It’s Tougher Than I Thought

COVID-19 has changed the world on a fundamental level. There’s no getting around it: our world will eventually be seen as pre- or post-Coronavirus, for better or worse.

People’s lives have been affected in ways they no doubt could possibly have imagined at the beginning of this year. I am no exception. Although I must admit, I’m quite surprised by the way the bug got its hooks into me.

The people actually getting ill and dying have obviously gotten the worst of this pandemic. On that there can be no question. Those people are followed closely by those who have seen themselves affected financially. They have lost jobs, businesses, and homes. Then there are those on the front lines, be they medical specialists or first responders, being forced to see the impact of this virus day in and day out without a break. How can you not feel for these people? The bug has absolutely devastated more people than we can count. And it’s nowhere near being done, even if there are a couple of vaccines in the works.

I thought I had walked around the bug. I was able to get my major objectives accomplished, even if the world was trying to go to shit around me. I was proud of myself for being undeterred and keeping my eyes on the prize. In the end, I thought I had managed to give the bug the slip.

I was wrong.

I just knew COVID was going to give me ample opportunity to work on my next book. I just knew it was going to make my writing easier. All the artists will be stuck at home where I can find them. I can listen to records and review them to my heart’s content. I didn’t have to worry about going to work. My retirement package helped me get where I wanted to go. All I had to do was get up, head into my home office, and let ‘er rip!

Or so I thought.

I’ve gotten some writing done, yes. The book is started, and I know where I want it to go. I’ve conducted many of the needed interviews. And I’ve gotten stacks of records from stores, Amazon, and various record labels. I have more than enough to do. But there have been many days when I just … can’t.

All I can think of is what’s going on out there. People sick, people dying, people in complete denial (some, according to medical workers, as they die from the very thing they don’t believe exists), people refusing to do the ONE thing that would help things “get back to normal,” which is what they so eagerly crave. It can be difficult to wrap one’s head around.

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the true rise of Black Lives Matter; the so-called friends I have lost or rid myself of because of this issue (though calling it a “loss” is probably a stretch, at best); the death of my first captain at the hands of looters while he tried to protect a pawnshop; the death of one of the first young officers I trained at the hands of a maniac whose true motive remains a complete and utter mystery to me; an election cycle that has divided a nation more than anything I’ve ever seen.

Let’s face it: 2020 has been a bitch. More accurately — and from a mental health standpoint — 2020 has been unbelievably traumatizing, on multiple levels. Even those of us who feel like we dodged the bullet have been walloped along with everyone else. People in denial are not exempt, either. Tell others to “suck it up” all you want. Your day of shock is coming. And it will be devastating.

Creative people are free thinkers. Words, music, and other art forms flow from an untethered mind. Nobody’s world is perfect, but one or two small distractions rarely get in the way of a mind ready to make art. Three or four major distractions (along with a few minor ones) on the other hand … things have a way of grinding to a halt.

You want to block out the outside world. You want to steel yourself against any and all bad news. You seek avenues of escape. You long for anything that allows you to turn your brain OFF and lose yourself in something else, regardless of how ridiculous. You binge TV shows. You watch every movie in a franchise. You play video games nearly start to finish. You do ANYTHING to keep from reminding yourself that the world is royally screwed up outside your door.

My dad had a placard on his desk that read, “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your objective.” Pre-COVID, few things have made more sense. Now … I don’t know.

It’s tougher. It’s much, much tougher. The world has turned upside down. Sometimes it seems like the objective has become the distraction. It will be awhile before the world rights itself. All one can do is hang on and make the most of things.

My first profession revolved around journalism (not to be confused with the ultra-biased, opinion-driven, sensationalistic drivel coming from the so-called “news” stations running 24 hours a day on cable). This means I have a fascination with the news and world events. I have at least half a dozen sources popping headlines on my phone all day. They can be quite the distraction. I know I should turn them off, but God forbid I miss something I really need to know! I have no idea what that might be, but I will when I see it.

In the end, I have deadlines to meet. I have more interviews to conduct, edit, and publish. I have records to listen to and review. I’m voluntarily locked down in a Chicago condo. I live alone. I have to push forward. I have to get things done. Slowly but surely, it’s becoming a little easier. I can get through this. I’m sure the rest of us can, too.

Right after I check this headline.


You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell

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