THE BLOG
10/18/2011 06:07 pm ET Updated Dec 18, 2011

The Measure of a Man

Just as the first part of Martin Scorsese's documentary on George Harrison, Living in the Material World, closed with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," part two opens with a voice over of George singing, alone, just him and a guitar, a very sardonic version of his famous song:
"I look at the trouble and hate that is raging, while my guitar gently weeps, as I'm sitting here doing nothing but aging, still my guitar gently weeps... still my guitar gently weeps."

I know how he feels. As I sit here and type this, I am aging. I fell in love with George for the first time by the end of this second part of the journey. Scorsese had done such a good job of portraying the man, I now know a bit of what mattered to him, what made him tick. As a glimpse into who he loved and who loved him, it was deliciously filled with well chosen words that carried weight, and pictures that went beyond words. It wasn't just more 'celebrity information'... god knows we have more than enough of that.

Part two almost immediately got away from the mega-myth of the Beatles and delved into the truth about a man and the life he chose to live. At the end of one of his solo albums Harrison closed his liner notes with the words, "All you need is love." I couldn't help but notice that George Harrison's life was so clearly full of that love. As I watched McCartney talking about him, and Ringo and then Yoko, it was clear that in spite of all the challenging parts of their history together, they all had a soft spot for George. Yoko put it this way when she was talking about John and George, "They has something going, you know." Eric Clapton, a beloved lifelong friend simply said at one point, "He was just a magical guy." And Paul, when asked now what he missed most about George, paused and said, "His humor, his friendship... his love." His love. Isn't that what we would want everyone close to us to miss the most?

I found Harrison's life-long love affair with music so intriguing. That is really the thread of this tale: making music with his friends, with those he admired, with the spiritual teachers he learned from along the way, and of course, magically, the Beatles. It seemed to be his way of deeply connecting. He spoke as often with his guitar as he did with his words. Not that his words were too shabby either, "The whole thing is to change... try and make everything better and better...that's what the whole physical world is about, change." I loved it when he was talking about the effect of old-written words of advice from the quite eccentric man who had originally built his outrageous house, "Scan not a friend with microscopic glasses" to which Harrison says, "I mean, that helped me actively to ease up on whomsoever I thought I loved, it gave me the consciousness not to hang on to the negative side of it, to be more forgiving." That's a mouthful right there. And then, "But somehow you know, you have to look within yourself otherwise you go crackers." That's such a great way of saying it. Few of us escape the journey inward. Others of us go crackers.

I think my favorite part of this look into his life came from George's wife Olivia, who spoke of how he "painted life" and of their enduring, but decidedly, at times, challenging love, "Sometimes people say, 'what's the secret of a long marriage?' It's like... You don't get divorced." I love that. She went on to say, about weathering the hiccups in their marriage over the years, "You go through things and you go, wow, there's a reward at the end of it, there's this incredible reward: you love each other more, you learn something, you let go of something... those hard edges get softened. You're that block of stone, and life shapes you and takes away those hard edges." I wonder if we're a little too quick to walk away these days.

One of his good friends said, "When he was first diagnosed with cancer he told me -- his main thing was not to upset me -- there is a man who was not well, who was worrying about me, and all the people around him. So that's the measure of the man." Indeed. The last words of the documentary are Olivia explaining his last moments as he left this earth, "He just lit the room." I'd say his very existence made the whole world brighter.