To Be Inspiring You Have To Be Inspired.

I called my friend Carmen wailing, blubbering like my heart had been broken. It had been.

In that moment.

The Moth (PRX and NPR Radio and Podcast Storytelling show) was coming to Vancouver for the FIRST time and they didn’t ask me to perform. HOW was this possible I rallied on the phone to Carmen “I’m THE BEST storyteller in Vancouver, I should be ON that stage.” And I meant it too.

It has been a dream of mine to perform at the illustrious Moth for a decade. I even planned a 2000 mile road trip with my husband and two babies a few years back to drop my name in the hat, hoping it would be pulled so I could possibly get on the stage to tell a story. Thank God my husband gently and slowly vetoed the idea…and the idea of performing at The Moth one day faded…until I heard the news. And then I freaked the fuck out.

Before I called Carmen crying I’d emailed the press agent. I emailed a friend of a friend who I thought might know someone who once worked for the Moth. I wrote a hysterical email to the publicist telling them that they had to forward this email to the producers because I’d been forgotten and I live in this city and I had to perform.

“I know the show’s only a week away but I believe in miracles. I have to do this. I have to be on that stage.”

The miracle I was considering was that one of the storytellers would die, so at the last minute, I could grab their slot.

So now, on the phone with my friend, Carmen said “Em, they only asked one Canadian to perform in the show and they asked me because I was in the Chilean resistance against the Pinochet dictatorship and I have 2 best-selling books, it’s not personal.” That made me feel a titch better.

“How about…” my dear friend said “I give you comps and you can be my date to the private after-party and I will introduce you to the producer. Then you can ask for her email and pitch her personally? Will that stop the tears?”

“Yes. I think that would” I sniffed.

My first mentor and clown teacher John from “Mump and Smoot” was in town so I invited him as my date. Sitting in the Vogue theatre, with the man who put me on my creative path, the man who’s spirit I invoke before I walk onstage, now a friend- 20 years later- clutching his leg laughing, leaning on his shoulder crying…at these incredible and superbly told stories was…one of those moments. You know?

Those there I was and here I am moments.

The show was incredible.

And watching these artists perform I saw clearly- that of course I am NOT the best storyteller in Vancouver, and really, all these artists are supremely better than me at their craft and what an inspiration.

I spend so much of my time trying….to be good. Trying to be the best actually. Trying to make a name for myself. My intentions are good- to put a stamp on herstory that is meaningful and useful to the world.

But I’m always the one trying to inspire.

And tonight, with my first mentor, looking up at these champions in their field, not in jealousy or resentment, but with profound gratitude, that I am on the path that fills my entire being with light and I still have so much to learn, and tonight instead of trying to be the inspiration, with the lights shining on my face, I let myself be utterly, head bowed, inspired.

I got to the private party after and I maneuvered myself to sit beside the woman who could get me “in.”

“Hi” I introduced myself “I’m Emelia, you may have gotten an email from me, I’ve heard we’re kindred spirits and…?” “Oh yes” she interrupted “it was an…effusive email. Right?” This producer very quickly then turned her chair, like literally turned her chair so her back was to me, cutting off all further conversation. She could smell my stink.

So instead I spent the night meeting the performers and being proud of my friend Carmen who absolutely killed it. And you know what, surprise, surprise, they were all normal people just like me, trying to be good, trying to make it, trying to open their hearts to the world and grateful for the fan-girl in the room with her glowing reports of their genius on stage.

I left early, I knew I’d been invited but this night was for them to celebrate, not for me, to make a connection…to get an email…to push onwards in my goal of storytelling world domination.

But before I left I tapped the producer on the shoulder. “You curated an incredible evening and thank you for sharing it with our city. I’ll be sending you my storytelling pitch on The Moth phone line, right alongside the rest of the world…” There was no request for special treatment or favours.

I got exactly what I needed but of course didn’t know I needed that night. The HOLY FUCK reminder that to be inspiring- you have to constantly be inspired.

Humbled. In Awe. Gracious. Looking up to…and brought to your knees with how much more there still is to know. And excited by that.

She turned her chair towards me. The smell was gone. She beamed. “I look forward to hearing it.” She said.