I was first introduced to The Moth concept when a friend shared a video on Facebook. It was a short video of a woman who was sharing her immigrant experience. She was on stage and shared her experience with a large group of audience. However, her experience wasn’t just another short story. Her story was full of honesty, fears, aspirations, hopes among others. In short, she was being extremely vulnerable. It is this vulnerability that has made people follow The Moth each time a speaker gets up to share his or her true story.
The number-one quality of all great storytellers is their willingness to be vulnerable, to tell on themselves in front of thousands. Each story is a gift to the listeners. – Catherine Burns, artistic director at The Moth
These experiences have now been compiled in a book called The Moth: All These Wonders. Thematically, the book explores ideas in fear, love, grace, masculinity, exploring new horizons among others.
Some of the standout stories (from among the fifty stories) for me have been:
The Quest for Chad by Arthur Bradford
Arthur talks about his friend, Ronnie Simonsen, who has a dream to meet Chad Everett, a popular actor working in Hollywood. Arthur goes along with Simon to LA, to pursue his friend’s dream. However, despite being there for several weeks, they fail to meet Chad. However, Ronnie’s dreams are still alive, even though he is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The twist in the story is that by fate, or destiny, the lives of Ronnie and Chad are eventually met– thereby showing Arthur that no dreams are too big!
A Phone Call by Auburn Sandstorm
Struggling with personal issues, Auburn mom gives her a number to call for help. At 230am, she makes the call to this number, supposedly a Christian counseller. Once connected, she pours out her heart, telling him everything about her life. The person at the other end of the phone listens to her empathetically. It is towards the end of the phone call that the man finally says, “But the number you called…you got the wrong number.”
A New Home by Dori Samadzai Bonner
Being an immigrant child, whose father had forged papers to escape the brutal regime in Afghanistan, Dori talks about her experience of going to the judge at the courthouse who will determine whether they still in the US or not. The judge finally tells them they have to go back because they came on forged documents. It is at this moment where Dori’s father does something that completely turns the entire scenario around with unpredictable results.
All at Sea by Tim Fitzhigham
A simple story of Tim, who lives in the UK, who wanted to cross the English Channel in a bathtub, because why not. He approaches bathtub companies, the Royal Navy, the shipping company and even the Queen, all in a bid to cross the Channel. He starts off his story by saying that he is rowing like a mad man because the oil slick is engulfing his path. This is a story of sheer determination and passion, and that nothing is indeed impossible, for he is indeed able to cross the Channel in a bathtub!
A Mother’s Journey by Catherine Cross
Shared by a mother, who talks about her daughter who comes out to her as gay. Confronting her beliefs, shaking off her insecurities and disbelief, the mother stands by her daughter, who wants to become a boy. It is a very personal journey for the mother and ultimately realizes that her love for her daughter-now-turned-son triumphs above all hate, prejudice, and non-acceptance.
Adventures Without Borders by Tony Wheeler
A brilliant story shared by Tony (who actually grew up in Pakistan) who traveled the Far Eastern region with his wife (Thailand, Indonesia etc.) Sharing his adventures, he and his wife compile a series of experiences in what is now today famously known as the Lonely Planet Guide.
Then You Will KNow by Moshe Schulman
An extremely personal journey shared by Moshe who grew up in a strict Jewish household, where he was expected to become a rabbi. He wasn’t allowed to experience what other boys his age were experiencing. It is his trip to his aunt in Florida, and to his brother, that he realizes he’s been held captive by his strict faith. He makes a personal decision to move out from those expectations and chains to become the person who he’s meant to be.
Prom by Hasan Minhaj
Hasan, an Indian-American, talks about his experience of high school prom. He’s someone who’s been called “poop” because of his skin color. However, he strikes up a friendship with Bethany, a white girl. They even decide to go to the prom. However, Hasan parents aren’t happy, and on the day of the prom, Hasan receives a rather brutal shock. He learns that lesson that despite the fact everyone was scared of everyone, he had to stay brave through it all.