Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

Archive for the 'insight' Category

Let It Be

Often while at the beach uncalled for thoughts slip into my mind. These thoughts comfort me when every door seems not only sealed but invisible. When every heart I hope to reach a stony, cold fortress and every face lifeless and mute. “I am a musician and, dammit-all, I believe in all things impossible!” When that siren calls I turn up the music in my headphones and walk. Sometimes I don’t know what it is I hope to find as I walk.

I refuse to believe the images paraded in the media or on social platforms. Silly boys disguised as men offering sage advice so others can get laid with minimal effort. My friend once asked me why I follow these chaps on Twitter (when clearly they are idiots). My answer is simple. I like knowing how other people’s minds operate – especially when I am at odds with how they view the world. This is how I practice tolerance…

I don’t think anyone can escape knowing that dearest Nelson Mandela died. I am not about to discount his contribution to a seemingly united South Africa. That would be folly and arrogance of the highest degree! But can I say what everyone’s thinking?  I am so, so, so very bored with it! Bored with the reminders. Bored with the fake sincerity offered by celebrities and politicians. Bored with the pictures of grief or gratitude unfolding. Dammit, we know what should be done! The voters know it and the politicians know it.  Rumi once said “Unfold your own myth” and this is something I am trying to do in my own life. Shouldn’t we all? Every time I question my daughter’s choices (or bug her as she would claim) all I am hoping she will do is walk her own path, find her way and damn the rest to hell! Even if that excludes me.

When I walk on the beach or follow the rants of people on various social networks, I detach and observe.  The question that often pops into my mind is this – how free are you really? My folks, hell they are controlling and they mean that in the way only parents do. They want what they think is best for me. When I declared I want to be a musician all my Mother faithfully said was, “Okay Auriol” while my Father mumbled that I need to get a real job. When I came home with a boyfriend of a very different racial background, not a word was uttered. I think my parents liked the idea that I am open and progressive. When I declared my love for all things Ben Harper my Mother ushered me into a corner and confessed conspiratorially, “I had a boyfriend who was Muslim once and looked a lot like that Ben of yours…”

The point I am making is this. It took me a long time to uncover how conditioned I am. Even though it is still a work in progress, I am able to appreciate the chains that culture and religion offers but decline their comfort nevertheless. It took even longer to free myself of the notions of how a lady should behave or how best a musician should prostitute themselves in order to survive. In short I walk alone and live on my terms. I wish others would forge their own destiny and all that jazz…but who knows how many lifetimes it took for me to get to this point hmm?

The song that resonates deeply with me is Nina Simone’s Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood. For the longest time I tried my best to convey my deep desires to those I cared for. I would call, email or even try to find the music for it. Yet even this idea has been abandoned. I refuse to be trapped by my ego – always on the defensive. However, the path to being truly free is not a popularity show and some have voted me off their island!  Trust me, I too have lost myself to the ramblings of my mind, my heart or emotions. Many times in fact! But my guardians ( a fancy name for really cool friends and family) are never too far. So I get to remain sane – most of the time…

There is little I have control over but never again will I be a coward or allow other people’s choices or agendas to render me helpless. My path is a lonely one…but at least when I walk along the beach, write music, love  those I chose to – I do so freely. Can you say the same? And if not, what will you about it?

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Please Don’t Stop The Music

“Wait until you meet someone new. When you do you will be writing crack happy songs!” a friend remarked. For a while I too believed that only someone else could inspire music. Yet, life always surprises and as cliché as it sounds I discovered that I am the source of my own happiness; no one can arouse anything that I don’t already feel.

Regarding matters of the heart I am a cynic but something surprising happens when I compose music. The cynic disappears (much to my alarm) and something wondrous steps in. Before you ask I have not fallen in love or won the lotto. A change, the change that I have been begging for, has come. And strange as it sounds I am happy. Life is by no means perfect but I am content. I even selected a few songs written for the ex; songs saturated with love. And they don’t leave me feeling sad or depressed. In fact I am deeply appreciative of the love that was shown to me…

“I can’t take another sad song from you” said my Mark. “But I love the misery!’ I exclaimed. I suppose he always knew the day would come when I would no longer feel such deep longing. Yes, I needed to purge, expunge and leave behind, all the things that caused me pain. I managed to do that with the Call It Love album.

I might never stop writing my crime songs (I really do enjoy killing people off) but those are not the songs I will select for the third album. The themes will be big – poverty, revolution, war and a range of other calamities and amidst those changes two people who cannot help but love each other. Call it Love was my Pandora’s Box. All my demons have been slayed. Now all that’s left is hope….

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Elton John was right – sorry seems to be the hardest words. Now I am not a fan of his music but the man has a point. If we were actors or politicians life would be easier. We could say something completely rancid and get away with it – after making the necessary public apologies and shaking hands with the previously offended.

The philosopher Solon said “Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath.” In other words don’t believe a damn thing people say! The biggest mistakes I ever made were when I ignored Solon’s advice. Now I pay attention to what people do or fail to do. Yes, I like to watch!

I am tired of people trying to be “good”. Hell, I have made good, bad and awful decisions. I have prejudices that I won’t apologize for. If I am to release myself of those prejudices I will do so on my own terms and when I am ready. There will be no handshaking going on anytime soon to appease others.

Call it Karma or the workings of the Universe, but we all get hurt and hurt others in turn.  Either way I don’t regret anything – especially not the “bad” decisions. They were my greatest teachers after all. The insights I gained I guard closely. They are “Tattooed across my heart….every letter bold and dark.”  Yes, Ben Harper sang that…in case you didn’t know

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Little Girl Blue

My daughter painted herself blue yesterday. When I asked her if she was inspired by the movie Avatar she replied, “Yes, but I fell asleep. It was a boring, long movie.” In other words it had nothing to do Avatar. She painted herself because she was bored. Man, I miss those days – when I did things for no good or bad reason but just for the experience!

I am only open to new experiences when it involves music, I realized. There is nothing better than working with a passionate musician and riding that energy…but that is where it stops! I hope, in time, to remedy that situation.  My daughter is a really cool kid and she reminds me (constantly) that I should have more fun. This is something I tend to forget. We all know there is nothing worse than someone who takes themselves too seriously.

Luckily the Universe/God/ (call her what you will) has other plans. She has no intention of allowing me to live in that little box. So she sends me people to ease me into new experiences. Through these friendships I have learnt to trust myself enough so I can be more spontaneous…to use the energy I reserve for my music and spread it out evenly in other parts of my life. I am convinced that I am here to master is the art of maintaining Balance. But dammit-all, it’s hard!

Yes, I need to have more fun but will do it in my own way. Hang out with friends, dance more and go back to Capoeira classes. I do not need to hang out in clubs or try to be seen. Dammit-all, I have a fantastic sister, a bar in my house and a cocktail book we need to work through!

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The Will to Live

My mother taught me many things – some good, bad and some down right ugly. The one thing I will always remember is how she starts her day. When we moved to JHB I discovered just how important it was that I do the same. The only thing I have added to my morning routine is a good dose of Ben Harper.

I listen to one the song I Want To Be Ready. I love the opening lines: “How I am strong is to know what makes me weak//How I am found is to know just whom I seek”. For me this is a call to remember what matters  most because trust me, sometimes I do loose the plot.

The one thing I have experienced firsthand is that when I forget the Universe bitch slaps with me a horrendous reminder. She knows that I am not smart enough to figure it out myself.  So she prods me in the wrong direction so I can  get to the answers on my own. Once I broke my ankle and the inability to move at my own speed made me question just where I was going. Then there was a time when I could not hear a single musical note for months….

A few days I managed to get hold of a documentary about the migrant workers of China. After watching it I know I will look at the label “made in China” with greater introspection. Sometimes I forget what my parents had to go through so that I am where I am. I will talk to my daughter about this movie and about the migrant workers in our own country. Maybe she will clean her room more readily and stop giving me silly reminders that her birthday is around the corner…

Yes, my mother taught me how to start my day: with a clear head and a greater deal of gratitude so that I can be ready for whatever comes my way

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Everyday Hurts a Little More

I often tell my daughter that this world is filled with strange and mysterious things. Once I told her that there are people who think the Little Gray Men are the mercenaries of the galaxy (they harvest genetic material for other alien races). I got a very skewered are-you-out-of-your-mind- kinda look! I don’t expect her to believe it but I want her to know that there are strange and seemingly mysterious things out there;things that fall outside the limits of our understanding.

While I love my esoteric and extraterrestrial, I know that we all will all face greater puzzling dilemmas right here on planet earth. They come in the shape of people who challenge the way we live – just by being who they are. See, this is the bit I am trying to not only understand myself but teach my daughter. Like I said it’s easy being morally righteous. The government advocates it. Religion is based on it…in fact the very structures that keep things ticking on and over depends on it. Yet the reality of who we are as people is anything but.

Epictetus, a Greek Stoic philosopher, once said that “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take on them.” It’s all about the stories and details we add. The stories we tell ourselves help put the people and events into context. The problem is that after a while you start believing those stories. Often the only way you can put a stop to them is by running into other people who make you stop and ask yourself, “What the hell is going on here?” or “Who have I been for the last few years of my life?”

And those questions are the ones that keep me awake at night. Most people are neophobic – they just don’t like new things. Some don’t even want to make new friends. So imagine asking someone to expand their moral horizons? To make place for the seemingly “incomprehensible” events or situations that life will present them with….

I have always tried to find meaning for those mind shattering personal events in my life. So when I loose my shit and scream and shout bloodly murder at 9 on a Saturday morning, the only person I have to answer to is myself. And all it takes is a little bit of nerve – to be honest enough and move a step beyond the lies and stories I have told myself for so long….

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Take it Slow…

On Facebook you can be whoevever you want to be. You can photoshop the hell out of any picture and come out looking like a glam god. You can fabricate, lie and reinvent yourself. You can accumulate friends and be as nice or bitchy as you choose. My mother goes to church to be social but today we simply switch on our pc or our phone.

Thanks to my mister I have to hear about Seth Godin and his gang left, right and centre, but the one thing that I took away from Seth this morning is this –being sincere about what you do counts a great deal more in a market where everything can be obtained easily and without fuss.

These days everyone wants to “build their brand”.  With a bit of money you can project any image of yourself  - even one that is far removed from who you are.  Some want to come across as people who have their shit together and know where they are heading. I am none of these.

Here are the facts: I am a deeply flawed human being who swear too much, am very cynical and loose my way easily. I hate cooking (so I plan my meals), hate ironing (so do it while watching movies so I don’t kill anyone), and sometimes forget to have a bath because I am so busy writing music.

Look, I have been blogging for ages. Before that I was writing. In fact I have tons of books at home filled with complaints about the state of my life, jokes about my daughter and plans for my future. I don’t blog about something for self promotion (ha-ha check the title out) or to be trendy. I blog because I am affected by things or people at a particular point in time. The same is true for music also.

That’s what I like about the people I interact with on the net. It’s about the sincerity and humanness that comes through regardless of the medium. That’s why I go to certain sites over and over again.  It’s not that the information is new but I dig the way it’s being presented.

And I hope that’s what people will get about me. I am not perfect. I call my sister “nigga” on Facebook and wage wars with my mister online. I leave my daughter silly notes in the morning because she is a super grump when she wakes up and demand that my mother and family visit me at least once a week.

This is who I am…the rest is just bullshit

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By the light of the Moon

I have always loved vampires. Make them bloody, sexy and scary as hell and I will be the first in line to watch! However, after watching New Moon with my daughter and seeing how she responded to those blood suckers I am having some serious second and third thoughts…

I have always tried to provide her with both sides to any story – be it religion, politics or sex. My sincere hope was that she would have a balanced view. You know what they say about unintended consequences.  Despite all my best efforts I think I have inadvertently raised an anarchist.  She can be militant and will argue with me about anything. Her favourite line is, “Do you have proof” and “Let’s go to the internet to see if you are right!” I really dig that about her but when it comes to love, I realised, she is a lost case. I saw it when her eyes glazed over as Mister Cullen stepped into view. “What did I miss here?” I asked myself…

Then it hit me! How many times has she not heard me saying that love is just a load of crap? How many times have I not written songs about love …its lack and dishonesty? About my lack and dishonesty? All the movies I watch are sad or bitter and the music is along the same vein. I love my Blues music where someone gets killed in the end! It’s the curse of being a Scorpio – hang on that is such a bullshit thing to say! It’s just the way I have chosen to be.

Instead of being overwhelmed by my emotions, I do the safe, cowardly thing – I show very little and try to feel even less. Every heightened emotion has always found its way to my music. And the really great things about love I have kept to myself. No wonder she responded the way she did to old Edward.

When the chicky was busy loosing her mind because her Vamp man left her my daughter could not understand her severe emotional response. “Why is she acting that way?” she asked. I am glad she could not understand what love or lack of love can do to your sanity.

Of course she loved the movie. It was the first dramatic movie with a more adult theme  she has watched. And personally I am glad I was there to watch it with her. Anyway, who am I to rip her off about New Moon? One of my favourite movies happens to be Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – a classic tale of forbidden love, mad sex and bloody revenge. Not all that different from her vegetarian chewing Vamps…

I know that tomorrow night we will have to have a very long talk about the movie – its themes and symbolism. I will end off our session by saying that real life is not like that…she will respond by saying “I know Mummy” and then we will rip each other off, call each other lesbains and say good night! LOL!

That is the beauty of having kids. They have this uncanny way of reflecting all your shortcoming and faulty reasoning. Now fixing that is another business altogether…

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Release me

Life is messy. People are messy and we all lie to ourselves at some point. And we do it because it gets us through the day. It justifies our actions and dammit all – it feels good. Still all good things must end and when they do most of us crash and burn. We wonder if we can ever really trust anything or anyone ever again…

The one thing I learnt is that you can only run for so long. You can’t always look at the mistakes of others and say, “I am not that stupid! I won’t do that.” When other forces are at work and there are things you need to learn about yourself – you will get caught out eventually. That’s when you discover for just how long you have been lying to yourself and why. Now finding a workable solution too all those issues is another question altogether. With me music helps.

I remember stepping on stage once feeling so deeply, deeply hurt. I knew that there was no way I could sing anything  light or upbeat. I simply felt too defeated and ruined. The band sensing something was wrong played the jazz standard called God Bless the Child.  And when I was ready I took a deep breath, put every bit of sadness, each little disappointment, all my regrets and despair on to that stage with me and sang. For the first time I had a place to put all those fearful emotions….

I discovered that I can’t really write music when I am very happy or very sad. I write best when I am somewhere in the middle. Some people think I write too many dark and depressing songs. What they don’t know is that those songs even me out. Anyway, I just wrote a new song called Lie To Me  and through it I ask to be released from all my crap and messy emotions….At the end of the day that is all you can hope for; that you learnt something valuable and can move on.

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You’ve been voted off the island

“You are all just characters in my head. None of you are really here!”  This is one of the many quirky things my husband says – while sober! Sure he can be down right weird on most days but he might just  have a point. Sometimes I get the feeling that our lives are just one big reality show and we are all being messed with. Crazy ex boyfriends, terrible in laws, shady people do make for great viewing when it’s someone else’s life and not your own going to hell. Dammit where is that bladdy tribal council when I need it? Some people need to get kicked off my show!  Right now I am still deciding what kind of show my life is. For a while it was a soap opera and I was the shady character getting up to all kinds of mischief!

There are so many things that I will never get to really understand. I have made peace with that. Anyhoo it would be terribly boring knowing everything. I rather like the mystery and intrigue. The fact that I am a musician means that I get to use it all to my advantage. Once while trying to explain a concept to a friend he got very angry and said, “Well, I just don’t understand that. It makes no sense! How can that be?” This was his way of saying that I was talking bullshit.  He expected me to argue with him and start some crazy shit. Honestly, I only do that with my immediate family or close friends  and always in jest.

I decided a long time ago that I was not going to convince anyone of anything.  It really is just a waste of my time. There are things, I have decided, that are worth fighting for but arguing for the sake of arguing and to be proved “right” is just insane! But waking up each day and enjoying what life throws at you – now that appeals to me.

I like the idea that there are aliens out there, all kinds of crazy supernatural stuff, secret organisations plotting and scheming. Every time I catch a glimpse of the seemingly fantastical and intriguing it always leaves me wanting more.  This is what makes life so exciting.

The esoteric folk out there say that we scripted our lives before we incarnated….made agreements with people to play out certain scenarios so that we can learn…that we can opt out and hit reset whenever we need to. In short this life is all just an intricate reality show starring me…scripted by me… directed by me for….my enjoyment!

So when the mister goes off on a crazy rant I always listen (even though it might appear that I am falling asleep) because every now and then he says the most profound things…

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