If we reflect a moment, we will see that to fly into the desert in order to be extraordinary is only to the world with you as an implicit standard of comparison. The result would be nothing but self-contemplation, and self-comparison with the negative standard of the world one had abandoned. Some of the monks of the Desert did this, as a matter of fact: and the only fruit of their trouble was that they went out of their heads.
The simple men who lived their lives out to a good old age among the rocks and sands only did so because they had come into the desert to be themselves, their ordinary selves, and to forget the world that divided them from themselves. There can be no other valid reason for seeking solitude or leave the world. And thus to leave the world is, in fact, to help save it in saving oneself.
—Thomas Merton from The Wisdom of the Desert
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