Vail Daily column: Equipoise of isolation |

Vail Daily column: Equipoise of isolation

It is the first workday in the New Year, a day caught between the optimism of infinite possibilities and the depression of leaving the holiday season behind. In this time of transition, we are exposed to conflicting attitudes about ourselves, our community, our world. For me, this changeover brings a physical manifestation as I return to our frosty Valley from a much-needed sojourn to warmer international climes. Although I look forward to becoming re-ensconced in the bubble that is our community, I also harbor renewed appreciation for life outside our cocoon. From a psychological perspective, insulating one’s mind from the onslaught of daily inputs is a worthy endeavor not without its detractions. If properly calibrated, mental and physical isolation is a tremendous asset. It is when one isolates oneself from reality that legal and other issues begin to surface.

A social creature by nature, I nonetheless am often drawn to the dream of holing up in a cabin deep in the woods, surrounded only by my wife, daughter and the majesty of nature. A literally monastic existence is also compelling. To pad through an ancient abbey concerned only with apothecary experiments and Trappist brewing is a lovely idea. However, the vow of celibacy is far beyond my desire or capacity.

In the quest for geographical isolation, it is easy to venture too deep and cut off streams of commercial and human resources. While it may have worked for Thoreau at Walden Pond, most of us require a bit more balance. The Valley offers this equipoise between isolated and cosmopolitan. While we have our own subculture and social morays, we are also exposed to external trends through our visitors and the connective power of the Internet. With our denizens still possessing frontier spirit, entrepreneurialism can flourish in an authentic environment. The close-knit business and social networks provide opportunities to make or break endeavors and reputations with equal ease. One can quickly rise to be the proverbial big fish in a small pond.

There’s More to the World

But we cannot always swim in our own little fish bowl. We must take to the open ocean of life, even for a week or two, to swim with the sharks and dance with the angelfish. To get lost in a strange maze of alleys, to embrace the aromas of a foreign cuisine, to see people clad in rags instead of Patagonia are the experiences that give our isolated lives the proper perspective. It is dangerous, especially for our local youth, to assume that the world looks and acts like our picturesque villages.

Cartographic isolation often begets that of the mental variety. For monks and writers, this separation is the source of their power. It is the meditative qualities of extricating oneself from hives of activity that makes isolation so attractive. Bringing peace to the riotous cacophony of my mind is a constant struggle. I envy those who are able to isolate their mental centers from the distracting thoughts that cause unnecessary stress and strife. To concentrate only on the intake and exhale of breath resets one to a place of equanimity. When my brain is left to its own devices, it is off to the races. It examines matters both minute and overlarge: the details of cases and the terror of my loved ones’ mortality. The former thoughts are at least helpful to my clients’ interests. The latter just fixates uselessly on the inevitable.

There are those whose minds are too isolated. Comfortably immersed in the deluded world they have created for themselves, they blissfully proceed through life convinced that their constructed fiction is reality. Any attempt to shatter the carefully protected illusion is met with vehement rebuke. New Year’s resolutions are anathema to these folks, as they are already convinced that theirs is an existence that cannot be improved upon. These are the actors that most often serve as the protagonists in all-too-real legal dramas.

Even if, in the moment, we do not want to hear differing points of view, they are critical to our mental growth and stability. Just as I cannot treat Vail Pass as the Berlin Wall, I must also prevent my thoughts from hardening into dogma. A lawyer’s certainty in the justness of his cause must be balanced by consideration of the opposing party’s arguments, well-crafted or not.

These heady first days of 2016 bring excellent opportunities for an equipoise of isolation. Work will be balanced by play; intimate nights by the fire set off by excursions into cities and forests. It is going to be a good year!

T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner and mediator at Voice Of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, or visit

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