Life Through the Lens

           AJ Harris experiences life as if it were a movie. As he goes about his daily routine, he notices the conditions that make for a perfect scene. He imagines the students headed to class, some tired from late night and some dressed for a class presentation, reviewing note cards as they walk in hopes of a decent grade as a simple song plays in the background that conveys the monotony of daily life.  Life unfolds as if it were film for him, one scene at a time, one song at a time.

          The soundtrack to his life’s movie? With a sly smile he said, “Now that’s a whole ‘nother story.”

         It isn’t music itself that stimulates Harris; it is what the music represents. It is a beautiful collection of independent, unrelated instruments. He doesn’t have a favorite band or artist but claims that John Anthony Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the “funky rhythm” of Stevie Wonder would be on his life’s playlist.

         Harris walks to the beat of his own drummer and is passionate about only two things in life: the guitar and film. When asked what three things he couldn’t live without, after serious contemplation, he responded: the guitar, a video camera, and a surfboard. 

        “When I play the guitar, I get lost in the music. It makes me relax, and puts me at ease,” Harris said. 

          Harris’s humble approach to life often leaves him out of the spotlight. But when he walks into a room, it is difficult not to notice him. Perhaps it’s his six foot stature or his 215 lb. frame. Or maybe it is the way he carries himself: a subtle confidence that demands attention that he so often shies away from. His appearances clearly indicate he was genetically bred to be a sports star, but after talking to him it is obvious he has yet to lose his childhood innocence.

           In fact, on Christmas day he still does the same thing he did when he was five years old. AJ and his brother Chris wait eagerly on the top of the stairs while his parents turn on the tree lights, rearrange presents and prepare untitled5the video camera. When everything is ready they scurry down the stairs to a room full of presents. With AJ being 20-years-old and his brother 19-years-old, the sound they make when they run down the stairs to greet their Christmas surprise is, as AJ so humorously puts it, “comparable to that of a landslide.”

           Though Harris has a gentile nature and an easygoing approach, he does enjoy a challenge. He pushes himself as a running back on Elon’s varsity football team and as a student hoping to one day become a movie director. He makes what many consider to be hard work, enticing and exciting.  Everything to him seems to be a learning experience. In addition to his Zen-like approach to life, he has the attitude that nothing in life comes free and is a firm believer in hard work.

            Like his dad always told him, “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.”  While striving for perfection, he understands that life doesn’t always turn out the way you want.

            His grandfather, the late Al Angelo, died in April from pancreatic cancer. Harris said he would like to be remembered, “Just like my grandfather is remembered: Someone who is willing to put others before himself, who is selfless beyond belief, and who was easily the best person I’ve ever known.”

          Harris claims the key ingredient to life is “understanding yourself, because once you understand yourself, you can better understand everyone else.” He is deeply sensitive to the needs of others and selfless beyond belief. After interviewing several of Harris’s friends individually, they unanimously decided Harris was the go-to guy. He is the one to turn to if you were in trouble, need to talk, needed a ride, or simply needed anything at all.  Taylor Harlan described Harris as, “non-judgmental. He makes you feel comfortable and at ease.”

         Harris never gets too high, but never gets too low either. He likes to keep a level head while never taking life to seriously.

         Harris has mastered the beginning of his life as a movie and continues to walk through life without a script in hopes of finding the perfect and ending. 

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