OLIVIA ARTICLE:

The following article by Olivia was printed today in the Huffington Post.

As the 10th anniversary of George’s death approaches, and Living In The Material World, the Martin Scorsese documentary about his life, about to be aired, I have been looking back at the last 10 years of my own life. Like standing at the window of a moving train, I have watched each year as a fleeting reflection in a foreign landscape. I did not want to be on board but had no choice, nor was I sure if there was even a destination.

In 2001, when it became evident that George was not going to live, a friend said to him, “this will be the most exciting chapter of your life.” The usual dialogue surrounding a terminal illness is so grim that even the best platitudes fall flat; but at that moment, after all the negative medical certainties, those particular words were inspirational. After years of speculation about the moment of death, we knew the spectre of disembodiment was actually imminent.

“To die will be an awfully big adventure,” wrote JM Barrie. In fact, death is such a big adventure it profoundly alters the lives of all those attached to the departing soul. When the time for George came, that momentarily open door to the infinite caught my sleeve then slammed shut, leaving behind the fabric of my being in jagged shreds.

Tragedy is much more of an adventure than joy. I am not saying joy is over-rated. But happiness is fleeting; it exists in the present. Tragedy casts a long and persistent shadow with the power to dim even the most perfect moment. It also has the potential to follow us to the end. We don’t stop to analyze happiness but when grief and strife occur we recount the events leading up to it over and over. It wakes us from our sleep as we try to figure out how and where it all went wrong. Of course, with death, the question is more of a ‘why’? But for me, the question was, “what is it I am meant to do now?” The script was changed, as George said when John Lennon was killed: “That’s not how the script goes. It was like someone tore out that page and stuck a new one in.” My movie changed too.

After George died, I was certain the usual tower of mail on the kitchen chair would dwindle, the house would be tidy and the sofas would seat people rather than guitars. None of that happened. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Maybe it was the momentum of his hectic life, in addition to my need to keep busy, but my own life began to pick up speed. Thankfully George and I didn’t spend much time looking back. I mean, we weren’t making scrapbooks. We were steaming ahead. Thirty years of stuffing letters, tapes and film in drawers turned the house into one enormous discombobulated archive. Having an over-developed sense of duty, and the recent deep awareness of my own mortality, I began to organize the remnants and treasures of the life George lived. It seemed so unfair to leave this task to my son and it was important to me that things be in order. It was also an obvious way of staying close to life as I knew it, not being ready to ‘move on’ — as they say, a term I have come to detest.

Half way through the treasure hunt it became even more obvious how rich a life George led. From the bin bag of reel-to-reel tapes I listened to George working out his first song, “Don’t Bother Me” and Ravi Shankar giving George his first sitar lesson in 1966.

There were traces of him everywhere; chord sequences and tablatures written out, notes and silly drawings but also deeper reminders, one written on a scrap from the Bel-Air Hotel, “When you strip it all away, there is only God.”

And I have been stripping it away, from the past, as well as streamlining the present. Isn’t it what we of a certain age all desire now? To simplify our lives, to get rid of some of the ‘stuff’ we worked so hard to accumulate so we don’t spend the rest of our lives as slaves to our material world? Through work and the process of producing this film I have discovered new skills, broader perspectives, new interests and above all, I cemented old friendships while nurturing new ones. I worked hard at it all and the results pulled me out from under the cool shadow of sadness. I admit I have had a pretty amazing 10 years. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that not in a million years would I have made that trade. I have to thank George for my life with him and oddly enough, for with my life without him.

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30 Responses to “OLIVIA ARTICLE:”

  1. Mantis says:

    Please, let me reblog/translate this for my blog.

  2. Tammy says:

    Go for it, it’s not mine, i’m just sharing it .. get the word out there :-)

  3. Diane says:

    Wow – thanks for this. So eloquently written!

  4. Ishie says:

    Olivia is a very classy lady. She loved and lived with George for many years and respected and admired the man he was. She is honest and open and was extremely committed to the ‘Living In a Material World’ documentary. For that we are grateful … thank you!
    She and Dhani with the wonderful talents of Martin Scorsese will bring George into our homes and our hearts once again and we will relish his humanity, his talents, his humor and his love of life and we will learn from him.
    Perhaps we will look at the gifts of life & love a bit differently after viewing this film. In my mind, George was ‘paving his way on a journey that would bring him to eternal light’. I believe that he reached his goal and is basking in its glory.
    Many blessings to all!

  5. BLJ says:

    As a widow myself, I can certainly relate to Ms Harrison’s writings. Thanks, for posting, Tammy it means a lot to me. I lost the love of my life last November and it is still an adjustment to make after being married 38 years.

  6. Kwai Chang says:

    @BLJ…
    throughout my life….(born april, 1960 taurus)…
    I have been able to get through all hardships via the same method…
    Beatle Music…
    they were there everytime…and never let me down…
    introspection isn’t to be feared…
    (they taught me THAT!!!)
    38 years is a rarity…be honored

  7. lizzie says:

    beautiful words, i read it yesterday and shared on facebook and with my e-mail friends. i am so sorry for your loss, blj.

  8. Leah says:

    Olivia is a downright awesome woman. She’s strong willed in so many uses of the word.

  9. Another_Fan says:

    A lot of people view her as just Mrs. Harrison, George’s wife. But to me Olivia is one awesome woman in her own right! I mean, look at all the things she has achieved the last couple o’ years.. And the way she talks and writes, she’s clearly very intelligent and a nice person. I guess I’m a fan of all three Harrisons..! :)

    @BLJ: Sorry to hear that.. I wish you love and strength

  10. BLJ says:

    @Another_Fan says: Thanks

  11. Michael says:

    Her intelligence and softness of spirit shine through in her writing. She seems to have been the perfect mate for George and he for her…

  12. Tammy says:

    Yes BLJ, i can’t begin to imagine your loss, well .. actually i can, and that’s why i feel so for you. Grief is such a personal and individual journey, i wish you well. Olivia had it pegged when she said she detests the term ‘Move on’, that’s an insult, and usually offered up by those with little experience or understanding of loss, move along with, grow with, grow from .. yes, ‘Move on’?, that is uninformed.

  13. Kwai Chang says:

    “best” Tammy quote ever…
    (they’re all great…but this one is GOLDEN)
    Thank you…

  14. Joy says:

    Thank you for posting this. She really is quite a remarkable woman. I always thought that they were the ‘perfect couple’ and after reading this I was right.

  15. francisco says:

    I just recieved living in the material world book no what I expected this book sucks no picture of patty in it I never thought olivia was a narrow-minded but it seems she is. I just hope the film’s worth it to watch.

  16. Aeolian Cadence says:

    Pattie’s in the film. It’s not perfect, but it’s quite lovely.

  17. shelly says:

    I just watched part I. There was a lot of pictures that I’ve not seen before, both Paul and Ringo, looking fantastic. Patty, so lovely, Eric Clapton, hot as ever, the ageless Yoko, Ravi Shankar, Klause, Astrid, George Martin… Georges’ family. So far it’s a great piece of work and a fine tribute. Part II is on tonight.

  18. Ishie says:

    I purchsed the book over a week ago and it’s a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. I love it!
    I was quite impressed with ‘Living Part I’. The photos, footage and commentary shape just who George was as a man, husband, father, friend, musician, meditation devotee etc. One thing stood out however, that he was a sweet, loving and caring human being. The love that his family & friends have for him is well cherished and that speaks volumes about George.
    Looking forward to Part II this evening.

  19. Michael says:

    francisco…not sure how you can read this rendering from Olivia and say she is narrow minded. To me she seems anything but… To each his (or her) own., I guess.

  20. Chelsea says:

    This article shows that Olivia is not only classy, but also incredibly smart. The article is so well-written!

    I’ve been enjoying flipping through the book, though I haven’t gotten the chance to read most of the text.

    I also watched Part I of the documentary last night. I thought it was great, though it’s definitely impressionistic (i.e. it doesn’t have a clearly linear narrative). That makes for a great tribute, I think, but it’s not something I’d show to someone wanting to learn the story of his life. I also didn’t quite understand why Scorsese chose to include songs like Strawberry Fields … it almost seems like George himself took a back seat at times. Anyway, I assume that won’t be the case in Part II.

  21. Julio Serra says:

    That was really touching. She’s great. Wish George had met her when he was a beatle.

  22. Chris says:

    Did anyone see that rare film footage of George singing the papers with Paul around 1976? I think that might have been at the Plaza Hotel. It was when George was saying he “didn’t know what he was singing.” Does anyone know more about that? And why was he running up and down the stairs? What’s the deal with that? I really hope there will be more in the DVDs that will be released later.

  23. Leah says:

    Oh my GOSH the footage was INCREDIBLE! The Tahiti clips were top notch. As well as the clip of George and Dhani together in the Friar Park studio. So awesome. I wish it didn’t nearly blow through George’s life after the Beatles, though. And no mention of the lawsuit throughout the 70s. I did, however, bawl my eyes out at the end. Excellent photos/footage, awesome interviews.

  24. Aeolian Cadence says:

    I can’t imagine anyone walking away from that film not feeling more in love with George.

  25. Carol says:

    There are several pictures of Pattie in the “Living in the Material World” book. One is in India on page 210, another with her behind George is also taken in India on page 220, yet another view of the iconic India photo is on page 229. Look again. There are very few pictures of Olivia in the book, and not to defend her, but, I doubt I’d put too much emphasis on my husband’s brief marriage to a prior wife either were I doing a book on his life.I think the fact that she has been so candid about his ongoing affairs during their life together is admirable. Ditto her not editing out the part where he states that his son is essentially the only thing which tied him to this life and omitted any mention of her. She is clearly an intelligent and caring woman who put up with a lot during their life together and did so with dignity, but to describe them as the perfect couple is not at all accurate given his many betrayals of her and the hurt she felt. It is a testament to her love and strong will that she hung in there and dwelled on the good, finding a way to let go of the bad.

  26. Mimi says:

    The Material World book mirrors the movie and there aren’t many photos of Pattie in the movie. What’s in the movie was chosen by Martin Scorcese and the editors, not Olivia. The movie seems to show George’s first marriage from EC’s perspective which I find odd. I think there was much more to it then the way it ended and wish it wasn’t defined that way. No, I don’t think George and Olivia were a perfect couple: it might be better to say Olivia was the perfect one for George because she probably understood his struggles because of her own strong spiritual aspirations. It did sound cold when George said the only thing keeping him here was that his son needed him but I’d like to think he meant that his other relationships had reached fulfillment.

  27. Since 1963 says:

    When can I buy the DVD?????? I assume it will be well worth it, no?

  28. Chris says:

    Mimi when did George say “the only thing keeping me here is my son…” I don’t recall that. I can totally relate to that statement.
    I would love to learn more then George told the cop to F off. Remember when Dhanni said that? lol

  29. Mimi says:

    Towards the end he talks about what is there really keeping me here and he says my son needs a Father other then that I cant think of anything. Putting it in the context of a person who is dying it may not be as cold as it sounds.

  30. greg raymond says:

    I think she(Olivia) is great. She has handled his memory with the same love and affection as has Yoko with John’s memory. Poor Kurt Cobain.

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