Lesson from a life well-lived
I was a newbie on The Aspen Times reporting staff in December 1995, scratching around for something to do, when the arts editor gladly sent me over to the Baldwin Gallery to interview Harley Baldwin about the opening of a new exhibit.I knew nothing much about art, contemporary or otherwise, but Baldwin and his partner, Richard Edwards, politely showed me around, explained the concept of the gallery and clued me in on the significance of the artist whose works were going up on the clean, white walls.It would be eight-plus years before I had cause to chat again with Harley Baldwin. We didn’t exactly move in the same circles. In fact, I’m not sure he moved in circles at all. I think he was always moving forward – onto the next big thing.At any rate, his untimely death this week left me with a sense of loss and a profound sadness not at all commensurate with our relationship. We were acquaintances at best, and only because I’d spent a couple of delightful hours in his company last spring, interviewing him for a profile about his life and his impact on Aspen.He was gracious and charming and I found it impossible to dislike the man, even though I knew others considered him the ultimate reflection – if not the cause – of all that had gone wrong with Aspen. It’s true, his downtown buildings are filled with shops into which I’ve never ventured, but they’ve never much bothered me. I wasn’t here when Aspen’s streets were lined with funky, one-of-a-kind shops, so I’ve not been one to grieve its transformation into high-end boutiquesville. Harley was genuinely surprised, though, when I told him I’d never been in the Caribou Club – his swank, members-only hot spot that, at least in my mind, oozed exclusivity. It was for the wealthy elite and I’m neither.He invited me to dine at “his table” in order to take in the scene – research for my story – but I declined. I suggested it would be inappropriate to accept an expensive dinner from someone I was supposed to write about objectively, but in truth, part of me simply feared I would stand out – and not in a good way – right down to the Eddie Bauer blue jeans that pretty much sum up my wardrobe. It’s a decision I’ve always regretted. Harley exuded an unmistakable joie de vivre that permeated every aspect of his life. At least, that was my impression. It wasn’t about money, but attitude – loving what you do and doing what you love.I came away thinking that I could learn a lesson from this man – that he knew something about a life well-lived. Janet Urquhart knows money can’t buy happiness, but she bets it doesn’t hurt. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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