Vail Daily column: A reflection upon the nature of time and place
February 26, 2017
The well-worn wooden table held the usual trappings of dinner: juicy steaks, perfectly crisped potatoes, garden-fresh tomatoes and some sweet corn. It was a repast that mirrored myriad of others in the past decades, a comforting reminder some places are capable of a repetition which never becomes tiresome. But, this time in this place was very, very different. She was not around, was not seated to my right, her witty quips not there to broaden my smile and warm my heart. They were forever silenced.
Places in time
There are places we routinely occupy: offices, beds, backyards, the end barstool at the local watering hole. Imagining a composite snapshot of ourselves at different times in these specific places is a fascinating thought exercise. The geographic variable remains constant, while everything else shifts: the company, our mood, our appearance and the conversations. As time marches inexorably forward, it is almost as if we are stationary, rooted in a particular place. While we may not be perceived as moving, we surely hope that we are growing, learning and becoming a better version of ourselves.
When I revisit a place that had significant impact in a prior phase of my life, whether it was an old office or a college dorm or a ski run I used to hit at regular intervals, I take a moment to compare my current self with the one who inhabited the same space years ago. Sometimes I lament the trajectory that took me from that spot, wishing I could be more footloose as I was in my younger days. Or, happily, I will imagine myself as a freshman sitting in my new room and amaze myself at the maturing I have done in the (approaching) two decades hence. The place itself becomes a sort of time machine, without the need for a flux capacitor.
Everyone needs their special place or places. It may be an art gallery, a library nook, a trading floor, a granite spire, a left-peeling surf break or your grandmother’s kitchen. The type is unimportant, as long as it is important to you. It is a place to call your own, to hold dear and as constant as possible, to let the crash of time wash around you, to commune with the spirits that have previously inhabited it
— your former self included.
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It's a journey
The interval of a place in one's life need not be long in order to be powerful. When you're on the beginning of a skin track with a long slog ahead of you, the endeavor seems incredibly onerous. Or, setting out from the trailhead on your bike, you cannot imagine how you are going to cover all of those miles and vertical feet. But, inevitably (hopefully), you return back to the same ground, mission completed, powder shredded, big ride done. There is a stark contrast between the trepidation and apprehension you exhibited on the outbound journey and the joy and feeling of accomplishment which is plastered across your face on the flipside. It is an important lesson: embrace the challenge, because the uphill is never as bad as it seems or, if it is, then at least there is a downhill to make you giddy.
Consider the opposite
The converse is instructive as well. If you set off from the bottom of the journey similar to a lit firecracker with no forethought, no gear and no clue, then you may be lucky to retread the same trail on the back end. If you do make it back from the woods alive, then you may be despondent to compare your formerly eager countenance to the bedraggled shell that limps back to the place from which you left. Next time you venture to this spot, you will likely be more conscious of the ramifications of the trip and less spontaneous and excitable. To have the mental image of the place in your mind's eye is to have a bookmark highlighting an important passage in the book of your life.
Everyone needs their special place or places. It may be an art gallery, a library nook, a trading floor, a granite spire, a left-peeling surf break or your grandmother's kitchen. The type is unimportant, as long as it is important to you. It is a place to call your own, to hold dear and as constant as possible, to let the crash of time wash around you, to commune with the spirits who have previously inhabited it, your former self included. In our society's rush to expand, to conquer and to progress, we must remember to respect the sanctity of our fellow humans' places. The value of these places cannot be measured in currency, but their destruction can bankrupt.
With luck, we may be able to keep our places for a good long while, but we will never stay ahead of time. In this milieu, the present takes on an outsized importance and the inclination to put off a project or an effort or a thank you or a hug until an indeterminate point in the future seems incredibly foolhardy. Now is the time. No matter the place.
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, email@example.com or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.