Thursday, January 20, 2011

But You Said

“It happened just like you said!”

I get that a lot. That kind of feedback gives me a lot of satisfaction, I must admit. After all, the future isn’t a fixed thing, nailed down to the floor like a carpet of yellow brick roses or whatever mixed metaphor seems right. I’m a big fan of free will. Your choices do make all the difference.

People in the position of expecting the future, especially out loud, are always subject to criticism. No matter how scientific the process is or isn’t, the guys on Wall Street basically didn’t tell everyone in time to run for their financial lives, not early enough, not well enough, not clearly enough, not loudly enough. Will those of you who feel you are currently prosperous enough and have plenty of disposable income please step over here to the right? You can go. And those of you in the line to the left, please wait patiently to explain to the financial guys how your life is now much more difficult. One at a time, please. Weapons in the basket, please. Yes, all of them. This is a non-violent feedback session.

I’d hate to be in the business of forecasting weather. When I lived in the Midwest, the only thing that was listened to more closely than commodities pricing was the weather forecast. And, poor saps, they could be so wrong. Here in Northern California, I often giggle at the struggling weather folk who, in a moderate Mediterranean climate, are likely to be bored senseless at the lack of excitement. So they start to report “bitter” cold temperatures of the low 40’s and “searing” heat in the lower 80’s.

Sometimes forecasters can get so embedded in their own worlds that they become delighted when any extreme occurs. So financial crashes and hurricanes or earthquakes tend to bring out a sparkle to their eyes and a trace of foam around their lips. Hey, they’ve been waiting all year for something cool to happen. But they’ve been in their bubble of forecasting for so long that they’ve forgotten that hurricanes destroy property and kill people who happen to be in their way. Naturally, point of view is important. Insurance adjusters, bless their hearts, are delighted (if they are polite, they are at least quietly delighted) when a big fire occurs or a big storm hits. It means work for them. People like work. They like to earn a living. But the people who are charged with forecasting sometimes should keep their delight in anything happening, good or bad, to themselves because they forget, on occasion, that their customers are the people affected by the event. It’s not really about the event itself.

This kind of work, whether it’s my tarot cards or something considered more traditionally scientific, has to be centered around the client, including the way the information is delivered.

Page of Cups
Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

I had the delight to run into one of my clients this recently. She was radiant and introduced me to her friend, a nice-looking young man with a gentle handshake.

“It all happened just like you said!” she was breathless. “This is the guy you said I would meet.” He blushed and offered his hand. I smiled, pleased to meet him.

Indeed, he certainly fit the description and impression I had gotten when I read for her months before. Just from a handshake and introduction, I wouldn’t presume to predict whether they are a “happily ever after” couple. But it gave me joy to see my client transformed from someone haunted by unhappiness to this. She positively twinkled. It was little that I did. She chose to be happy, to break an unhappy pattern in her life. I know it wasn’t easy. Seeing her like this was better for me than any verbal or written feedback.

Of course, not all my feedback is positive. Just recently I had someone call what I do nonsense. This person had theoretically been my good friend for 20 years. But tarot, writing about tarot and apparently the one posting she responded to tipped it over the edge. I quickly complied with her request to be removed from my list of friends. Quickly, but not happily.

She and I had been through a lot together. She had been my boss and sometimes the only sane person, perhaps merely my kind of insane, I had to talk to in a very stressful job. I worked for her for five years. She gave me good and timely advice out of the kindness of her heart, and from someone so strong, outspoken and ferocious, I felt that was a huge gift. I provided her with two job opportunities which she was successful in obtaining and I was pleased to have someone so strong as a co-worker. We went separate ways to different companies, yet kept in touch on a regular basis to discuss the fun and crazy life in corporate technology. But on this topic, we differed, enough so that she expressed her disgust and need to end our friendship.

Usually, people drop people who read tarot cards for religious reasons, mistaking the work we do with tarot to be our religion or adhering to their own beliefs which do not leave room for this alternative as being something that can be good. That’s happened too. But it wasn’t the case with my friend; it was closer to political and ideological without being a religious objection. It’s true that I can’t agree with her political conclusions, but I also chose not to engage her in an intense political discussion ever. I always wanted to enjoy what I like about her and let the rest of her be. That doesn’t work for everyone, though, and in a way I understand her decision.

Sad as I am to lose her wonderfully unique point of view, her feedback as well as that from my client above is, at least, clear. It’s a BIG NO from my former friend and a BIG YES from my client. More difficult, of course, is that curiously ambiguous feedback.

In a recent exchange where a tarot enthusiast was looking for clarification of a reading he or she did for themselves, I provided a clear but I was sure a bit difficult message. This person had asked for advice and guidance from cards, had difficulty interpreting them, put the question out to the community of readers. It was a difficult personal situation for the person and someone they cared about deeply. My message, after reading the cards they drew, was one of tough love.

I got a response that is all too common. The sitter/client/recipient of the reading thanked me cheerfully and stated in the clearest terms possible their intent to do exactly the opposite of the advice given. In this situation, some readers become angry. To me, that anger is just as misdirected as the excitement of the weather forecaster at the thought of a hurricane hitting the coast. The reader was paid or else freely offered their time.

But nothing at all negates the client’s free will to do whatever they want with the advice. It is theirs to embrace or discard. Once my reading leaves my lips, or in the case of email readings, my send key, it is no longer mine. I’m a translator. I’m not in charge. I was just listening to the fish and giving the message that was asked for. That, and trying to help. The client must exercise their own choices, whether they have a forecast or not. He or she, like anyone else, must select the next steps, make choices, and own the outcome. Neither the cards nor I have told them what to do. And clients who are looking for me to tell them what to do, how to live their lives, or what decision to make might be disappointed. I want to give them help so that they can make their own decisions.

Still, all in all, if I had my druthers, I’d rather have, “But you said…” followed by, “and that’s just what happened!” And, if the outcome is happy, then I get to smile too.

Best wishes.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Marcia! I'd like to pass the Stylish Blogger Award to you. You may pick it up at Keep up the great blogging!