Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Working Through One's Element

I write this with some trepidation as I am neither skilled nor trained in five element acupuncture.  I am an amateur observer, however, over the years I have enjoyed and benefited from applying information about the five elements in my life.  Five element acupuncture, one of the traditional Chinese schools of healing, focuses on the nature of the elements (wood, earth, fire, metal, water).  Each of us is driven by one element more than the rest, this may be called our guardian element.  This element endows us with certain characteristic traits, which are expressed in a unique way depending on our internal and external environments.

For some time I have been thinking about professions - and how elements provide us with footholds or steep slopes, as we move along a career path.  This is something we don't often think about while choosing a career, perhaps we think of some aspects of our inclinations and try and imagine what the work will involve and require of us.  But many times, we are driven by an interest in a certain area followed by the economics of it, the time and travel constraints that the profession demands.

And so, when I unexpectedly found myself working as a journalist- doing interviews, I did not think too much of it initially.  It was only later, when I began dissecting the niceties and the technical aspects of the work that I began to think what my strengths and weaknesses were, in terms of my element - water.  Initially, I often felt that the warmth and joy of fire, the ease with which it deals with people, would have been an asset.  Or even, the mellifluous and satisfied verbalizing of earth, or the precision of metal with its ability of hitting the nail on the head in inimitable style.  In moments of doubt, the outward drive of wood might have made life simpler.  Instead, I find the jerkiness and uncertain restlessness of water, creating an environment that is not perhaps optimal for conversation.

We all find certain things easy to tackle and others more of a challenge.  The important thing, I realized, was not to lose sight of the intent and then to stay in one's element in a comfortable, (hopefully) balanced state and trust the element to enable one to find one's own way of doing the job. 

After reading several interviews done by other people, I realized that each style was very distinctive - there were some that were strongly judgemental, some where the interviewer intercepted often with his/her own views, some where the interview sounded like an interrogative battle and others that were easy, free flowing.

I realized then that the strength of water is in its fluidity and that I had no desire to put forth any view.  Another strange ability of water is to almost vanish from the scene when it so chooses.  In a sense, I could create a space for words to flow from the speaker without interrupting.  At the end of several interviews, people said to me, "I don't know how I ended up speaking so much, but I enjoyed it."  And various readers (who were familiar with the speakers) wrote or said that while reading the article, they could easily visualize the person speaking.

And, in my own way, I enjoyed it too.  It required quite a bit of concentration to remember my aim and not let preconceived notions get in the way.  I had to allow myself to function in a way that came naturally to me and to the speaker.  This resulted in a cohesive, distinct piece of work, I think.  I learned a lot as I listened to distinguished Indian scientists talking - and it wasn't just about science.

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