Back in the USA

I returned from Denmark a week ago. It’s been a whirlwind trying to get over jet lag, get back to work and catch up on everything at home. The last few nights I’ve been hammering out a paper to report on the conference I attended on Social Banking in Europe. It’s been so crazy that I haven’t had time yet to write my impressions of the trip.

The first week in Denmark was spent cycling alone across the main island, starting in Copenhagen and heading gradually westward toward the mainland. It was the kind of solitary week that I really need once in a while to recharge my batteries. Denmark is a lovely country for cycling, and the quiet peaceful miles gave me plenty of time to think. When I get more time I’ll post some photos from that week.

When I arrived at the conference near Arhus, I was thrown back into the world of people. There were over 80 participants from all over Europe, with a few from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and South Africa. I was the only American. It was an extremely diverse group, but there were a number of young people around my age and we had some really positive conversations. About social banking, about our cultures, and about life in general.

I realized at the conference that I am basically starved for intellectual stimulation. No person can be summed up with a single label, but I definitely have an “intellectual” side (i.e. having intense conversations about topics that most people find inane). And it’s clear that I am not getting enough time with that part of my personality, because I just soaked up the conference like a sponge. It was fantastic to hear so many divergent viewpoints, so many conflicting opinions, so many intelligent people with something to say and the courage to back it up with action. It was like the university experience some people talk about but that I didn’t experience in my conformity-minded church college. I was really inspired.

Now I get to come home and turn that inspiration into action myself. I’m still not sure where to start. I love the idea of being in a community where I can express my opinions openly and be understood, and even challenged. I also know that I and my family have a lot of other needs that are wonderfully met by the community we belong to now. It’s a balancing act. I suppose you never find the perfect balance, but I definitely have another arrow in my quiver that I’d like to use a little more often.

Another note: I brought a book along and read it on the airplane. “Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse. It was incredibly timely. The book addresses the whole idea that people do not have a single personality or “side”, but that they are many-faceted and very complex. I highly recommend it to anyone who is even a little bit interested in exploring the concept of “self” and self-perception.

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