The whole last seven days were spent by me and several other students reading at the castle Alt-Pernstein. Some of the students had organized a reading trip to this idyllic place so we could get some of the compulsory reading for our reading list done and discuss the books (which were themed around incest).
I spent a week reading, walking around in the massive forest that surrounds the castle and talking and listening to these highly intelligent people sharing their ideas. There was no TV and no computer. The serene silence was only interrupted whenever one of the students took his viola to play for us (and although I'm not into classic music, I found that it served quite well to order your thoughts and ponder on all sorts of stuff). It's amazing how many hours a day can have when you don't spend it among technology.
Coming back from the castle was almost like a culture shock. You're among these highly educated and thoroughly kind and pleasant people all the time. There are no arguments, only focused discussions on a civilized level (friendly, productive arguments, so to say). When you come home from such a trip, even a not-so-serious argument seems quite harsh. You realize how uncommunicative it is to sit in front of the TV while talking (because suddenly people don't even seem to hear your questions, when you got used to having even a hint of an attempt to say something recognized).
This made me once again realize how much influence the people who you surround yourself with make on you and your sense of happiness and satisfaction. As the article from my last posting says: "True satisfaction comes only through direct relationships with living realities. A good conversation with dear friends is far and away a greater source of joy than viewing a DVD."
It makes such a big difference to be among people who are not trying to be better than you or put you (or others) down, or who have so much anger inside that they forget to enjoy the small pleasures life offers. But within a few days, I'll probably go back to my old ways without realizing how harsh parts of it are. It's a shame you can't bottle feelings in small vessels to preserve them.