Dear Vicki: At a family reunion last spring, my sister Leah and I decided we’d go see the fall foliage in New England this year. We’re both single, have been out of college for a few years, and thought this would be a fun thing to do together. Well, it isn’t turning out to be that fun. At least the planning stage. Really, Leah doesn’t even want to plan! She just wants to get in the car and start driving. Does she think we’ll just sleep in the car when all the quaint little inns are sold out? I don’t get it; she was flaky as a child, but this is serious. Every time I call her to discuss the trip, she says that part of the adventure is discovering what’s out there and we’ll take it as it comes. What does that mean? I’m wondering if this is a big mistake. Fall is just a few months away! How do I make Leah see we could be driving into chaos if we don’t have a plan? Signed: Frustrated in Farmington
Dear Frustrated: Well, this is certainly an excellent example of how different our elemental personalities can be! The fact that you have a strong desire to plan things, are frustrated that you can’t plan, and dearly want to avoid “driving into chaos” makes it pretty clear that you have a primary Wood personality. Two key attributes of Wood people are their appreciation of structure and their focus on the future. When those two are combined, the end result is almost always a plan. Wood personalities excel at looking to the future and deciding what they think the future should hold. It’s a rare Wood person who does not have a plan for almost everything. And thwarted Wood people get frustrated.
Leah, on the other hand, is clearly not a Wood personality. Her desire to take things as they come is a very common trait of the primary Water personality. Water people revel in the wonder of mystery and discovery. They are happiest going with the flow, which some of the more structured elemental personalities (Wood and Metal) often see as “flaky.” In nature, water has very little structure of its own – it’s happy taking any structure offered to it, be that river bed, bottle, or bowl. Trust sits in the Water element and Water people trust that everything will turn out as it should. One would certainly never say that about a Wood personality.