Author speaks about living an ‘authentic life’

Michael Lewis

Author E. Lynn Harris speaks to a crowd last night about living an authentic life and being yourself. GAVIN JACKSON | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

The three most important dates in a person’s life, as E. Lynn Harris sees it, are the days of birth, death and “dashing” – how someone lives day to day.

“So many of us spend so much time in dashing living unauthentically,” Harris said. “It’s hard to live an authentic life. Dashing takes dignity.”

An award-winning writer and author of eight novels, E. Lynn Harris spoke about living an authentic life last night to a crowd of 30 students and visitors in the Student Center Ballroom.

Black United Students presented Harris as part of the Ebony Speaker Series. The event was sponsored by a host of other student organizations.

Harris is the first African-American male to have books appear on both the fiction and non-fiction New York Times Best Sellers lists.

He referred to being influenced by other students and significant others, even professors. Harris said he pursued what he thought the world wanted him to pursue.

“When you spend your time trying to please others, people never have a chance to know who you really are,” Harris said. “The life I lived as a student wasn’t who I was at all.”

Harris recently returned to his alma mater, the University of Arkansas, where he teaches courses in creative writing and literature.

When he became a writer, he was suffering from depression and attempted suicide. Harris admitted not liking who he had become. What he was looking for, he claimed, was with him all the time.

“I wanted to write because I knew I could put into words what it was like to live a lie,” Harris said. “It’s a hard thing not being able to live with yourself.”

BUS president Matt Cox said he enjoyed hearing about living an authentic life.

“You don’t have to live the way people expect you to live, and I needed to hear it,” Cox said.

Akron resident Jeanette Carter said Harris appeared very personable.

“I wasn’t expecting him to be so forthright and encourage students to follow their dream and find their passion,” Carter said.

Harris offered some advice: Find something you’re willing to do for free, then figure out how you can get paid for it.

“That will bring you true joy,” Harris said. “Take a chance and listen to your heart. You owe it to yourself. It takes a lot of courage to be authentic.”

If that passion persists, it will come true.

“It matters not how much we own, but how we live and love pursuing our dash.”

Contact safety reporter Michael Lewis at [email protected].