“The glass says you are this and we are that and that is how it will always be.”
– Ivan the Mighty Silverback
If you ever listen to JPR, you know that “the Law Office of Robert Good” is a collective listener. JPR programs keep us company throughout the day. But recently the news delivered is especially hard to hear. Violence. Rage. Isolation. I attempt to write an upbeat LocalsGuide article and the words that should whimsically promote my business don’t flow.
My mind wanders to The One and Only Ivan, a children’s book based on the true story of a silverback gorilla who lived alone in a concrete cage in a Tacoma, Washington mall for 27 years before an animal welfare group organized for his transfer to a zoo in Atlanta.
My life is flashing lights and pointing fingers and uninvited visitors. Inches away, humans flatten their little hands against the wall of glass that separates us. The glass says you are this and we are that and that is how it will always be… I press my nose against the glass. My nose print, like your fingerprint, is the first and last and the only one. The man wipes the glass and I am gone.
Like Ivan, we can be surrounded by people and still feel totally alone. When we find ourselves isolated because of our differences, our assumptions, or our own sensitivities, it’s easy to feel like Ivan, disconnected amidst a tide of pointing fingers. Disconnected, it’s easy to fixate on others’ transgressions.
I see Ivan’s struggle in my clients’ stories. Estranged families, damaged businesses relationships, people broken by grief. Especially on the faces of divorcing couples, I see Ivan’s isolation and despair. Disconnected from each other, sensing the losses larger than the life they built together, they point fingers. The subtle violence that begins to brew at this juncture fans the flames of litigation.
In many cases litigation is truly necessary. But when isolation and despair is the catalyst, litigation typically won’t solve the underlying problems. I encourage clients to explore mediation as a peaceful alternative, especially where children are involved. The lower the conflict, the more benefits the child receives from contact with the non-custodial parent, the more regularly child support is paid, and the higher the likelihood of establishing an amicable co-parenting plan. Mediation allows couples to stay present with the losses they feel while rebuilding the lives they will lead independent from each other.
My hope for all of my clients is that like Ivan, they too are released from their isolation, and that even in the midst of their difficult life transitions, they can be present, connected, and maybe even peaceful.
Robert (Bob) Good has practiced law in Jackson County for 23 years, specializing in family law, estate planning and administration and business law. Contact him at his Ashland office at (541) 482-3763.