In a recent video on storytelling seen on Carson Daly’s Last Call, The Moth founder George Dawes Green states great storytelling depends on vulnerability. I wanted to really understand that word, so I revisited several definitions including this one from The Oxford Dictionary: susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. Sounds like a pretty scary place to be.
Scary But Essential
While it may be scary, vulnerability is also a fertile and soulful place to be, as Tuesday’s sold-out Moth Mainstage in Boston indicated. My fellow storytellers told their true stories of transformation and enriched every person in the audience. Jimmy Tamagini told us of his riveting and redemptive journey from serving as a district attorney who prosecuted drug dealers to ultimately becoming a drug addict himself, after surviving a near fatal car accident and two years later, the death of his beloved wife. Satori Shakoor broke our hearts as she spoke of the death of her mother and then her son, only to make us howl with laughter as she came back to life, thanks to menopause and raging hormones.
Anthony Swofford, author of the best-selling Jarhead, recounted his descent into bankruptcy and romantic deceit and his ultimate salvation. And Eric Lander, who helped map the human genetic code (this is not a stupid man), amazed everyone with his initial reluctance to testify in one of the first court cases to use DNA fingerprinting, only to end up testifying for six days and bringing all his science buddies with him. In the end, the experience was the catalyst for The Innocence Project, which has freed more than 300 wrongly accused prisoners, including 17 on death row. Their willingness to be vulnerable — to open their hearts wide — gave the audience much more than entertainment.
Check out George’s comments here — a short but very enjoyable clip, only 3 minutes.
A friend of mine in LA recently directed me to a TED talk by sociologist Brene Brown, who studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. In her TED talk, viewed by more than 4 million, Dr. Brown states that vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love — and according to George Dawes Green, really good stories as well. This TED talk is very funny, and very thought provoking. Enjoy! And if you haven’t already, please sign up to receive my blog in your email inbox by going to the top of this page. Thank you!