They don’t have their wives or girlfriends with them. They all wear the same plain garment—not black robes, but old red scrubs. Their hair often grows scraggly, as they—like monks—don’t have many mirrors. They don’t care what they look like. The food isn’t very flavorful. They’re cut off from what used to be their lives, their own hustles and habits.
Their contact with those outside—overpriced collect calls, the occasional letter—is limited. A good number of them spend a great deal of time praying, reading, writing, contemplating their lives on a level deeper than they would have outside these walls. They spend most of the day in small rooms called cells.
The most important and obvious difference, I tell them, is that the monks I’ve met choose to live this way.