FLIGHT OF THE MOTH (Another IPS)

FLIGHT OF THE MOTH (Another IPS)

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that the world is a communion of subjects and not a collection of objects.  [Everyone and everything in the world has a story.  You can connect to the story if you lead with curiosity rather than judgment.]

It has occurred to me (many times) that everybody walks through worlds made of stories.  The stories are, after all, how we make sense of ourselves.

Our own stories – our struggles, our mistakes, the choices we make and the results of those choices, the lessons we’ve learned and the ones we keep ignoring – are windows through which we display who and what we are.  Each of us has a unique, custom-made story that we rework every day.

And since there are only so many ways any human can move through the world, each of us is very likely to find similarities and insights in every other person’s story.  These findings can often be applied to our own selves.

Probably that’s why we like looking through other people’s windows.  Probably that’s why other people’s stories fascinate us.

condo-in-los-angeles
“Condo in Los Angeles” by Ron T via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Some smarty-pants scientists who research such things tell us that our brains fire up more strongly as we listen to a story rather than to a list of factoids and dry-as-dust measures and measurements.

Our minds go sailing off into other worlds on the wings of a story well-told.  The best storytellers transport us.

We actually can “see” where they have been and their words take us along with them on their journey-memories.  Our brains rev up and go into overtime.  We remember stories.

That’s a heck of a lot different than the sleepy-time induced by power-point presentations and soporific lectures that pile a lot of facts on our heads and bury us in a confusing avalanche of teeny-tiny details that don’t actually help us put together any kind of coherent picture.

Self-dubbed “writer-actor-storyteller,” David Crabb performs and emcees for The Moth storytelling gatherings in New York.  He also has written a number of books, including an engaging autobiography, BAD KID:  A Memoir On Growing Up Goth and Gay in Texas.

Crabb believes that it is the connection that forms between people that is important in the act of storytelling and story-listening.

He says, “I think some people think it’s all about talking about you, you, you.  But what it really is is reaching out into the void and connecting with people and letting them know they are not alone.”

The Moth, an acclaimed nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, has been flying high for more than 20 years now.  It’s the brainchild of writer George Dawes Green.

Here’s a YouTube video, “The Courage to Create,” that was published by Cole Hahn US in 2016.  It features Green talking about the transformation that happens onstage when storytellers tell a tale and their audiences connect with it.

The Moth attracts all kinds of storytellers – bad and good boys and girls, and the famous, the infamous and the anonymous.  And, many times, the magic happens – over and over again.

HOW THE MOTH WAS BORN AND GREW

George Dawes Green loved the storytelling sessions at his friend Wanda’s home on St. Simon’s Island in Georgia where he grew up.  The moths that gathered around the porch lightbulb and the magic of friends gathered together, drinking bourbon and “talking story” were a part of the parcel.

After he became a published author and was living in New York, Green began missing the story sessions on Wanda’s porch.  He wanted to recreate the experience, where ordinary people could deliver well-crafted, well-told personal stories, for his friends.

Green started hosting gatherings of storytellers in his New York loft, and the magic he remembered kept happening.

By 1997, Green’s idea had grown into a nonprofit organization named after the moths he remembered.  Twenty years later The Moth had presented over 20,000 stories, told live and without notes to standing-room-only crowds worldwide.

Thousands of people have participated in Moth storytelling workshops, performance opportunities, and StorySlam competitions.

There’s a Moth Podcast that’s downloaded more than 44 million times a year as well as a Peabody-award winning radio show, The Moth Radio Hour, which airs on 450-plus public radio stations around the globe.

There’s even a Moth Corporate Program that provides industry-specific storytelling solutions.

And then there are the books.  In 2013, The Moth published its first story collection. The list kept growing.

The latest of them, THE MOTH PRESENTS ALL THESE WONDERS: True Stories About Facing the Unknown, is one compiled by Catherine Burns, The Moth’s long-time artistic director.

It is amazing.

This YouTube Video, “THE MOTH:  The Best Storytellers In The World,” was published in 2013 by THNKR.

It showcases a behind-the-scenes look at the astonishing effort and enthusiasm that goes into getting the storytellers ready for performing in one of the most prestigious live shows in the line-up that the group produces and it touches on what the participating storytellers get out of doing it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It is a revelation that there are all of these people who have the guts to volunteer and come forward to tell their own story in front of a large crowd of strangers.

What’s so mindboggling, however, is that all of the other people who attend the events have made the effort and taken the time to come and listen to strangers, regardless of the topic.

As one commentator pointed out, “In a world of negativity, this…allows people to escape from the concept that everything must be internalized and that we are alone.”

I agree that “it may very well be one of the biggest acts of love this world has to offer.”

Here’s a poem:


CHICKEN SKIN KINE

In the streetlight halo at the corner,

Cocky young ones gather

To whisper warnings to each other

In spooky-story guise.

 

Don’t stop for that white-clad woman

Hitching a ride in the dark night.

Turn to challenge her strange silence,

Find her changed…or just not there.

 

Don’t carry pork over certain mountains.

There are spirits lurking in the passes there.

The pork will draw them to you and they’ll surround you.

Give them what you carry; maybe they’ll release you.

 

Another road, a moonless, starless night.

Quiet paws padding, the snick of sharp claws pacing behind you.

Don’t turn your head; there’s nothing there.

Show no fear; you might make it to the light.

 

Honor now the ancient kapu laid upon this place.

Those there are who pass in proud procession,

Ghostly torches lighting their endless path through time.

Hide.  If they see you, they may take you with them.

 

The darkness presses inward, heavier with each new warning.

Tendrils of gossamer terror quietly spin out, a web

That catches at the day-bright glow of innocence and joy

And leaches into the wanderer’s golden longing for home.

 

Bold laughter chokes

In throats turned tight with dread

Of the easy road home,

Shrouded now by the magical night.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Sunrise, sunrise” by Chris Chabot via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

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28 thoughts on “FLIGHT OF THE MOTH (Another IPS)

  1. Life is an open book or class room and we can learn so much from the lives of people as we stop and listen to hear what they have to say. We all have a story to tell and we can all learn from each other. It is so good to hear the stories of others so that we can identify with. Your post is informative.

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Norman.  Glad you liked the post.

      Please do come again….

  2. Great article! We are hearing more and more about the importance of story telling, even in marketing.  People love to connect, as you say, and they are more willing to pay attention when something is entertaining than when it’s just facts and figures.

    I actually used to work with a lawyer who quit his practice to start giving storytelling seminars to companies and law firms.  He teaches how the act of storytelling can move people a lot more than just rambling on. He started a company called TellPeople. 

    I know for me personally, as soon as a speaker starts off with a story, it’s like a shot of dopamine to the brain – you’re instantly interested.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your story, Nicki.  

      I’m noticing that a number of very good trial lawyers are storytelling whizzes.  It’s a part of their ability to move the judge and the jury to agree with their own thoughts, I think.  And, when you think about it, every court case is a story of one sort or another and there are several ways to order the facts and come up with something that makes sense.

      Interesting career change, I say.  (I bet he likes it better.)

      Please do come again….

  3. I feel like stories is what makes the world get bigger and bigger in terms of advancement. Not only do stories help us connect to one another, but it also really helps one learn a lot from it. When you hear a story, it could inspire you to make a radical change in your life. But, stories can also be really hurtful if done with the wrong intent, but done with the right intent, it can be super super powerful. I appreciate your poem in the end 🙂

    1. Thanks for the visit, Parmi, and for sharing your thoughts.  I do agree that we learn a lot from other people’s stories and, as always, the intent with which the story is gifted to you very often determines how you take it.  

      (I’m glad you liked the poem too.  I get a huge smile when that one happens.  Hee!)

      Please do come again….

  4. NSOH ALIEH LAURINE says:

    I completely relate with that experience of sharing and listening to stories, especially in the evenings, round a fire place. Our elder brother would crack all the jokes in the world, and everyone had a turn to contribute. We all looked forward to the evening. OMG. You brought back some really good memories.

    But this time we are dealing with a visionary who decided to take this experience to the next level, thereby providing a platform for people to express themselves. This is quite important as you rightly said it, it’s a means of reaching out to other people and telling them that they are not alone.

    What a brief but profound post about the MOTH. My first time hearing about it, but will definitely do more research on them. Reading your post made me travel back in time, but I loved the trip. LOL.

    Thanks for such a great post.

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Nsoh.  I do love the work that The Moth does.  I’m glad I was able to turn you on to it.  

      Please do come again….

  5. Kyle Ann Percival says:

    Hi Netta!

    I was totally enthralled by your flight of fancy moth tales! My brain conjured up memories of my own long ago story telling sessions with different groups of friends at different times in my life…what a journey it was.

    As an avid NPR listener I have listened to many of the Story Core series but was completely unaware of the Moth Radio Hour. I will be actively searching for this to give my brain another delightful escape when needed!

    Thanks for including the Youtube video, it was a beautiful explanation of what storytelling comprises, and how it connects people.

    I will be returning to your site to read past articles and connect with your creativity, you have a special gift.

    Thank you!

    Kyle Ann

    1. That’s what I do like to hear!  Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Kyle Ann.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again.

  6. Anastazja says:

    I had not heard of The Moth until reading your article.  

    I think I would say that I am a story teller often in isolation.  I intend, after reading this article, to look further into this association or mix of story tellers.  I am not sure of the word to describe The Moth.  

    I believe that you have described here a very important concept for the process of healing in the world.  We need to not only share our stories, but learn, grow and celebrate the stories others offer to us.  

    Your closing poem is much appreciated.  The “throats turned tight with dread of the easy road home” is what The Moth can heal.  Thanks for this enlightening article.

    1. Anastazja, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  

      My own belief is that we are natural-born storytellers.  Even if the story never comes out of our mouth, we do tend to make stories in our heads so we can understand the world better.  

      I agree that it is a lot better when we can share the stories we make in ways that help other people feel them.  

      I like your thought that it is one way to help heal the world.

      Please do come again.

  7. I have always enjoy reading your poem at the end of your blog, you are very talented 🙂 

    I think that we all love learning and hearing other people stories because we get some value from their experience and we can apply it to our lives. Us humans are a community creatures and I am sure that we are all running to the same problems so why not avoid it by learning from other people’s experience? (I refuse to call it a mistake lol) 

    The Moth concept is very similar to TedTalk which I love. Thank you for sharing the origin about the Moth, I have always wanted to be a better story teller. I learned a lot from the video. 

    Cheers!

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Nuttanee.  

      I like your thought that as community creatures we can certainly learn from each other’s experiences and life-journeys.  It is a truth, I think.

      Please do come again.

  8. We have recently started using the idea that everyone walks through the world in the midst of their own story. 

    For my partner and me, it has helped us improve our communication because instead of playing the blame game (which never has a winner!), we can now more healthily communicate the story we are telling ourselves. 

    This has helped us get out of our own heads and better understand what each other is thinking! 

    1. Tucker, thanks for your visit and for sharing your story.  

      Good on ya!  What a great use for the concept of story-making and story-telling!

      Please do come again….

  9. Hey again, Netta!

    I definitely think there is a lot of wisdom written here, especially when discussing what it takes to be a good storyteller. 

    Now mind you, I’m a terrible storyteller, but I did grow up in a Native American community where storytellers were there in abundance. That being said, I’ve heard some amazing stories over time.

    What I’ve learned from being at a sales job for a while has confirmed this: It’s all about how you connect with the listener. The bonds we create when delivering a message, and communicating in general, are key to being successful in sales, as a comedian, a politician, or even just a person simply telling a story.

    Thank you for talking about this. Learning about The Moth was very enlightening indeed.

    1. Tyson, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I am so pleased the post resonated with you.

      It is a truth that storytelling is a great way to create trust and understanding between people, and that makes good sales, good performances and all kinds of other good bennies.

      Please do come again.

  10. Netta,

    What an enchanting piece! Haunting. 

    I really appreciate your thoughts on story. While logic and facts may be crucial parts of the message especially from a business standpoint, many miss the opportunity to put a fire under their presentation, making their expressions come alive by adding story, and emotion. 

    Appreciate you.

    JR

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, JR.  I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      It is a truth that people like doing business with people who tell good stories from the heart.  It is a thing to ponder, I think.

      Please do come again.

  11. Pentrental says:

    Looking through other people’s windows is an interesting concept and it’s very true that people are interested in other’s stores.  Indeed humans are a vocal species and have been telling stories even before the written word came about. 

    I agree with the idea behind David Crabb‘s quote in that readers engage more with a story they can relate to. The Moth podcasts sound pretty great and I’m looking forward to checking them out!

    1. Pentrental, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  Do check out Moth.  It is a grand endeavor, I think.

      Please do come again.

  12. Flight of the Moth.  I like the look of the article, all of the articles in your site actually. Everything is so nice and clean, and your pictures are great. The navigation is easy to follow.  

    This particular article is great and informative to me. When I read the title, “Flight of The Moth,” I originally thought you might be referring to The Moth, an insect. So it was great to learn that the name of a non-profit was called The Moth, which relates to your niche of writing and story-telling.

    I also like that you’ve included two videos for the reader to hear more about The Moth, and then you end with a poem. Very nicely done.

    Overall, I like your article very much! Where do you actually have a call to action for your readers to buy something, though, or is your site just meant to be a wonderful experience without buying anything?

    Continued success to you,

    Joanie

    1. Joanie, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I am glad you enjoyed the post.

      My “call to action” is for my readers to come visit and to leave comments on all my blathering.  They “pay” me by giving me their attention and taking the time to respond to the thoughts presented in the posts.  

      (I am very pleased with the lot of them, I think.  Many of the comments have been heartful and have expanded the posts wonderfully in all kinds of directions.  Too cool!)

      I am, of course, working on building a sales thing that will eventually get added to the site.  It’s gotten kind of convoluted because now I’m working on building this “world” for my sales staff (who happen to be cute little mice-minions made out of tiny dried coconuts).  

      But, that is another story….

      Stay tuned, and please do come again.

  13. I love this! 

    Listening to stories from people who have the ability to really communicate their experiences  is so amazing. We all learn from each other. Just like reading a good book where the author writes in such a way as he is just talking to the reader.

    I would love to attend one of these gatherings if given the chance.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Marita

    1. Marita, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I am so glad this post resonated with you.  I hope you do have the chance to attend a Moth gathering.  There’s a lot of Moth stories online as well.  They are often pretty fabulous.

      Please do come again.

  14. Mojisola Kupolati (Debbie) says:

    Thanks, Netta for the beautiful poem. A pearl of wisdom has it that when you admire the good in others, it makes room for the goodness to multiply and be available to benefit many. Sure, how amazingly we are always more deeply touched by the story of others. 

    I think it is natural for humans to easily relate and learn from the experiences of others. More so, it is enjoyable to listen to others tell their stories.

    1. Debbie, welcome back.  You are right that it is so much easier to relate to the lessons stories have to teach.  Very often it is like we are able to put ourselves into the other person’s situation in our imagination and what happens to them and how they respond in the story holds lessons we can use in our own lives.

      Me, I always prefer a teaching story to a 2×4 upside the head!  Hee!

      Please do come again 

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