This Sunday was Harrison’s 20th birthday. Despite his absence, which, of course, prompted a range of emotions, I found comfort in the conviction that Harry’s spirit is alive with the Lord and wrapped in the embrace of his father, Kurt, in heaven. And I found assurance in the transcendence of his legacy, for it allows us to honor and model the uplifting way in which he lived his life.
When I reflect on his legacy within the context of our relationship, I realize that Harrison fully understood “the big picture” of life. Rarely did he seek to rationalize it with words, rather, his wisdom mostly shone through the consistency of his behavior. There are lessons to be learned from Harry, three of which I believe to be particularly important as they uplift our humanity: Lead with the heart, love intentionally and lend your talent(s) to others.
“Leaders who lead with their heart”, Harrison once wrote, “are true believers in what they do, and do it full throttle.” What does it mean to lead with the heart, though? I never had a chance to ask him, so I’ve sought to interpret the meaning through mine and other’s interactions with him. In doing so, I’ve surmised that to lead with the heart is to submit ourselves completely to a higher cause or purpose — well beyond the narrow realm of self-gain — and exalt our belief(s) through our actions. Essentially, it means to seek inspiration over motivation. That, in turn, “will not only bring (us) success, but also joy and happiness.” Harrison indeed led from the heart, and that helps explain why he loved others so truthfully, too.
Almost everyone who knew Harrison recalls how genuinely kind-hearted he was. In fact, that goofy (I say that with fondness) ol’ smile of his is what first comes to mind when I think of him. Sure, it was partly a manifestation of the gratitude he harbored within, but it was also a choice. A choice to love others – intentionally. And when I say he loved intentionally, I don’t mean to imply that there were either “good” or “bad” intentions – I mean that his decision to love others was guided by purpose. If I were to guess, I’d say his firmly rooted faith in God had something to do with it. He also just enjoyed making people feel good, not just by loving intentionally, but by lending his talent to others.
The video of Harrison singing “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain went viral after news spread of his passing. It was shown on TV stations around the country, and when the original version of the song was played at his vigil, attendees – numbering over 3,000 – all put their horns up in a powerful display of solidarity. Harrison, by sharing his musical talent with us, left an indelible mark on the world. Now whenever I hear that song the words take on a new meaning; it feels like Harry is singing them to me instead. There are many other videos that have circulated of Harrison singing and playing the guitar or piano, and they are cherished both as a living memorial and as a gift that Harrison continues to give us.
A common theme is weaved through the lessons of Harrison’s legacy: living with purpose. Many of us currently live to satisfy our needs — a career, a sense of achievement, etc. — but not to serve something (or someone) greater. As a result, we are motivated, but not inspired. Harry, though, lived to fulfill a purpose; he wasn’t just motivated – he was inspired. And we, in turn, are inspired by him. In remembering and celebrating the life of Harry, let us as Longhorns strive to lead with the heart, love intentionally and lend our talent(s) to others.
Happy 20th, Harrison.
Becker is a nutrition senior.