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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Music Is My Religion

Whenever I am getting to know anyone I always have to know what music they are into. It comes as no surprise then that most of my friendships are deeply rooted in shared musical tastes and memories. I’m automatically drawn to people that have the same music taste as me. It’s likely if your music taste is better than mine that I’m probably going to become a bit of a groupie. For real. For me, music is more than just a set of notes put together. Music is soul, passion, feeling, melody, harmony, and beauty. It is complexity. It is simplicity. It is its own. If you have a great taste in music I’ll probably fall in love with you a little bit.

One of my favourite songs from 2012 is ‘Bad Religion’ by Frank Ocean off his Grammy award winning Channel Orange album. Not only is it sonically perfect but it’s one of the rawest, most sincere, honest and well written songs that I listened to last year. ‘Bad Religion’ is a song about unrequited love.  As Frank Ocean sings:

It’s a bad religion to be in love with someone who could never love you. Only a bad religion could have me feeling the way I do about you.’

When I’m not singing obnoxiously and horribly out of key into my clenched fist to it ’Bad religion’ tugs gently at my heart strings. I feel it. When I listen closely to it, trigger’s all sorts of emotional impulses. Listening to music is a uniquely personal experience. As listeners we relate to musicians in a way we rarely do with other types of artists. Hearing it in a car or while rocking headphones is even more intimate.

While I don’t consider myself to be particularly homophobic, if you had asked me before if I would ‘feel’ a song about a man falling in love with a man I probably would have said no. I would have argued that the song wouldn’t resonate because I’ve never fallen in love with a man. But even though I can’t relate to that aspect I love the song because I can feel Frank Ocean’s heart and soul pouring out in that song. The theme of unrequited love also resonates. We have all been there. The song, as all great art is supposed to do moves, inspires, resonates, and reverberates. Feeling it isn’t a political statement or an expression of my level of personal progression. I like it because I like it. Simple as that.

I hadn’t listened to ‘Bad Religion’ in a long time but my iTunes wasn’t having any of that and it shuffled it right back into my ears. Whilst listening to it I was again I found myself focusing on the use of ‘bad religion’ as a metaphor for unrequited love. As is the case with metaphors the religion being referred to here is obviously not the traditional religion i.e.  Your Christianity, Buddhism, Muslim, Hinduism etc. Furthermore Frank Ocean calls unrequited love a bad religion. In the case of traditional religion, adherence to a specific religion often means other religions are regarded bad religions. Religion subsequently becomes a breeding ground for superiority complexes and snob conversations. This has more to do with differences dogma, principles, rules and regulations. What all religion has in common is that that is not the religion the person abides to is a bad religion. As I pondered this I found myself asking myself what is my ‘religion’?

Well for me, it’s music. Music is my religion. How does this work?  I’m the kind of person who appreciates and loves a broad spectrum of music.My taste in music is eclectic. MGMT’s ‘Electric Feel’ is just as dope as any of the 1000’s of Hip Hop songs that make up most of my music library. Same with Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’ or James Blake ‘The Wilhelm Scream’. I try not to discriminate because I’ll miss out on too much.

 

This doesn’t always translate into respecting other people’s views and means for listening. In situations where other people’s musical tastes are different to my own I tend to judge their tastes. I am not proud of it. I try not to judge but I can’t help it. It’s hard not to. For example I just don’t get people who are into heavy metal rock. You can’t tell me screaming and making a guitar screech incoherently is good music. Just because you have a bunch of tone deaf ignoramus’s listening and buying it doesn’t make it music … Ya Bish! It probably makes it trash. OK. That was harsh. I apologise. See what music made me do? Two people with vastly different tastes in the same thing can get along. Clearly.

So music is my religion. Clearly. It’s uplifting and encouraging. It can also can be as divisive as regular religion to me.

Anyway. May the record state that I never said anybody was wrong or right. Its religion, we will all find out when we’re dead.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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A Break-Up Letter To Fear

To: Fear

cc: Doubt

Dear Fear

If you are reading this it means I finally worked up the courage to send you this letter. Good for me.

There is no easy way to say this but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway. It’s not you it’s me. Wait. No. In fact it’s not me it’s you. This. Us. Whatever it is we have. We can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this anymore.  I am not happy. I am sick of you and it’s time we broke up. I know we have broken up and gotten back together before. Every time I’ve tried to leave doubt keeps pulling me back, but seriously, Fear this is it! (No M.J). I’m tired of the dysfunctionality. I am breaking up with you. For good. It is the right thing for me. The more I think about it the more I realise we that were never meant to be. We just happened.I am over you silencing me all the time. You like hearing the sound of your own voice and never really bother to hear me out. You constantly disapprove and discourage my goals and efforts. You are openly disrespectful towards my dream team. Not anymore. I have had enough.

I met someone. Her name is Courage. She inspires me, encourages me and dares me to take a leap and reach out for everything that I ever wanted. You on the other hand never believed in me. I don’t get you, but then you don’t get me either. You are always giving me reasons why I can’t. Thanks to courage I know I can. Even though I m still running my race she makes me feel like I have already won. She is the cheerleader of my dreams. She even has me thinking about buying a piece of land. A place I can give my inner nomad a home. I’m tired of running. The coward in me died the night I met her.

So suck on that, Fear. You and I are done. And no I am not interested in ‘talking it over’. My happiness and my dreams can’t be friends with you. I don’t need you in my life. I choose awesomeness. I choose courage. I choose to fly.

I am not going to miss you. I don’t want anything to do with you. This is goodbye once and for all. Or at least that’s what I really, really want. From this day forward you are just somebody that I used to know.

Deuces!

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Who Needs Batman When You Have Got Robin Van Persie?

I am a life long Manchester United. Well, technically since 1992. That feels like a life time ago though. Last season when we lost the league to Manchester City with Aguero’s goal with the last kick in the last minute, and the last second of the season I was absolutely gutted and heartbroken. Not so much by the fact that we had been beaten to the title on goal difference. No. It was the manner in which we lost that title. For all of a minute, it looked like what had seemed improbable at the start of the day had become a reality. We believed we were champions once again. Then in the most dramatic fashion possible we lost. It was cruel. That Aguero goal and the celebration, in which he gleefully ran around swinging mine and millions of other United heart’s over his head has haunted me since. I also remember the spilt screen shot of delirious Man City fans celebrating juxtapositioned against an image of Sir Alex Ferguson and Phil Jones looking dejected.

Thankfully that memory was exorcised from my memory’s museum last night. All thanks to a sensational hat trick from Man United’s talisman this season Robin Van Persie. His second goal on his way to his 33min hat trick was a master class in the art of volleying a football. It was audaciously awesome. You are more likely to see that playing FIFA on Playstation than in real life. Last night Robin Van Persie toasted his first ever league title in his 12 seasons as a professional footballer with a stupendous goal in the Theatre Of Dreams … Poetic justice. Now that is a memory that will be displayed front and centre in my memory’s museum.

Manchester United winning the league again despite what many might suggest has nothing to do with luck. It was a display of the character that is required to be champions consistently over a period of 20 years. It also is classic example of how to comeback from a setback. Legend has it that after that game on the trip back to Manchester SAF gave a rallying cry on the team bus. He told his players to remember the pain of that loss. He vowed that he will never let it happen again. In that moment of defeat he was already looking plotting how to wrestle the title back from the noisy neighbours. Boy did they not only respond but they channeled that pain into an absolutely dominant premier league campaign. In the process turning around a loss on goal difference to winning the league with 4 games to spare and a healthy 16 point margin. That was the first step towards reclaiming the title from the noisy neighbours.

His second and most inspired decision was snapping up the attacking talents of Robin Van Persie. This was in line with Sir Alex’s declaration that he would never lose the title again on goal difference. He said “The one thing I said to them at the start of the season was: ‘Make sure you do not lose on goal difference again’. Last season was the first time we’ve ever lost on goal difference. We’ve always had a superior goal difference to all our opponents. That was the point where I realised that was the challenge: our goal difference must be better than theirs across the road.” That plus the resolve to reclaim the title propelled United to a record 20th title in the English league. This was Sir Alex Ferguson 28th trophy as coach of Manchester United.Dethroned as champions six times in his Old Trafford rule, he has now brought the title straight back on five occasions. No wonder he has a whole stand in Old Trafford named after him as well as a statue erected outside the stadium. Legend.  Also a player who has been with him since his first triumph is 39 year old Ryan Giggs  who now has 13 Premier league titles the same number as Arsenal (Robin Van Persie’s former club)  have won in their entire 127 year history. Giggs was also the architect of two of Van Persie’s goals on the night.

On winning the tittle last night Sir Alex had this to say

“The players’ focus was fantastic this season. “They didn’t get themselves annoyed by what happened last season. A lot of teams – most teams in the country – would have melted. But not this bunch.

“They went on and did what Manchester United expects of them and raised the bar. You could go on and on and on about losing a title, and we’ve had to do that in my time. I think our consistency for the last 20 years has been unbelievable. It’s been a marvellous performance. We’ve got 84 points with four games left – fantastic.”

Now to the man of the moment Robin Van Persie.

"Fergies new Van" ... Robin Van Persie and Sir Alex Furgeson

Rob Van Persie and Sir Alex Ferguson

He has been a professional footballer for 12 seasons (8 of which he was starved of success at Arsenal). His time at Arsenal became untenable last season when he was the standout player of the league, winning the Player of the season award and the Golden Boot award for the top goal scorer in the league. That was only enough to single handedly lift Arsenal into 3rd place. Unfortunately that was not in line with his ambitions. Subsequently he made bold decisions to take his match winning talents to Manchester.  As in the movie Matrix, when Keanu Reeves’s Neo had the choice between the “red pill” and the “blue pill”, Robin Van Persie chose the former to become “The One”. He reportedly rejected a £300 000/week salary from Manchester City to “Listen to the little boy inside him. “A decision that didn’t go to well in the blue half of Manchester but one that was vindicated when he won his first ever  title  with the red half of Manchester. To Manchester United’s credit they did not hesitate in forking out £24 million for his services. With 34 league games played already this season Van Persie has been the only player to feature in all those games. In the process his goals have earned Manchester United 20 points on the way to their record 20th English title. In the immortal words of the legend that is Charlie Sheen “Winning!”

Robin has been no side kick. Robin Van Persie has been  “The One”. Who needs Batman when you have got Robin Van Persie?

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Me, Myself and Faith

Why am I writing this? People sometimes ask me if I am religious and when I say “No, but I am a believer and I am big on faith.” They sometimes look confused. This is my attempt at an explanation.

I grew up in the church and my whole life I have been around a lot of church folks. This means I am intimately familiar with places where dogma supersedes reason. Religion displaces faith. Authority cripples freedom. Oppressive rules bend characters into worrisome places. Intellectual shifts in thinking are abandoned in favour of hyper-emotional encounters. Where people get lost in doctrine because they hope to find themselves.

I can spot inauthenticity easily because I have met so many who have adopted it as their modus operandi. I have been that person. It’s not that you intentionally set out to be inauthentic. It’s just that somewhere along your journey you start believing that, inauthenticity is the gateway to paradise. Except it’s not. Dwelling in inauthenticity is the quickest way to ensure you will experience hell on earth.

As I’ve grown older, my relationship with spirituality has become simpler. Conversely my feelings about institutionalised religion have become increasingly complex so much so that in my early twenties I became so disillusioned that for the better part of five years I did not see the inside of any house of worship. Consequently I’m big on Faith and not particularly interested in Religion. Much of this is because I look at the inertia and lack of dynamism that religion embodies and don’t believe that’s what God intended for man to establish. Then I remember my frailty and fallacies. Who am I to say or even speculate what God intends?

I have come to discover that true faith is freedom. It grants you the audacity to be who you are. It gradually disempowers everything within you that’s contrary to who you are destined to be. This faith teaches you that when you err, your mistakes don’t have to be fatal. That every failure is an opportunity for God to build you up, rather than a ceremony for God to break you down.

We all have faith in something – whether it’s God, science, institutions, ideologies, and/or our own conceptions of the world. We all have faith.  The thing about faith though is that it’s not concrete and secure and straightforward. This is because faith is about being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Faith is hard work. Faith, is a practice and a habit like many things one can embody. Faith is also having to place your trust in the knowledge that something much bigger than you plays a role in your destiny. Faith is an admittance that neither you nor any other human being or entity is completely in control of all the things that go on around you.

Faith can be disappointing, at least in the heart of difficulties and uncertainties. If you believe nothing else about faith, believe that it is the hardest thing to hold onto when you need it the most. Paradoxically, as it’s been said, faith isn’t faith until it’s all you’re holding onto. And sometimes, you’ll even think all is lost. You’ll think that you have failed and whatever battle you were fighting has come to an end; you’ll think that you have been defeated. You’ll think that your faith has failed you.

Faith is a personal journey and in it, you are given choices about what you believe. Even when I have lost something I worked hard for, and suffered through, and believed in my heart of hearts that I would get, I have found that what was prepared for me was something much greater than I could have imagined. Consequently I have always felt like a winner when challenges have come to pass. Faith has taught me that everything that happens in our lives is part of a grander design.

But my faith, though personal, has made me realise that no one is meant to suffer alone and face challenges alone. Indeed, no matter what I have faced or what those close to me have faced; in my imperfect understanding and fragile faith, I have found that somehow, someway, God has managed to be exactly and perfectly on time. That is my story of faith thus far. The struggle is to remember this the next time I face another struggle, and to never lose faith.

 

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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What Have You Done For Your Dreams Lately?

I was thinking today about how hard it is sometimes to take a chance in life. All of us have experienced times where we’ve just wanted to take a leap, and reach out for whatever it is we’ve always wanted. Yet, something holds us back. Something keeps us from just going for it. Usually, it starts with, “Realistically…” or “I doubt it’ll happen, but…” or “It’s probably crazy, but…” You get the drift. There are so many times we shut ourselves down, tell ourselves “No”, before the idea has even left our lips. Sometimes we are lazy and we tell ourselves “It’s too hard” Most of the time though we are just cowards. We’re too afraid to take that leap of faith and reach out for our dreams. We give fear the deciding vote at the table of life. What is it about the human condition that creates this self-destructive monster, which eats away at your dreams one excuse at a time?

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to write. It’s something that I have always been passionate about. For the longest time I did not write anything. The reason for this is that I was very good at coming up with reasons not too. I sabotaged myself with pragmatism. Most of my reasons were often of sound logic and made sense, but at the end of the day, these reasons were just a good name I gave to excuses. I was a coward.  When it comes to our dreams most of us are the same. We are too afraid to take that first step to become our better selves. It’s easy to be afraid, and there may be plenty of examples around you to feel so. But just because something hasn’t been done yet doesn’t mean it cannot be done at all. It just hasn’t been done…yet.

The most popular excuse most of us make: “What will people think of me if I decide to pursue this dream that I have?” The tragedy is that people won’t think anything of you if you don’t. Yet they will think the world of you when you succeed and make it. The only failing is not trying. Who cares if you don’t make it? And when it looks like you have failed remember that sometimes a dream broken is dream worth having. There is no expiration date on your dreams. Take a deep breath ….woooosah, pick yourself up, press reset and try again. After all learning it’s not about the fall from grace but the rise from failure. So grab your dreams with both hands and hold on tight, never letting go, even if everyone else around you believes it’s pure folly to do so. If you really want people to believe in you, and support your dreams give them actions and not words. (Unless you are a writer then maybe give them words). What you have done for your dreams already matters more than what you might do some day.

Dream. Believe. Achieve.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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