Margaret Moth: Still Setting the Storytelling Bar

A few years ago I came across a piece about the passing of CNN photojournalist Margaret Moth. At the age of 59, her passing was not a result of the many war stories she told through her work or even the result of being shot in the face. Rather she had passed away as a result of colon cancer.

However, it was not an article about her death. It was how she lived her life as a bold storyteller. Reading who she was to her colleagues and friends and how she approached her life were a reminder to me that I sought out again today. While I doubt Ms. Moth would say this, I heard myself say: Time to step up your game.

The Role of Storyteller
There is a commitment to what was happening in the world and her role in sharing what was happening that resonated with me. Ms. Moth’s desire to intimately document the wars that tore at countries and communities should remind us of the importance of the ways we hear and tell stories. Access to unflinching and in-the-moment documentation of what happens in our increasingly complicated world is critical to helping shape how we talk about the events – and learn from them.

Often we learn of the world’s events from a removed standpoint. The story is told from the sidelines or through a carefully crafted script. Those stories have value; they allow us to see what is happening with, perhaps, less emotion. A well-crafted script can focus us on the implications of what is happening or make the story more accessible. But Ms. Moth’s desire to tell the story her way – unflinchingly and with dogged determination to share it from within the events as they unfold – is inspiring.

Free of the Doubting “What If”
Ms. Moth’s life seems a testament to a spirit free of the confines of a doubting version of “what if?”; it sets the bar high for other storytellers. This spirit does not throw caution to the winds, but rather fully embraces a commitment to capture the story from within the world – so that the rest of us could see from inside the story. I wish I had met her or seen her work while she was telling these stories.

Instead I will strive to be more like her and step up my game. I will work to release myself from the confines of the doubting “what if” and remember that challenges are mere obstacles to be moved around. And one day, perhaps, someone will describe me as someone who is a bar-setter – even if, on occasion, I also choose to wash my socks rather than attend a party.

Read the CNN article “Fearless to the end: Remembering Margaret Moth” to learn more about her story. I’m curious if and how it will inspire you too.

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