It is hard to believe it has been a month already, but I am winding things down here in Helsinki. My original plan to post regularly was upset by a computer failure which knocked out my Mac for about 2 weeks, but in a way, that pushed me to absorb more and output less. It also helped me unplug from email, news, and all the usual noise we cannot seem to quit. This has been a great start to my sabbatical, full of travel and intellectual exchange. I have really started to know Helsinki and got an unexpected chance to see both an old friend, Beth G., and a city I would not have predicted I'd travel to--St. Petersburg. My head has started to clear a bit of all the day to day dross that prevents one from starting to think about what to do next, though I am now appreciating how long it takes to take stock. It's a good thing I am going to live to be 300 years old because my head clears very slowly, indeed.
Who knows what will come of this trip. It may have initiated things, affirmed things, planted seeds--or maybe it was a break, a caesura in the busy life of a rapidly-becoming-middled-aged guy. It certainly gave me a sense that I can travel, can figure out how to navigate a city by myself (which I have done many times, but not in a long time), and can be alone without being lonely. It has also convinced me that Finnish is probably a language just for Finns and that Russia is a country where you have to be careful. (My travel partner there was pickpocketed of passport and money less than 12 hours after we got there. Nice.)