Carpe Diem: Stories of our Most Vital Moments

Photo By Micah Cordy

Last week, KCRW presented a very special Mainstage production of The Moth. This unique, storytelling experience is a rare occurrence; most fans are used to the more frequent Moth Storyslams – open mic competitions where anyone with a story can drop their name in a hat for a chance to tell their tale on the evening’s theme.

But Mainstage is different… it’s special in its own way. The flagship Moth program, Mainstage features stories from five luminaries in the arts and sciences, newsmakers and news breakers, and everyday heroes (and even a few reformed villains!). Moth directors help to develop and shape their stories before they are shared with an audience, in this case, a completely packed house at The Avalon Hollywood.

Joby Ogwyn Photo by Micah Cordy
Joby Ogwen: Photo by Micah Cordy

Each story teller revealed a unique tale of triumph – how in their most vital life moments they overcame tragedy, peril, physical, emotional, and mental challenges. From Joby Ogwyn‘s Mount Everst climb to Kemp Power‘s shocking, childhood accident, each personal account tapped in to my emotional core. But none more so than the evening’s closer Tig Notaro, whose painful experience of losing her mother hit close to home and I silently (or maybe not so silently) lost it in the corner.

Tig Notaro Photo by Micah Cordy
Tig Notaro: Photo by Micah Cordy

Salman Rushdie once said, “Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, to rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.” And, I couldn’t help mull over this quote as I listened… shocked, horrified, awestruck that the human beings standing 10 feet in front of me were not crippled. Would I have been? Would I … have overcome? have shared? have been able to think new thoughts? Or would I have been made powerless by my most vital moment? Carpe Diem, arguably the most overused, hackneyed phrase, in this moment, felt like the most powerful two words I had ever heard.

There’s something extra powerful about hearing a story vs. watching a movie or even reading a book. Oral storytelling is our oldest history book, a stringent values teacher, an emotional cornerstone with the ability to inspire or destroy. I can’t explain why or even how this process works, but it just does. Looking at faces of the audience as they shuffled out of the venue, I saw smiles, misty eyes, and tear stained cheeks. But, what I heard, was silence. Perhaps everyone was in silent shock, perhaps everyone was just too excited for the after party at Bardot, or perhaps, everyone was contemplating, just like me, their most vital moment.

If you ever have a chance to attend a Moth Mainstage, I cannot encourage you, beg you, plead with you enough to GO! Whether it’s for a cathartic cry or a heartfelt laugh, the emotional, gut wrenching, awe inspiring roller coaster ride is what makes The Moth so great. And, since I know these performances are so rare, KCRW is bringing back The Moth Radio Hour in mid January on Sunday mornings from 11:00am – Noon.

“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” Isak Dinesen