The last refuge

I caught our son dozing with his canine companion, sometime around 2001

I caught our son dozing with his canine companion, sometime around 2001

“I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.”Oscar Wilde

I know very few people who do not lead complex lives, and most of us yearn for simplicity.  Yet the complexity is also a blessing; a rich fabric woven with countless threads that add color, durability or utility.  Thus I have mixed emotions about clearing distractions from my life; I can’t really say that I would be better off without the many people, interests and responsibilities that fill my days.

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere between simplicity and complexity. If we keep places of retreat in our lives, corners where we can find quiet and serenity, we will be better equipped to navigate the more difficult terrain where we encounter challenges that reward us with different gifts.  Today, I wish for you a retreat to — or discovery of — a safe, warm refuge of calm amid the inevitable busyness of life.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. You can view the original with comments here.


  1. Good morning, Julia! You are right on, in this blog. The respite from business and activity recharges us. Yes, I want to work, paint, dance, sing, ice skate, travel, knit, watch foreign movies, hike in the mountains and woods, worship, and spend time with friends and family!
    Having a pet might not be a good choice for me (especially for the pet!) but yoga and my morning meditations are very helpful.
    As an aside speaking of foreign movies, I’ve seen a lot of interesting Japanese and Korean movie lately on flights.

    • Have you seen Parasite yet? I really want to see it but I’m a bit afraid of it, as the trailer suggested violence, which I usually don’t need to see on screen as I find it too upsetting.

      • Yes, I have, but I was on an airplane, where the screen was small, and I could just unplug my earbuds if I was about to hear something disturbing.
        I had watched the beginning previously and thought I knew where it was going and turned it off. Then it won all those awards, and I thought that clearly, I hadn’t seen enough of it to know what was going on, and so I finished watching it the next time I was in a plane. I’ll admit, I was surprised both by the twist in plot, and the violence. I didn’t see that coming at all, and I hadn’t heard anything about it, just that it had won awards. Whew.
        I think it was worth “seeing” if you can watch it with self imposed censoring, like I did.

        • I think the unexpected plot diversions were what made the movie unique and acclaimed. But I don’t think film makers should trick people into subjecting themselves to violent images without some advance notice. It might be a brilliant film and I might get up the nerve to watch it, but I am disturbed by how easily we accept violent imagery as a form of entertainment. We have become far too desensitized to the appearance and concept of murder and other forms of inhumanity. I know my use of inappropriate language has definitely increased due to the influence of repeated profanity in films, and I see evidence that this is true culture-wide (just look at the kind of language now routinely used by newscasters, politicians, etc.) If this is true for foul language, I’m chilled to think it is likely true, at least to some extent, about displays of violence too.

          • Julia, I recently heard on Boston Public Radio an interview with a psychologist (?) who said that we tend to be most like the give people that we spend the most time with. (The grammar used was better, but that was the gist.)
            I’ve actually taken that to heart somewhat, and make sure I don’t spend too much time with profanity and violence. On my most recent flight, I watched the old movie “My Girl” with Dan Akroyd and Jamie Let Curtis, and then listened to music by Brahms.

            • Hi Susan, I wasn’t sure whether the phrase “the give people” was a typo or not,but I left it there since the overall meaning of what you say is clear. I also think it’s true! Along the same lines as you mention, I decided (for now) not to watch Once Upon a Time in Hollywood even though I usually like things set in the 1960’s because they bring back so many childhood memories. When I saw who the director was, I thought “Maybe not…” If you’ve seen the movie and can tell me that there’s not to much blood and gore, I might give it a try. But it supposedly has the Manson Family in the story line, so for now, I’m steering clear. We need to choose carefully the people and things with whom/which we spend our time. Easier said than done, in this age where it’s so easy to default to whatever content producers want us to see.

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