I was with a Wood friend today and after a few hours in her company I realised that I wanted to ask her an odd question, which was, “Do you ever have doubts?” I wondered why this question had popped into my mind and realised it was because the hours with her had in a subtle way undermined me. She seemed so sure of everything she said, stating everything as an established fact. It was as if I was listening to many statements all having the effect of a pronouncement, a kind of “this is so”, and “that is so” and “that is all there is about it.”
I asked myself why this had thrown me as much as it
obviously did, because here I am now half a day later still slightly
disturbed. Mulling this over, as I
always do when something happens which throws me off-balance, I realised that
the strong certainty with which she talked about things had caught me on the
hop by highlighting what I felt were my own uncertainties and making them look
If I look carefully at the times when I think of myself as
uncertain, it is not in fact the result of weakness, rather the reverse. It represents merely the necessary time my
Inner Fire (Small Intestine) needs to weigh up possible alternatives, because I
always have to allow myself to see two sides of every situation. In contrast to Wood I am asking myself: “It may be like this, but
I must also consider whether it may on the other hand be like this.” And then my Inner Fire carries on with its
ceaseless work of sorting what it is right for the Heart to do.
The Wood element, on the other hand, has other
priorities. Not for Wood is the luxury
of weighing up pros and cons. It is
there to get on with things, and its decisions have to be rapid and taken in a “no
turning back” kind of spirit. Once made,
these decisions have to be put into effect as soon as possible, and once it has
decided what its opinion about anything is, that fixes it, if not for all time,
then certainly for the immediate future.
During the time I spent with my Wood friend, I heard many statements of
fact which sounded as though they were my friend’s firm opinions. With each of her emphatic statements I could
feel any confidence in my own certainties fading a little, as my Small
Intestine tried to take on board what was being so firmly offered as fact. It often felt itself swayed by these dogmatic
statements because it couldn’t give itself enough time to assess whether at
heart it agreed with them or not.
This was another important lesson for me on the differences
between Wood’s ability to make decision and my own, and also gave me further
insights into Inner Fire’s potential weaknesses, as well as its potential
strengths. These are related to its need
always to see the other side of the question and therefore to evaluate the
relative merits of the arguments being presented to it. I feel
that Wood has no such hesitations. Once
having made up its mind, that is it. And
as I put it myself, it can’t afford to have doubts, because doubts will hold it
back from acting, and action is above all what Wood wants.
Thus do I learn a little more each day about myself, about
my Inner Fire and about my relationship to the Wood element.