well-meaning yawner of a self-help dude, Eckhart TOO-lah**.
The “Most Beneficent Outcome” Concept, by Zifka
Instead of focusing on getting a particular thing, put out to the universe that you would like the most beneficent outcome. Point being, the universe is infinitely wiser and more complex than you, and you’re probably asking for something in PARTICULAR because you can’t imagine a fraction of the infinite possible outcomes.
Taking my Seattle trip as an example, I told a lot of people I was going there to write the book, because it was easier than saying I was going to see what would happen.
But the truth was I knew I was a stuck and needed some help processing info and figuring out how to get to the next level. I hadn’t a clue about what I was actually “processing” or what the next level looked like; I didn’t come up there thinking “I need to meet a lot of interesting people, dammit!” Or, “Seattle! That’ll be just the thing for kickstarting a series of workshops teaching people about how to market themselves and finally putting to good use all those wasted years writing ads and fucking around on Twitter!”
Instead, I did Most Beneficent Outcome (not calling it that) and lo, I got these chances to speak, met a slew of interesting new people, and came away with an Actual Clue as to what the hell I was supposed to be doing with the next few years of my life.
It’s really easy to get attached to outcome. Trust me, it’s how I operated the first 41 years of my life. I functioned at a pretty high level, considering, but who knows what I might have achieved had worked my ass of AND held an intention, rather than thinking I was making a downpayment on a very particular outcome.
As you move forward with your goals, you may want to think about the brilliant Zifka and the brilliant Most Beneficent Outcome.
Is it scary? Hells, yeah! At first. And always. But really, what worthwhile new thing isn’t?
Speaking of new things, if there’s a concept floating around out there that’s the same thing as MBO, only called something different, could you please bring it to my attention, preferably in the comments? I like knowing the long and noble history of ideas.
Even if they originate with Eckhart TOO-lah…
*Adam Kayce! Monk at Work! This is one of those things we need to fix on my blog, right? I should have an h-2 header for internal entry callouts, right? Or am I nuts?
**Okay, he’s a really smart, nice guy. Great ideas. But come on, I can’t be the only one who drifts off like Ralph Kramden watching the Late Late Late Show when the guy starts talking.