By Vincent Lyn
People are struggling to cope with what is being labeled the ‘New Norm’. Everyone I speak with lately seems to be busier than ever all running around like jackrabbits, back on the hamster wheel and it’s spinning faster and faster and faster. As one friend said when you struggled before this new normal has become everyday life in our eyes. One friend went so far to call his work hellacious lately and to say it’s the world trying to get back what was. But people don’t realize you can’t go back as if that was supposedly better? And so it comes down to fear and desperation the key ingredients to the driving motivation of mankind’s innate behavior. All comes down to death and the bondage we are indebted into trying to avoid the reality of. As though we have any power to do so. Though I’ve always believed most people sadly don’t have the strength to face their own shortcomings. To quote a line from Clint Eastwood, “A man has to know his limitations”. Another friend in NYC said it feels like a wasteland and the ‘Purge’ has begun. It surely feels like we are on the precipice of something bigger than any of us want to face. And so we stay on the hamster wheel disconnected from reality trying to feel ‘normal’ never wanting to get out of the complacency mode.
Just walk through town, any town and see how many people don’t wear a facemask anymore, most people have had enough and just the fact they don’t want to anymore makes them feel a little semblance of ‘normal’. Bizarre behavior considering there is still a pandemic going on but as a fellow human being it’s understandable. We want to feel ‘normal’. Exactly what does that even mean anymore?
With COVID-19, riots, looting, shootings, police brutality, fires, floods, hurricanes, unemployment, shuttered businesses, racism, xenophobia, prejudice, discrimination, vigilantism etc., and we have an election coming soon that could change the face of the country and the world? But no matter how much death and destruction continue and it will, from all of the above the election will take precedence and nothing will disrupt it. A friend reminded me of a rescue & recovery mission I was on in Ghana to rescue children from trafficking. It was called off at the 11th hour by the government and why because there was an election that year, and it would’ve implicated the government in doing nothing to stem the tide of child slavery. A reminder that no matter how bad things get COVID-19 collective death count of 300,000 and hundreds more shootings and continued burning of city after city, it won’t change what happens come November.
Since I left New York City a month ago now in Southern Florida I feel like I went into early retirement. Chuckling to myself; but seriously that’s how it feels. The sunshine state, palm trees, fresh coconut water, swimming everyday, followed by my daily exercise regimen while listening to Rod Lucas Best Smooth Jazz Host from the U.K and lets not forget my birthday present the tranquil respite of swinging to and fro in my hammock. Spend 2–3 hours on the piano, and write a new article if the inspiration allows. Teach some zoom classes and participate in an international conference on occasion. One of my favorite pastimes I have always been an audiophile enthusiast so I purchased a new turntable so have been listening to vinyl lately which is such a treat. Plus the living room here at the home has 16ft wooden ceilings so the acoustics are amazing. One would say I have the life of O’Reilly.
But as a Grammy artist my professional life has been turned upside down like the more than 12 million people who work in the entertainment industry. This industry is dependent on social gatherings, music and art are critical to a cheerful and balanced society and everyone’s career and the entire industry has indefinitely been put on hold. Back in February I was contracted to open Carnegie Hall season this October, together with the release of a new CD, but like everything else it was canceled because of COVID-19. The Director at Carnegie said she would let me know updates by this December for the following season 2021. But it’s anyone’s guess at this point. I was invited to Rome, Italy this past April to attend an International Martial Arts Gala and in May to give martial arts seminars in Lisbon, Portugal. In June I was supposed to be in Lebanon and Syria to bring donations of medical and scholastic supplies and clothes for the refugee organizations and to bring supplies to Uganda next month but all these trips were canceled.
This is the reality that has hit us all in different ways and yes I am still extremely fortunate compared to many. I’m constantly reminded of that all the time, it’s like a megaphone screaming in my ear. Everyday I hear from my colleagues and children in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Uganda, and Ghana of their awful plight and horrendous daily existence struggling to get through another day and wondering whether or not they will see the sun come up. I hear their emotional pleas for help and do what little I can from 8,000 miles away. As an artist I can be patient and continue to practice and write new music but as a humanitarian children can’t wait to be clothed and especially fed. Children have died because of the after affects of COVID-19 from famine and disease. People die everyday from all sorts of things and the coronavirus surely reminds us of that but these children are dying on my watch. So I’m struggling to make sense of it all and sometimes I feel utterly helpless under the present circumstances until international travel is made somewhat more easily accessible.
COVID-19 has traumatized many and the mental health affects have seriously affected tens of thousands of people. People feel powerless and paralyzed, wounded. It can possibly be a series of events so extreme that you’re left feeling completely powerless. This feeling of helplessness manifests on two levels. On a cognitive level, trauma overwhelms the areas of the brain responsible for problem solving and judgment. When this happens, you can’t think on your feet, find a solution to make things better, or problem-solve to reduce the grip of the traumatic effect on you. On a physical level, trauma paralyzes a person with fear and causes extreme fatigue. Thankfully there are things we can do to reduce the feelings of helplessness.
The way you talk to yourself can make you move through trauma better. When it’s unhealthy, self-talk keeps us stuck and makes us feel helpless. Examples like: “Why is this happening to me? I can’t believe this! I have the worst luck ever. Nothing in life ever goes my way.” Healthy self-talk inspires healthy action. It is proactive and empowering. Examples such as: “What can I do to make this better? This is bad right now, but it won’t always be. I can get through this.” Feeling powerless is demoralizing. But there are many small steps you can take to reduce feelings of helplessness and focus on healthy action. This may start from better understanding your traumatic situation and personal patterns, practicing compassionate, healthy self-talk and becoming attuned to yourself and your world.
“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move on.”
CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children
Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization
Economic & Social Council at United Nations
Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency
Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts