In the trainings of Narrative Design, we have a moment that we call the Storwise moment- If we recall that storywise means “Shaping the stories that are shaping you” we maintain that for a good half of life, we are the propduct of stories that we never got a chance to consent to, that we were not consulted, that we were on the receiving end or we were scripted for a part that we did not chose. These are the stories that are shaping us.
then there comes a moment of pivot, or shift, a tipping point, a boiling point, whatever you call it, but like a see-saw, one side that was ascendant slowly or suddenly swings to the ground and the other end is asccendant. In classical stories, it is told as a converstion story- Saul falls from the horse, or someone wakes up and decides to walk out of their marriage- That one decisive moment that re-sets the course for the immediate future and perpahs for the rest of your life.
When it comes to the story system we are experiencing right now, the Corona Virus story, we have been playing defense from day one. it was if we walked on to the field coscksure that we had this thing licked, and it hardly merited our concern. The people worrying earned our disdain. They were catastrophizing it for their own ends.
Then as the game begins, our opponents start scoring and keep scoring and scoring, and before we have any time to catch our breath, we discover that we are overwhelmed. We can’t wait till half time to reset and work out what has gone on. Playing defense takes up more energy and we start to adopt a losers mentality.
So there comes time for the storywise moment. You decide that you have to take back the story. You determine that if you cannot change the story, you can at least reverse the roles and instead of being shaped by them, you step into the drivers seat and act to shape them. You become the master of your own meaning, not the slave of someone elses.
As Lincoln wrote in 1862,
“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
He was suggesting that there was a slavery of the mind as inhuman and entrapping as economic slavery. The work of liberation in other words never ends. Ending slavery did not end the mindset that propduced slavery, as we in this decade have discovered to our peril.
So when will we really confront the Corona virus? Usually if happens in a story as it moves to the middle, as significance emerges from the consequenes, either experienced or seen ahead. The President is already foreshadowing this with recent comments about getting the economy back to work. For all that his critics say, he is moving toward his storywise moment. He is used to winning, an assertive if not aggressive style and so being on the back foot, or always playing defense clearly is getting to him. For once, he cannot get his bus full of lawyers to sue the virus for damages. Law suits are not going to shut it up anytime soon.
If the president is moving to that pivot, it will soon become our turn. We can live inside the illusion that things will taper off or get better but taking a look at the daily tallies and how much they are increasing, this is out of control.
It reminds me of the 1953 Runaway train that was headed for Union station and there was no driver aboard to pull on the breaks- so too, we know this is coming, and it is going to crash us and the economy- so we better get ourselves and our loved ones out of the way and we better be thinking about how and what we rebuild.
Where we might start is stop building trains that can run out of control- build some remote control system where this does not happen again.