A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Toastmasters meeting in which a member of my club did a table topic (a short impromptu speech) on our obsessiveness with telephones. When she said something about people going so far as to take the telephone to the bathroom with them, I laughed so loud that my friend Brendan, who was sitting next to me, leaned over and said something like, “Careful, Taline.Your laughter is telling.” And he was so right.
Today, I had a similar experience, except that the speaker was delivering a prepared speech called “Critter Coaching.”
The speaker, a fabulous career coach, gave a speech using hand puppets. For seven minutes, an elephant coached a lion out of his shame of not wanting to be King of the Jungle and helped him take small steps towards pursuing his life’s passion of being a Cowboy Poet. At first, the lion all but collapsed to the floor when talking about his predicament of being forced to succeed his father as King of the Jungle. He is a lion. He is expected to be strong and brave and get blood on his paws and veins in his teeth. But for years, he has written poetry secretly, letting no one know about or read anything he has written. In the short coaching session, the elephant steered the lion out of his shame about being a “failure” and challenged him to chase his dreams, beginning with attending a Cowboy Camp, where he can experience actually being a cowboy, something he had read about but hasn’t known firsthand. Though wilted just moments earlier, the lion bounded with energy and enthusiasm at the prospect of actually being a Cowboy Poet.
I laughed hard through the entire “session.” I laughed at the lion’s overdramatic despair and insistence that his life was out of his control. I laughed at the lion’s physical inability to hold himself upright throughout the difficult conversation. I laughed at the lion’s giddiness upon learning about a Cowboy Camp. I laughed at his fear of just being…himself.
Brendan wasn’t sitting next to me today. But if he had been, I’m confident he would have leaned over and whispered, “Careful, Taline. Your laughter is telling.”