It is odd how a small thought, casually encountered, can lead to much deeper thoughts. I asked somebody what I thought was simply to give me his answer to, in my view, a very simple question. I was surprised to hear him say quickly, ”I’ll have to think about that.” My surprise was because the question deserved no more than a quick answer, and because I would never myself leave a questioner high and dry like this.
Here, then, was yet another lesson in learning to understand
better how different elements respond, in this case to being expected to find a
quick answer to a question. Thinking
further about this, I could not recall a time when I would have answered any question in this way. Instead, if I am unsure of how to answer, I
express this uncertainty immediately in words. It is as though I am trying to find an answer as I talk. This is my Fire element’s dominant official, the Small Intestine, doing
its job of sorting in plain sight, as it were. The friend of whom I asked this simple question, however, is not Fire
but Metal. Was his answer typical of
Metal, then, I asked myself? So I asked
another Metal friend whether he could see himself replying like that, and he confirmed that he definitely could.
So here I had two instances of Metal needing time and space to
think things through before coming to a decision, but making this decision by
themselves rather than in open conversation with me, as Fire would do. This made me wonder about the other elements. Earth, which likes to think things through
thoroughly and slowly, would understand Metal’s reply, but would take longer
reaching a final decision, possibly talking things through slowly with me. Wood is the element closely associated with
decision-making, but might be in danger of making too quick a decision and
sticking to it through thick and thin, without considering too much whether it
is the right one.* When I come to Water,
I am, as always with this hidden element, somewhat uncertain how it will
react. I must ask my Indian Water
friend, Sujata, to help me here.
In a week or so, Guy Caplan and I are holding a seminar for
50 people which we have called “Exploring the Elements”. I think this will be a good occasion to
explore further with the participants the decision-making processes of the
different elements. This should help
confirm or amend what I have written above.
*Added after I posted this blog for the first time: Or Wood, always the inquisitive, enquiring element, might counter my question with a question of its own.