By Charles Yarborough, L.Ac.
I guess I must have the face of a good
listener because I sure do a lot of it. Standing in line at a coffee
shop recently, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see a pretty,
young lady standing behind me.
“Where have all the decent single men
gone?” she asked, as if we were friends and as if I’d have an answer.
“Did somebody open a giant trap door and they all fell in? I keep
meeting losers!” She had just come from a lunch date with a young man
and was distressed over his self-centeredness and immaturity, as well as
his fear of commitment. “What’s a single woman to do?” she griped.
“Where am I going to find that perfect specimen: a brilliant, young,
studly, BMW-driving, tattooed bad-boy who will ravish me with sweaty
(but not smelly) animal passion and then surprise me by pulling a
gift-boxed, diamond-studded bracelet from under the pillow, engraved
with the words, 'I adore you.'" I didn’t want to spoil her fantasy, but
when a brilliant, studly, BMW-driving, tattooed bad-boy pulls a jeweled
bracelet from under the pillow, it’s usually to put it on his own wrist.
Nature may abhor a vacuum, but it loves a good joke.
The lady in line behind me was, like so many women, on the dating
treadmill. I realized if I didn’t give her a push sideways, she’d keep
stumbling over the same sort of men until she was immobilized by
exhaustion and disgust. I suggested that, instead of filling out on-line
questionnaires, she should consider Chinese Face Reading. It is an
ancient, proven method of forecasting behavior and understanding
She asked, “But how can I read these guys’ faces if I haven’t met them
yet?” I explained that she must start by reading her own.
MY FACE OR YOURS?
We sat down with our coffees. “You must start by having your own
features analyzed,” I said. “Maybe I can help.”
My new friend batted her eyes innocently. “Why me? Why would you give me
a face reading? You should read the face of every guy that asks me out
on a date. That would save me a lot of time!”
I explained that it would save even more time if she were to determine
what her needs are and their degree of reasonableness. That would allow
her to attract appropriate men. It would then be a matter of winnowing
out the best match from a field of best matches. “All right,” she said.
“But I don’t think it’ll work. I’ve already told you the kind of guy I
want.” The kind of guy she described--dangerous but manicured,
profligate but affluent, a bad-boy who was somehow capable of
commitment--was not a person but a list of unresolved contradictions.
What’s more, she had already costumed and scripted the romance, stashing
imaginary props under her lavender-scented pillow. She was
stage-managing the scenario because, despite her supposed craving for
danger, she feared spontaneity. So how did I intend to set her on a new
path to love and commitment? I planned on harnessing the wisdom of
ancient Chinese tradition, with its insights into personality and
CARE TO SEE MY ETCHINGS?
Chinese Face Reading is a tradition that reaches back thousands of
years. It is based on the theory that the face broadcasts your core
energetic profile as well as aspects of character and personality. Time
lines can also be deciphered. How do we read all this? By observing the
shape and size of features, along with tonicity of muscles, shape of
bone and any wrinkles or lines that may be etched in the face. The first
step to reading a face--your own, for instance--is to determine which of
the five energetic “elements” you represent. They are Water, Wood, Fire,
Earth and Metal.
My lady friend’s face, with her dark-circled eyes, well-defined chin
despite a round face, and large-lobed ears suggested that she belonged
to the Water category. Water people often carry an enduring childlike
interest in the natural world. They sense the interconnectedness of all
things earthly and universal, a sense that promises a high level of
purpose in their work, whether they are homemakers, businesspeople or
public figures. If anyone is likely to accept the inevitability of death
and rebirth, and to do so with poise and insight, it is a Water person.
Their connectedness to the inexorable rhythm of life with all its horror
and glory is what sets them apart. While other elemental types may have
to undergo the shattering of ego and the reorganization of personality
in order to accept the insult of obliteration and renewal, this may not
be the case for the Water person.
TO THE MOON, ALICE!
An excellent example of the transcendent mindset of Water people was
demonstrated by the pioneering astronaut Buzz Aldrin as he landed on the
moon. In a gesture of sincerely felt awe and humility (hallmarks of the
Water person), Aldrin brought a halt to communications between Earth and
the moon while he acknowledged his creator. His wife, sitting in a
communications center in Texas, was surprised when he asked for a moment
of silence. She had assumed that, because of his technical expertise, he
was unaware of the deeper significance of his mission. While she didn’t
know Aldrin was taking Communion in space, she now realized she was
witnessing a hidden aspect of her husband’s character.
Aldrin’s Water sensibility kept him tethered--despite his technical
training--to the underlying universal significance of his experience,
and the robust health of his Water element (kidney yang) gave him the
assertiveness to bring NASA to a momentary halt. All Water people are
capable of experiencing this transcendence in their own way, whether
they choose to actuate it or not and whether they express it in an
exalted or degraded manner. My new friend, as it turned out, was a
publicist for a well known designer. Her true passion, however, was for
a project of her own design, one that would bring sustainable clothing
manufacturing to the African subcontinent. It was an idea that
celebrated inter-cultural connectedness--a Water person’s vision at its
finest. But, for every exalted expression of kidney energy (or any other
elemental energy), there is always the potential for a debased version.
In my lady friend’s case, it was an addiction to fortune tellers. These
were people to whom she confided her fears regarding decrepitude and
dying alone. This brings to light another emotion that resonates
with--and depletes--the Water person: fear.
FEAR, MY DEAR
Fear, the mirrored emotion of wonderment and acceptance, is the obstacle
that keeps the Water person from self-realization and it must be
recognized and dealt with; it poses greater danger to this kind of
individual than to the other elemental types. In the quest to overcome
debilitating fear and
Anxiety, the Water person might consider
consulting a qualified therapist. While he or she may not need the
courage for space travel, he or she may need to overcome an innate
tendency for fearful ideation in order to lead a happy and balanced
life. This brings us to the question: who would be the best partner for
my lady friend?
In Chinese tradition, the five energetic elements relate to each other
in various ways. The Earth element interacts with the Water element in
an especially interesting way (called the “controlling cycle”), one
which brings rich texture to personal relationships. The Earth person is
typically square-jawed, square-faced and is notable for his or her
prominent cheek bones. His or her skin may be pasty and they are usually
stocky. This is someone who, despite a common lack of speed, is often
extremely capable and confident. They have an enormous capacity for
generosity but may also tend to overstep boundaries, physically and
emotionally. Within the context of family, the Earth person may make
decisions without consulting his or her partner. This means he or she
may buy a car or plan a family vacation and inadvertently forget to
mention it to all those concerned. Partners of Earth people must be very
clear in establishing boundaries and acceptable behavior. They must
resist giving up their adult obligations in exchange for a safe place
under the Earth person’s umbrella. This is a special challenge for Water
people, since Earth people often descend upon them, sensing fragility
and an opportunity to dominate, to unfurl themselves without restraint
and make decisions without the nuisance of obtaining consent. Such a
relationship is an ideal opportunity for the Water person to develop a
sense of fearlessness and self-definition, and if standing up to the
Earth person doesn’t destroy the relationship, it will only make it
stronger. If both partners have a well developed sense of self-targeted
irony, they’ll enjoy a deep, abiding affinity.
“Find yourself an Earth person,” I advised my lady friend. “And get
yourself into therapy. You’ll need it.” There were, of course, other
elemental types I could have recommended for her. The Wood type, with
its narrow, sinewy face and thick eyebrows, would have been assertive
but would have needed (according to the Chinese cycle of elements) too
much looking after, especially since younger men were the only ones
under consideration. The Metal person, with his pleasant, oval face,
would have tolerated and supported her idiosyncrasies but couldn’t be
expected to challenge her, for fear of losing her. Lastly, the Fire type
with his sparkling eyes, sharp, upturned features and pixie ears, may
have supplied the excitement she needed but--in its twenty-something
incarnation--not the depth or substance she needed.
FRAPPUCINO, SPAM AND AMMO
My lady friend sighed and sipped her frappucino. She looked around the
busy little coffee house where we were sitting. “So that’s what I look
for?” she said. “An Earth type?”
“Yes,” I said. I told her to look around the room and see if she could
find any such man.
“Over there!” she said, gesturing toward a young man with a square face,
reading a magazine. “I’ll take one of those!”
I could see that her husband hunting skills needed some fine tuning.
There was still a lot to learn about face reading; many facial features
had to be examined and balanced against each other. For now, I told her,
kindly observe the man’s nose. There was a line across the topmost
portion of it. According to Chinese tradition, this signified a man who
is very hard on his wife. Take, for instance, the famous American
fundamentalist preacher, who sports such a marking on his proboscis.
It’s little wonder that his wife, when asked by a reporter if she had
ever considered divorcing him, said no, she hadn’t but she had
considered murdering him.
“See the marking on his nose?” I said. “Forget him.”
“Is that all?” said my lady friend, disappointed. “One little thing like
that can ruin it?”
“And his shoes,” I said. “It’s not very Chinese but it’s important. Look
at the shoes. You’d better mix some common sense with that ancient
“Maybe it’s his day off and he doesn’t care how he looks,” she said,
peering at his tar-splotched Keds. “Anyway, it’s what’s inside that
matters. And who cares if his socks don’t match and he’s got Spam on his
shirt?” Her voice was starting to tremble. “It’s what’s inside, after
all. And who knows, maybe he’s allergic to shampoo. That would explain
his stringy hair.” The man lifted his magazine from the table for a
closer read. It was Guns and Ammo. “Oh dear,” my friend shuddered.
I took her by the wrist and pulled her out the door. It was a sunny
California day and we were on Rodeo Drive. The sidewalk was bustling
with shoppers, lively, upscale people--many of them men in nice
shoes--and more than a fair share of them were Earth types. My new
friend looked around, a smile forming on her lips. “Well, well,” she
hummed, giving her wavy hair a flip.
A man strolled out of a jewelry store and, pausing, sent her a wink. He
was wearing gold buckled suede loafers but his handsome, narrow face
told us he wasn’t an Earth type. My lady friend smiled knowingly and
turned away. “Too bad,” she mused. “Ferragamo. Four hundred eighty
dollars a pair. Well, I must get back to the office. My boss will be
looking for me. Thanks for the good advice. Coffee tomorrow?” I watched
her sail across the street and disappear into the sea of shoppers. I
knew that, with the guidance of ancient wisdom, it wouldn’t take her
forever to find a great pair of shoes and everlasting love.