Do you ever hear someone get asked a question and wish they asked you?
This was my case in June, 2005. I sat in a Toastmaster club as area governor elect. (Okay, technically I was appointed. Details, details.) The theme for the meeting was Winnie the Pooh, a theme well used by the Topics Master.
My question was what I would write if I wrote a children's book. That was a fun question. I told them I'd write about an otter raised by a family of beavers. You can imagine what that's like. The otter wants to play while his adoptive parents are getting him to work on the dam. This otter would meet a wolf taken in by a cougar family. “I want to be part of the pack.” “What pack? We aren't a pack.”
However, when I heard the next question, I wished I had gotten that one instead.
“You are Winnie the Pooh. You've been given a free counseling session. Now, you're well adjusted and don't need it. Will you give it to Tigger to help calm him down? Or to Eeyore to cheer him up?”
I was about nine when Disney's Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day came out, which introduced Tigger. I fell in love with Tigger. I wanted to be as bouncy and fun as he was.
Growing up, though, I found my companion and mentor to be gloomy old Eeyore. “It will fall off again,” he said when his tail was put back on him. “Always does.”
If I wrote this blog yesterday, I would have dealt with a topic that interested me, one that would give food for thought. But this has been an Eeyore week for me. Just this week? Maybe all of this year. (Fortunately, we're only half way through January; hope this isn't a trend.)
My Eeyore side has been given plenty to be gloomy about. My wife's dealing with health problems. The only presidential candidate I could be excited about finished 6th in Iowa and dropped out. My Amazon review of that candidate's auto-biography has the current line “1 out of 6 find this review helpful.” (My hunch is that the five who found that not helpful did so solely because I gave a five star review to a book they disagreed with, but still it's discouraging.)
Also, I received a rejection letter (okay, e-mail) from an agent who kindly mentions my characters and plot don't resonate with him. Not much to encourage me to write, something I've been struggling to find time to do. To be honest, I'm even wondering if writing is what I'm supposed to be doing.
Did the person who got the counseling question think Eeyore was the one who needed counseling? No, she thought it was Tigger who was too hyper. I can identify. Sometimes, my Tigger tries to compensate for the Eeyore. Time to get bouncy. Find other activities. Keep busy, busy, busy, so I don't have time to be gloomy, gloomy, gloomy.
So how would I have answered the question?
Simple. I would have given the counseling to neither of them. Rather, I'd get them Tigger and Eeyore to counsel each other. Have Eeyore kindly mellow out Tigger, while Tigger gives Eeyore something to be cheerful about.
That's one thing good about the ACFW meetings or critique groups. We can point out areas of improvement but give encouragement at the same time. (This is one of Toastmaster's strengths, by the way.)
And the counseling session? I'd give that to grouchy Rabbit.