covid-19 in the land of resolutions

Amanda Kassner’s Freytag Pyramid

Many Americans have been trained in the art of literary analysis to ask questions like, Who is the audience? What themes are present? Which genre might this fall into? What might these things symbolize? Is he a Christ-figure?

Where do you find the exposition — rising action — climax — falling action — resolution?

When used openly and mindfully, these questions enable us to explore the facets of a story so as to receive it more holistically and draw insights that add to our lives.

But here in the United States, we prefer results, and we prefer them now. We don’t want to waste time meandering through all the ups and downs of a story. We want the resolution.

Yes, the resolution! We love the resolution. We long for the resolution. We’ve created and grown and rooted our pride in this self-made country of resolutions.

So is it any wonder that the story of COVID-19 made its way to the United States, and our first question was, Where is the resolution?

We talked about flattening our own curves during the exposition; we wanted to make this as anticlimactic as possible. We don’t like living out stories with curves. We hate processes and avoid them at all costs. So we align our thoughts, words and actions with resolutions.

“Think of how wonderful life will be when everything is back to normal!”

“Make sure you come out of this with a new skill — hobby — knowledge set — else you just wasted the greatest growth opportunity of your life.”

“The first thing I’ll do when all of this ends is…”

Imagine. Inspire. Create. Manifest. Become.

The rising action has surely risen — and risen — and risen. It’s escalated behind us for a month. We flip back to earlier pages often but then religiously remind each other of the resolution.

It’s Holy Week. And may also be America’s COVID-19 climax week. And it casts its long shadow over us in our virus-sized resolutions. We’ve written on our calendars to remember the climax of all climaxes today —but many of us will be too preoccupied in with our COVID-19 resolutions to pay any mind.

As these storylines are eerily aligned this week, I can’t help but wonder — have we been trying to identify the audience, themes, genres, symbols, and Christ-figure of this COVID-19 story? Have we been exploring and remembering the same for Christ’s story? Have we even identified the Christ-figure in either stories?

Well, maybe not— but we’ve knit a hat! We’ve become semi-conversational in French! We’ve learned how to cook that Indian dish we saved on Pinterest months ago!

What are we reading? How are we reading? Why are we reading?

Are we even reading?