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The Illusion of the Protective Trench

When it came to friends my age, midthirties, who live in the world, I already knew something of their discouragement. Too often the protective trench [i.e., worldly pursuits that they hoped would insulate them from an impersonal and uncaring world] transforms into a rut, a hamster-wheel with no exits. The achievements that once promised purpose and satisfaction have not really lived up to their expectations. The office with a view has conferred status but not real confidence; the bank account may have grown in value but is never enough. So much effort goes into creating a landing pad, but the wheels of desire and dissatisfaction keep spinning. On the heels of expectation, disappointment follows. And more often than not, this is accompanied by recrimination. The blame might target a spouse or a boss, a city or a president; then changing partners or jobs or houses looks like the perfect way to regenerate a life that has gotten stuck. The difficulty here is that this benign-looking repetition keeps the longing for freedom just below the surface. And the so-called normalcy of the hamster-wheel activity keeps people running away from themselves. Isolate, but too scared to be alone. “Running in circles” describes the world of confusion.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
from In Love with the World, What a Monk Can Teach You About Living from Nearly Dying

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