I’m angry at the Delta variant.

I’m angry for all the obvious reasons that most people are. It seemed for a hot second (appropriate because it was right there in the middle of the summer) that we were poised on getting out of this thing. Many people refer to that three-four week period of time in June and July as “the sweet spot.” Life was starting to feel normal-ish. I even had a storytelling show where we were able to have people gathering inside as per the CDC’s guidelines.

And then…the Delta variant. (Enter all the memes that are only funny because we really want to cry.)

Thing is, I’m also angry at the Delta variant for this other, very specific reason.

In my curriculum where I teach people how to cultivate and tell their own stories, an approach I affectionately call, ‘The Story Sandwich,’ I always refer to the importance of finding the change in our storytelling. I call it the meat (or spicy tofu) of the sandwich. In workshops, I break out these two figures side-by-side and talk about that moment in English class when they would talk to us about the “beginning-middle-end” of a story (blah-blah-blah), and especially “exposition-climax-denoument” (again: blah-blah-blah).

Now, I say, let’s take it to chemistry class. Remember in chemistry when we would have this symbol in formulas? It’s the Delta symbol, which means a chemical change has occurred.

If nothing has changed from the beginning to the end of your story, then you may not have been successful, or perhaps it was more of an anecdote. It’s very helpful to understand what’s changed–in yourself, the circumstances, the environment–in order to understand its “so what?”

In this way, every act of storytelling becomes an act of change. As such, we are creating change, laying down templates for the change we want to see in the world each and every time we tell a story.

Unfortunately, now every time I hear the Delta variant I cringe. I cringe because I know that this bulltet point in my storytelling curriculum will forever be tainted. Or at least for a very long time. And I don’t know when or how to bring it back.

I keep wondering how this moment in time is going to change us. Will it be for the better or the worse? Probably both.

It seems we will never go back completely to meeting in person all the time the way we used to, which is, in some instances better for the environment and people with disabilities. It is also diminishing our social capital. Living for a year and half behind masks is making it increasingly difficult to look each other in the eye and truly regard another human in their humanity.

Perhaps the Delta variant is keeping us inside and all verklempt longer than we wanted to be. Perhaps we have a little more work to do with this pandemic. Ok, a lot.

Perhaps we have more work to do with climate justice and disability rights. Ok, a lot.

But Delta means change. And change, for better or worse, is always coming.