retreat & refuge


I retreated.

Sometimes, it's the thing to do. The word carries the stink of failure only because it's so often used in the context of military campaigns. As a noun, it denotes a place of temporary isolation, or at least removal from routine. This reclaims the word and adds connotations of relaxation and reflection, rest and refreshment. I'm not being a wise guy with the prefix, "re." It literally signifies the range of concepts associated with the overall renewal of a retreat.

It doesn't matter what kind of retreat you make, so long as it functions for you. Even a short meditation brings benefits, which is proved every day all over the world by millions. I live in and among people who find a huge connection to books—the writing and the reading of them, each a way of retreating. A writer retreats to the interior self of concentration to compose writing, yet takes the detailed, sensuous world along as memory and imagination. A reader acts intersubjectively with the created text—words blend into his or her conscious mind, create a unique experience, adding to that person's understanding of self and de rerum natura, how things are.

My retreat was sensible. I mean this in the most exact way. The air was thin up on the slopes but it was often moist with rain, always scented with remarkable perfumes of pine, fog, hot granite, forest soil, and a hundred other things my human senses could not apprehend. 

Sensible, the crows running their loud parliament from the branches of beetle-killed lodgepole. Sensible the  spilling of the tea-colored stream in the noon, but best in the night when the accompaniment was mostly starlight and wind.

Sensible, the cool rain puddled on the bench under a foggy 6 a.m. sky.

It was a good retreat, and I have marked its boundary well. Refuge is ever temporary.