Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

A Better Man

“Girly, truth is stranger than fiction,” I said very causally as I lay on my daughter’s bed. “Just look at the crap that happened with your father and myself! They could have made a soap opera about it!” Then I burst out laughing. “Mummy it wasn’t that funny when it happened.” Of course she was right but I continued laughing nevertheless. “But darling that’s the only way we humans learn anything. Through pain and drama! You might as well laugh about it…”

I have so many friends who are looking for love or trying to hold on to love. I am not jaded about love or even relationships. I have a more balanced view now, I think. There are just certain things I refuse to do. I will not take happiness at another person’s expense. It’s a combination of many things. I know what it feels like to look at someone who feels betrayed and conversely to have your trust in someone squashed to hell and back. Also it a basic law of the universe; what you give out you get back. Karma and I are on good terms for now and I have no intention of pissing her off. Does this mean I am a saint or a reformed Scorpio? Hell no! Sometimes I wish the ex and his side kick would rot in hell. Still, it’s not my place to make their lives that living hell. Although I do admit that I tried for a while…haha!

Yes, I can laugh about it now. Only because I know that it’s the easiest thing in the world to hate someone. It’s easy to allow other people in your head and have it spoil your week. Anyway, I have no reason or right to judge anyone.  At the end of the day she is someone’s mother, friend, sister and he was a man I once loved. I cannot know what any other person has gone through to make the choices they have made. Strangely enough I am grateful for the betrayal because it showed me what love should and should not be. I can only say those things in retrospect but better late than never I reckon.

Talking about epiphanies I had one while in JHB early one morning. Most of the time we want love to be packaged a certain way. Love has to look like this, sound like this, act like that and preferably be a musician named Ben Harper (I just had to squeeze that in somewhere!)….and all the while we miss out on the love that is continually being shown. That is a sad reality because we put ourselves at great emotional risk. I am not expecting Love any time soon. If it comes my way – wonderful! For now I am content with the love I am being shown by family, friends and my awesome cats.

I am very careful about how I treat people too. I go to great lengths to make sure I am perfectly understood and that I really listen in turn. Of course I have my off moments but they are far and few in between. Let me reassure you that no man is involved in my change in attitude. I am hit with all kinds of epiphanies and I pay attention to them. The logic is simple really; I have no desire to revisit past mistakes. And if I have a off day I can always count on my daughter to sing some dirty South Park song that will leave both of us in stitches! And that is enough for now, good night, good bye…

posted by auriol in human nature and have Comments Off

Muddy Waters

Many things annoy me and I have been told I can be a difficult customer. I like to believe that I have become a tad more tolerant over the years… but if I have to hear “You will learn something meaningful from this experience” one more time I will hurl something sharp and big at someone.

You always tend to hear this from people who claim to know better. You know those who have no personal experience or depth to draw from. Yes, those sanctimonious pricks who say things like, “ It does not serve me to do….” Or “I have so much more to give…” Sometimes I want to say “Bitch please! You and all your boring soap opera theatrics are headed straight for Nervous Breakdown City!”

Look, I know I am not perfect and will make mistakes like everyone else. When that happens I don’t want to be preached at, given solutions to my problems or be made to hold someone’s hand. This is what I do need; to know that I am surrounded by people who have the ability to listen. People I can trust, admire and whose loyalty I will never question. I use to think that every person on the planet would want a bit of that – but was proven wrong. Some just want money, status and a thin body to lay against. I have slowly leant to honestly not give a fook and tune them out of my life.

I can hear what you’re thinking, “Shoo, Auriol, jaded much?” And I would respond “Yes, yes and yes to infinity!” Even though I don’t believe in many things any more I will not write sad songs about confused people. I have enough of that in my own life. Anyway, Music won’t allow me to do that. I sat down to write the other day and was surprised at what presented itself to me. I ended up writing a song that was cautiously optimistic. Me? Cautiously optimistic? That was a shocker!

Maybe life isn’t that bad after all, I thought as I listened to the new song. I don’t want to be preached at. I need someone who will listen. I don’t want speeches about obligation and what is right – instead show me, with your actions, what your right looks and feels like. If pressed to choose between Love and Career, I would choose Career hands down. It was always the safest bet. Now all I want is balance.The only reason why I have a career in music is because I have mastered Balance. I didn’t just sit around and make vision boards and read metaphysical books about the inner workings of my mind and soul! I worked at it as best I can whenever I can.

So Universe, if you are listening I have a few orders I would like to place. I promise I will always try to balance them out and not get side tracked. I want a life filled with more Music, more time with my daughter, Love, enough money to take care of our needs and definitely another child. If you want to throw in a new man and some overseas trips  - that would be cool. Not a necessity though..but cool

posted by auriol in career,family,human nature and have Comments Off

OK Computer

“It’s not my fault Mummy! They asked us to put everything away and that’s how the camera broke.” Trying to teach a kid the concept of responsibility was never going to be easy. As I was talking to her it became very clear that not only kids struggle with this idea but adults more so.

Whenever the shit hits the fan in my life I never look outside myself. My best friends get very upset with me. “You are beating yourself up for things that are not your doing. It takes two to tango.” A part of me understands that perfectly but my inner philosopher always wonders how other people’s actions reflect on my own humanity, flaws and all the bits that need fixing.

No matter what drama you get drawn into, we all reach that point when it (and all the people involved in the saga) no longer matter. When even emotions of anger, resentment or sadness cease to enter your mind or have any noticeable effect. The new age gurus call it Detachment. In short it’s when you stop giving a fook and feeding the drama any energy. That has always been the tipping point for me…

I never concentrate on the people involved in the saga. Rather I look at what issues they are forcing me to face. A family member, an addict, recently said, “I don’t know why they don’t trust me? I am trying really hard to change.” I laughed at him and said, “Do you honestly expect people to trust that you have changed or have taken responsibility for your life after two months? If you want to change you have to act in such a way that they no longer remember the mistakes you made.” He didn’t get that…and then wonders why I never invite him anywhere..

Taking responsibility in my career has always been challenging. In my band everyone is so talented and headstrong. Also, they tend to be dismissive of me because I am the only girl.  Then the universe stepped in and forced me to look at that situation and fix it. I have stopped band practice many times and said, “This is not how the song should sound. I need a more menacing, devilish feel. Less gospel chords please.” Trust me, saying that to a band full of very religious men was …an interesting experience. But they understood and made adjustments. I no longer need to have that conversation. I took responsibility and they respect me for it. I guess it also helps that I pay them well and on time.

We teach others through our actions. My daughter knows that she can achieve anything if she sets her mind to it. I have shown her that it’s possible. She also knows that I will kick her little ass if she acts spoilt and irresponsible. This life is just too short. We cannot pretend that our actions do not affect others. And if I have to chase her around the house with a belt or sing menacing songs in the middle of the night next to her bed – I will. In fact I already have:)

posted by auriol in human nature and have Comments Off

Like A King

You’re trying to kill me!” I screamed. “No, Mummy, what if there is a flood or a Tsunami? You need to learn  to swim! Now let go!” At first we both laughed so much. She was teaching and I was resisting. Eventually things snapped into place and when it did …a remembrance, an epiphany, washed over me.

I was transported back to our first home inWoodstock. There was something about that looming flat mountain, the swirling clouds rushing towards us and birds…the bladdy birds. The two of us would sit and watch in fascination as they navigated their way through the turbulent skies. We would do that for hours at a time. Just the two of us and those bladdy birds. While in the pool I was reminded of them and a thought struck me.  All of nature exists in a state of perfect grace. There is no struggle to be, no fighting again. It is perfect, without fault and everything is as it should be.

After sharing a perfect day with my daughter I looked into my own life and the chaos I created. There are days when I have no grace, I realized. When I allow anger and ego to rule. That’s when all the colorful swear words escape and phrases  such as revenge, payback and “kill that bitch” creep into my mind. It’s not always to escape my Scorpio energy…

I know that life will throw things at me, and that I won’t always be  graceful about it. There will be days when anger and grief gets the better of me, when I cannot get out of bed and have no faith in myself or those around me.  I also know, and this is especially important, that those days will pass. It has taken a long time for me to accept that I, just like everyone around me, am only human. People cannot give what they do not have. All I can do remain grounded and love as best and hard as I can….and write a song about all the times I failed!

My daughter, I realized, is a reminder of that grace. She isn’t perfect, trust me. She is volatile, opinionated and proud…but her heart is as big and open as the perfect blue sky. My day ended with the two of us lying on a couch, watching tv and talking crap. She shared all the Days-Of-Our-Lives drama at her school while I just laughed and offered my 34 cents, when asked. I then shared some insights in my life – about people and music. “Just stop talking about Ben Harper Mummy!” I wanted to point out that I only did that to annoy her – but opted not too. Teasing her is just way too much fun!

“Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”

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If I Had a Boat

No one wants to be angry or angry for too long but I have to be honest. I love that initial flush of anger. You know the stage where you swear badly, inappropriately and at inanimate objects!  I have broken phones  and torched a few items in that phase. It left me feeling justified and for a second – powerful. I could almost hear my shaman Jen (yes, I have one, deal with it) saying, “Auriol, when you are  angry you are giving all your power away.” Again, I didn’t care about any of that as the flames roared…

As I listened to James Vincent McMorrow an unexpected thing happened. The anger was replaced by even scarier emotions: disappointment, pain and sadness. As I looked back into my past I saw how my own actions and thinking contributed to the mess I was in. Pointing fingers only helps for a little while.  And as James whispered into my ears…I cried. In fact the proper term would be howled. I never thought I would hear that sound emerge from so deep within me. Finally I got to say and feel what I needed too – if only to myself. I am so glad my daughter was asleep when that happened.

I know of so many people who let anger rule their lives. I grew up with an angry parent. In the end they hurt themselves more than anyone they happen to come into contact with. So even though I initially turned up my nose when Jen suggested all these exercise to deal with my anger, I am glad I didn’t ignore her. I just had to spend a good few hours crying and writing music after the anger left me to regain my balance.

Does that mean that my toaster isn’t in danger of being terribly sworn at in the near future? Probably not…

posted by auriol in human nature and have Comments Off

A Rush Of Blood To The Head

“Hell is other people” I have heard this so often. I was about to say the same thing when I realized that “Hell is my perception of other people.” Honestly, I wish I weren’t so full of shit or weighed down by my expectations of others.  Sometimes I expect too much or too little. I am big enough to accept responsibility for that. After all no one else can be held accountable for the way I view others. When I loose faith in my ability to understand people only two things get me through – my love for my daughter and my love of music.

I don’t waltz over the keyboard immediately and start writing music. I lie on the bed with all my cats (they always know when it’s a code blue situation) and listen to Ben Harper for a while. Then I question myself about those expectations and what it reveals about my state of mind. I have been accused of over thinking, but if I do not take the time to understand myself who will? In the Wisdom of the Tao it says, “”One who understands others has knowledge. One who understands himself has wisdom. Mastering others requires force.  Mastering the self needs strength.” I am tired of feeling weak and out of control.

A recent visit to a homeopath was more than surprising. After 30 minutes she looked at me and said, “You do not share easily and keep everything locked inside you. This is why you are having problems breathing.” And I thought I just needed to exercise! When I troubles with people I do not share them – least of all with those involved. I talk my way around it, under it or try to resolve it through music.

If I weren’t a musician I would be a diplomat. I could spend all my time hiding behind other people’s troubles. But music doesn’t provide me with that as option. Ben Harper said it best,  ”You can’t fool music because it exposes you to the depth of who you are, who you really want to be….Whether I am honest as a man is up for debate within myself…but as a musician I know nothing but honesty.”

Sometimes things have to be said, confrontations had so that all that the energy can be released. But, first I have to deal with my ego, its conditioning, prejudices, expectations and once I am resolved – only then can I face with person I am having issues with. And if I am lucky a song comes…if not at least I have peace of mind for a while…

posted by auriol in life in general and have Comments Off

Annie Wants a Baby

Even though we don’t mean too, claim we know better, evangelise the advances of technology and how it has propelled humanity into the galaxies and beyond, at the end of the day we are terribly, boringly human. Some of us never get past our conditioning.  We get up, live our day and at time don’t understand why we feel the way we do.

Yesterday was my sister’s birthday and she was miserable. “Why do I feel this way?” she asked.  A few years ago I realised that I unconsciously took on some of my father’s energy. The old man has a habit of hiding out from the world on his birthday. Doesn’t pick up calls, talk to anyone and generally is not a happy chappy.  As we grew older my sister and I started to mimic his behaviour.

When I made this connection, I decided to break the habit consciously. “The best birthday I had, “I explained “was when I was alone in my house. The sun was shining and I put on some good music and danced like a lunatic.” After all, if I am responsible for my own happiness, who will be?

Over the years I have questioned why I behave the way I do, where it stems from and tried to identify the triggers that set off certain behaviours. My friends say I over think and over analyse. I spent years not understanding why I feel the way I do. Some might call it mild depression. I prefer to think of it as a period of adjustment during which I gained insight into myself.  I made many life altering decisions then too – like being a musician.

Occasionally I worry about my sister. She can be rather fragile – even though she doesn’t appear to be so. I say occasionally because my sister can be fiercely protective and scary when she has too. She swore at a nurse and a judge in court once! All for perfectly good reasons, I assure you….She is stronger than she thinks. I just wish she could see that. I wish we could all see that when it matters.

posted by auriol in family,Insanity and have Comments Off

Mean Mistreater

Sometimes I am convinced that most of us are ill prepared for what life throws at us. Scrap that! I am always ill prepared. Music is easy compared to everyday living. You practice your notes, rehearse in real time, in your sleep and you can pull of a decent performance. Life, on the other hand is more…complex.

The only way to get through it is by having something to look forward too. I still want to celebrate a birthday in the desert listening to Radiohead, Muse, Grand Funk Railroad while being surrounded by friends all huddled around a big fire. I want to lie on my back, gaze up at the open sky, hear music being played around me and forget everything for a while. Ah, it is a sweet dream…

I do wonder if I would have been better prepared for this life if my mother taught me how to be a proper lady. If I knew how to cook, clean like a pro, walk comfortably in heels and to dress better. Instead all I can sing a song reasonably well and write a good song if I am inspired. My world does feel rather small and at times I wonder if it is enough…

There are days when I am deliriously happy and manage to forget all my shortcomings. I put on some good music, cook and do a little impromptu dance with a wooden spoon in my hand. Or I sit in the sun and read a book while my cat naps on my lap. Then there’s my daughter who’s just an all round comedian-wannabe rapper-writer-painter. Mostly she lives to mock me and my taste in music.

Maybe I just need to write less depressing songs about death and revolutions and simply be more observant.  While on that note, I should also stop comparing my cooking to the dishes I see on MasterChef. After all I am not trying to win a competition! I just don’t want to poison anyone….

posted by auriol in human nature and have No Comments

Miss Otis Regrets

Some people are headed for a nervous breakdown. I can see it so clearly when scanning through rather questionable and oh so very flaky status updates on Facebook. Yes, yes…I know that everyone has their own process and ways of dealing with their lives and I should have more empathy… but sometimes, just sometimes I want to slap them and say, “Get real man! You can’t new age your way through everything!

Emotions are meant to be felt, painfully endured, and worked through so you can heal… Of course, I would only ever say that to people I know intimately…but forgive me for thinking badly of total strangers. I am not Buddha chilling under a tree. Enlightenment is far, far, far away I fear…

After just watching Planet of the Apes, I was struck by the following thought, “Life will always conspire to show you who you really are; your darkest fears and deepest desires”. This only means one thing my mind dear friend, the shit will hit the fan and when it does how you respond will determine if you are able expunge that funky stench from your skin and bones. Yes, yes…personal experience blah, blah, blah…

So instead of getting annoyed and making some snarky comment, I hide their status updates. The truth is I was once that oblivious. I once clung to a lot of – isms to get by. Simply reading a few books and jotting down carefully selected new age sentence can only get you so far. In order to really learn you have to feel it in every inch of your bones and that takes time.

It takes time for any truth to lodge itself within you. Very often it comes with lots of pain, drama and sometimes a little nervous breakdown or three. And if you’re a musician nervous breakdowns are great! They can fire your creativity for months on end!  At least this is what I tell myself…

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When I was in university I was asked a strange question. “Auriol, do you think an ant knows its purpose?” I looked at her  and after a dramatic pause said, “Let’s go smoke and eat. We’ll talk about this later”. Later, of course, never came but I always wondered what sparked that question.

Now that I am older and have faced those looting ants, I have come to the following conclusions. All animals have an instinctive knowing; they know and deeply understand their purpose. They know what it is they have to do to survive.  We are the ones who struggle, question and live our lives (at times) without grace or understanding…

Just the other day I was out walking in my garden when a thought occurred to me. Just like animals we too have our natural rhythms and seasons.  The problem I have is that I never know just where I am on that wheel. That’s when dreams come in handy. When I am out of sorts I am plagued with dreams about missing trains or I find myself at school and later in some dodgy part of town.

When I am particularly troubled I go for a walk in my garden to get clarity. On one of my meanderings the image of a river came to mind and a message along with it. We all get ourselves into troubling situations and instead of accepting where we are – we fight, we deny or we run away. I was being shown that if I just relaxed I would get to where I needed to be. Instead of trusting that there was something bigger than myself at play, I got out of the boat, plunged into the waters and loudly shouted “I need”, “I want”, “Why I must I?”  and “Dammit all to hell!”

Who knows why we go through the things we do. Some would say we are tested from time to time. After coming out the other side I know this for sure. Trying to control never helps. Having a level head, family and friends do. Instead of shouting and cursing the heavens, I write music and through it am reminded of my purpose and grace. That way I can stay in the boat and enjoy the ride…

posted by auriol in the other side,Uncategorized and have No Comments