Dedication to a Rock Star

Ariane arrived in Aspen Saturday with Nic and Emma. I’ve been here for a week already, attending the Literary Festival. Ariane’s mom Paula Zurcher (who I adore!) lives here and we come out about four times a year because we love to see her but also to some extent, because travel anywhere else is too difficult. Emma only eats about nine different food items and she only likes to do physically oriented pleasure activities like swimming and skiing. While I think it’s pretty safe to say that Nic wouldn’t hold up too well on a four hour tour of the Louvre, he would at least enjoy other sightseeing activities and have the thrill of visiting faraway places he’s read about or heard about.

No sightseeing for Emma. Unless the sight is a roller coaster or a water slide, which we fortunately have close by in Glenwood Springs, where Nic and Emma went yesterday. Ariane arrived here in time for the reopening of the newly renovated Paepke Auditorium, named after Ariane’s grandfather Walter Paepke, who founded the Aspen Institute,  Aspen Music Festival and Aspen Design Conference, which is now known as the AIGA – the professional association for design. He was a true visionary, a man who accrued his wealth making cardboard boxes, yet had the audacity to run ads for his company that featured art by Herbert Bayer and sayings by Lao-Tzu  — not one word about boxes.

The auditorium opening was amazing, particulary due to the hugely talented Anna Deveare-Smith who performed a reprise of her impression of Paula and her sister Toni DuBrul having lunch with her, which is profound and poignant and one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  She ends her brilliant performance with a story told to her by the Paepcke daughters.  Elizabeth Paepcke, their mother, planted a young sapling in her backyard.  Afterward she said, “It will be beautiful in 50 years.”  At the time she was in her 70’s and when it was pointed out that she would not be around to witness that she replied, “I know.  But others will.”

Paula and Ariane would never mention any of this family history stuff on this blog, but there is a legacy to be celebrated that is inspirational and it impacts Emma as much, if not more, as any of us.  After all Emma is the great grand-daughter of those two powerhouses.

Claudia Cunningham is a dear friend of ours who has been incredibly supportive to all of us – the children adore her and when she stays with us in New York, it’s pajama party time. She and I always talk about our firm, no intractable belief that Emma is going to be a huge rock star (and maybe already is). We don’t say this in a half-kidding tone. We mean it. Emma is a natural born performer. She loves an audience, she has an incredible pitch-perfect voice, a set of pipes that can blow the doors off a taxi cab, a gift for the grand gesture and the big finish. And she is staggeringly beautiful.

Why not? Why shouldn’t she be a rock star? She was raised on Gwen Stefani. She loves singing and performing more than anything – even a carousel ride or an all day trip to the water park, and that’s saying something. Should we not dream big dreams for her? Are we over-reaching, not being practical, have our heads in the clouds, our feet off the ground? Are we kidding ourselves? Are we in denial?

Hey, if a business man from Chicago can turn his father’s lumber company into The Container Corporation of America and then go on to create the Aspen Institute, why can’t a beautiful, talented eight year old autistic girl grow up to be a rock star?  She certainly has a head start by having the ambition and vision in her genes.

Here’s to you Emma! You are awesome. And when you read this ten years from now in the back of your limo heading to a sold out show at Madison Square Garden you will always know we believed in you – and never settled for anything less than encouraging your dreams and fueling your heart’s desire every step of the way.

Rock on!

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