“The most important element in a good story is conflict.”-Beau Willimon, writer and producer of House of Cards
My morning kicked off like any good story. I was a hour into a cup of coffee and the thread of demand was already pulling.
Emails were starting to come in. Notifications were piling up. Text messages were dinging every couple of minutes.
I published one thing, sent another, responded to a third.
“Are you going to take a shower?” my husband asked from the doorway to the office.
“What? Yeah.” I pulled my head above water to answer, not even really thinking.
I carried my phone to the kitchen, downloading first Google Hangout, then Chat, then Meet, all in an attempt to test-drive a video chat before the demand for such things explodes later this morning. Google told me I was the only one in the “room.”
“I poured you some coffee,” he said as he handed me my cup. I was not the only one in this room.
I carried my phone back upstairs. “I just need to see if I can get this to work,” I explained over my shoulder.
I got into and out of the shower, all the while my computer chimed in the other room every time an email came in.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“What? Yeah. Just a second.” I replied.
He wrapped a hand around my arm. My eyes shifted upward and my mind surfaced, slowly.
“I’m not good at this,” I said, tears welling in my eyes.
“You don’t have to be,” he told me. “Just look out and see what’s happening right now.”
And we did. He spotted what looked like a dove in the tree just beyond the front porch. We leaned over the rail together and made silly coo-ing sounds to try to get it to show itself.
“It’s seeing two opposing forces collide with one another that we have story.”Beau Willimon
Two opposing forces – now and later, here and there, home and work – I have never been very good at juggling the collision of the two. To be fully present, does it mean that I am where my body is, where my mind has wandered, where my virtual office takes space? Here and now is divided across several dimensions and platforms. And this morning, as I imagine they will every morning for a while, they collided.
Which is, I guess, what makes this a good story. And, as in every good story, it meant that my torment and tangle, my guilt and indecision put up its dukes to battle it out with everything I love most about the man I married: The antithesis of all this nonsense. The encouragement, clear priority, confidence, and greater purpose. The here and now that was right in front of me.
So, yes, this might be a good story. But I am certainly not the hero of this one.