So it is no surprise to hear that I watched this tennis final on TV, and, apart from enjoying the tennis itself, was pleased that it confirmed something more for me about the Fire element. I had already thought that the element of the winner, Naomi Osaka, was Fire, but then I noticed another quirk of the Fire element which I don’t think I had observed so clearly before. Winners always take time to congratulate their opponents, and as she started to do this, she looked around uncertainly until she located her standing a little behind her. She then turned right away from the camera in front of her to look straight at her opponent as she talked, and became so absorbed in talking to her that she seemed to have forgotten all about the camera that was on her. It was almost as if the two of them were alone together, rather than in front of a huge stadium and TV audience. The camera-man had to shuffle round rather awkwardly so that Naomi was still on camera. To me this was an unexpected confirmation of Fire’s need to talk face-to-face to the person they are engaging with.
Afterwards I went through how I thought the other elements would react in a similar situation. I had seen Rafa Nadal, who I think is Wood, and Roger Federer, who I think is Water, accepting their winners’ trophies at different times, and both had continued talking to the interviewer, only glancing briefly over to include their opponents. Neither, I felt, looked as if they wanted to turn their back on the cameras as Naomi had done. I can’t recall any examples of Earth and Metal tennis champions, but I feel that it is probable that these two elements would be unlikely to have the same need to maintain the close eye-contact Naomi wanted. I think Earth would accept its role at the centre of the vast watching audience, whilst Metal, which always likes to remain slightly apart from the people it talks to, would be likely simply to stand there quietly. By contrast, Naomi’s movements were rather jerky and uneasy, and she never seemed to be still.
It was also interesting to read later that she had said that she was cross with herself for forgetting the speech she had prepared beforehand. I think only Fire would be so unselfconscious as to laugh at itself so openly in this way, by “opening its heart” and therefore making itself slightly vulnerable.
It is by being surprised at some quirk of behaviour such as the example I am describing here that I continue to add to my understanding of the elements. Observing the small differences between the way one person behaves compared with another is an excellent way of helping us refine our five element skills.