As everybody knows, what I enjoy above all things is people-watching wherever I am. And today, over my morning cup of tea and toast in a local café, I became fascinated by another illustration of the oddities of human behaviour and how everything we do reveals something about ourselves and the elements which direct our lives.
The café was only half-full, with many of its small tables
unoccupied, providing plenty of choice for newcomers. It had a counter with six
stools, two tables for four people and six tables for two people. I started to notice that the abundance of
choice itself was proving problematic to some people as they came in. If only one table had been unoccupied, I
realised the choice of where to sit would have been simple, because it would
have made itself. Here, though, the
possibility of many different choices presented itself. A woman came in, and I watched as she looked
round, hesitated for quite a time, and then started to move round a few
tables. Eventually she settled herself
down at a table next to one of the occupied tables. It looked as though she was trying to draw
herself as close as she could to another group of people, without actually
joining them at their table.
I contrasted this with my own choice of seating a few
minutes earlier. Here I had quickly
checked all the tables as I came in, trying to find one that was evenly spaced
between the occupied tables, and had felt myself fortunate to find just what I
like, which is always having some space between me and other people. I realised I would certainly not have sat
myself down next to somebody on the next table, as she had done, if there had
been more room elsewhere. I had
deliberately chosen to distance myself as far as possible from my fellow
guests. Not only was I trying to
distance myself but I was also attempting to do this in, to me, the most
physically harmonious way possible, for I had chosen a table which positioned
me carefully at equal distances from each of two other occupied tables, with an
unoccupied table on either side, creating a kind of a pattern. (The Small Intestine likes to put things in
order and sees things in terms of patterns wherever possible.)
The next person who came in now had less choice, but still
hesitated, first looking at the long counter, but then deciding to sit at a
table, and again taking a little time to choose at which table to sit. The man following her, however, plonked
himself down at the counter without looking round at all, even though the
counter was close to the now mainly occupied tables, and there was plenty of
space elsewhere. So obviously, unlike
me, he didn’t mind being pushed up close to other people, and hardly seemed to
notice his surroundings.
This reminded me of the cartoon of a theatre audience with
only two couples attending, in which the couples seat themselves one behind the
other, with the whole of the rest of the auditorium completely empty, and the
woman in the row behind asks the woman in front to take off her hat, as she
can’t see the stage. I always think of
this cartoon when I go to my newly-opened local cinema, and find myself each
time in a fairly empty auditorium, and each time annoy myself by not being able
to decide where to sit, because there is so much choice. The same is obviously true for many people,
as I see my fellow cinema attendees hesitating for quite a long time before
deciding in which of the many empty rows of seats and the many empty seats in
these rows to sit.
Of course, being me, I had to try to relate this behaviour
to the different elements, starting with my own. Is it typical of Fire to be as
cautious as to where it positions itself in relation to other people as I
am? I am very aware of how close other
people get to me and realise that I welcome approaches from people I accept as
being safe to be with (my Heart Protector working actively here), but am very
hesitant to allow the kind of close contact enjoyed by those who welcome group
hugs, a very Earth element pleasure, I think.
The young woman who sat herself down so close to another
group may well have been Earth, or at least had strong Earth qualities, needing
the closeness of others around her.
Water, too, though, is in need of the company of others, but in a
slightly different way, and this woman did not show the kind of hesitation I
think I would have expected of Water, a hesitation combined with that quick
glance round to check what is going on around it, and ensure that no danger
lurks. This is often Water’s way as it
enters a new space, and one which can therefore potentially represent a risk. I was a little more unsure how Wood would
seat itself, but I think it would undoubtedly be less concerned with who the
people were it was sitting itself amongst than either I would be or the woman
who came into the café after me.
And what about Metal, then?
Here I am even more unsure. I
feel it would certainly slip in more quietly and unobtrusively, as the man who
settled himself down quickly did, for this is the element with the lightest
tread of all, but would it look around and seek to position itself in a
specific relation to other customers, or simply ignore them? I decided that I must ask my Metal friends
This is how this morning’s breakfast gave me another lesson
in the elements.