Tag Archives: Truth

Where the women are strong and the living is easy (and never the twain shall meet)

Land of 10,000 lakes.

State of only two seasons: Winter and road construction.

Where all the children are above average.

Minnesota is home to a few hyperbolic descriptions, and most recently WalletHub named it the country’s least stressed state, making it most relaxed, I suppose.

Who is WalletHub to make such declarations? WalletHub monitors credit scores, and its analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 33 key indicators of stress ranging from average hours worked per week to personal bankruptcy rate to share of adults getting adequate sleep.

And Minnesota ranked as No. 51 on the most stressed list.

Are Minnesotans the least stressed people I’ve met in my travels around the country?

I don’t know. If giving a friendly wave or acknowledging the presence of a sojourner with a nod as one’s paths cross is manifestation of lack of stress, then yes, Minnesotans have the corner on a relaxed demeanor. (Frequently outside of Minnesota, I will acknowledge someone with a “good morning” or a “hello”—a fellow jogger going the opposite direction, a guy walking his dog, a woman washing her hands at a neighboring sink in the restroom—and it’s as if I’ve surprised them by having a voice. Or a smile. Some residents of the coasts go out of their way to avoid making eye contact.)

The Minnesota compulsion to greet strangers, some would attribute to the phenomenon of Minnesota Nice. Perhaps. I have heard residents of the state—both natives and short-termers—describe Minnesota Nice as passive-aggressive. I’m skeptical. Minnesota Nice may be passive—”After you.” “No, after you.” “No, please be my guest, go ahead,” ad infinitum—but it’s not veiled aggression. So maybe it is the result of being trusting and assuming the best and getting a good night’s sleep.

One of the factors in WalletHub’s stress index is health and safety related stress factors. Apparently, Minnesotans have among the highest number of psychologists per capita and get the most hours of sleep a night. I come from a family with a long history of cherishing naps and believing nothing good happens after midnight. And that’s to say nothing of the 16 hours of darkness in the long, long winter months. What else you gonna do but sleep? Well, there is something else, I suppose, which might contribute to one of the lowest divorce rates in the country (another stress indicator).

Minnesota also ranks No. 50 in money-related stress factors (only Wyoming is lower), certainly due in  part to the frugal nature of born-and-bred natives. Author Garrison Keillor slyly notes this in his book Lake Wobegon Days: “So the Council changed [the town’s name] one more time, from Lake Wobegone to Lake Wobegon. Businessmen didn’t order new stationery right away, however, not even those who favored the change, but used all their New Albion stock until it ran out.”

In any case, I can take some of my good habits like eating right and maintaining a good credit score with me wherever I choose to settle someday, and the index may offer some insight on where not to settle (let’s just say Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky aren’t exactly calm and soothing places to reside).

If Minnesota is true to form, it’s not taking pride in its least-stressed status.

“Seldom has a town made such a sacrifice in remaining unrecognized so long,” he said, though other speakers were quick to assure him that it had been no sacrifice, really, but a true pleasure.

~ Garrison Keillor in Lake Wobegon Days


Oh, to have the confidence of Luther

That Martin Luther was bold. Martin Luther? The German monk who spurred the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century? That Martin Luther wrote Luther’s Small Catechism which succinctly sums up the Lutheran faith with tidy explanations and statements like, “This is most certainly true.”

Lutherans everywhere are in on this joke, but the rest of you are probably still thinking about the civil rights movement and “I have a dream.” No, not that guy. You Minnesotans understand.

Good ol’ Martin Luther crossed my mind twice today. During one of National Public Radio’s updates on the cardinals meeting in Rome to choose a new pope, I wondered how many of them are the “Martin Luther” type — the rebels who nail Ninety-Five Thesis to the front door of the church in public complaint of church practices, specifically the pope’s practices. Probably none. Martin Luther was a special sort, one who comes along every 1,600 years or so.

Then, in church this evening … Wait, let me explain that. We Lutherans go to church on Wednesdays during Lent (the run-up to Easter). Strange, I know. It’s Catholics who give things up for Lent and eat fish. We Lutherans practice a different form of sacrifice.

Anyway, in church tonight we read Luther’s explanation of the Second Article of Faith which ends in “This is most certainly true.” Instantly, I was brought back to eighth grade and chore of memorizing such things. In order to be confirmed, young Lutherans must memorize most of Luther’s Small Catechism, no small feat for a sleep-deprived teenager more interested in video games and the opposite sex than religious books written in the 16th century. This practice of rote memorization has phrases like “This is most certainly true” ringing in our ears for the better part of our lifetimes.

I admire Luther for being so bold. Explaining faith and God’s intentions takes some gumption. How does he know? Well, there’s his years of study and solid backing by the Bible, but even as an educated adult with access to Google’s millions of definitions and translations, I don’t know. Yet, we Lutherans confidently say, “This is most certainly true.”

Really, what can I say “this is most certainly true” about nowadays? All that’s certain is death and taxes. This is most certainly true.

Paper or plastic? I don’t know. Even those re-usable bags are suspect if you don’t actually re-use them.

Paperbacks or ebooks? I’m straddling the chasm between them. I read both.

Can I count on Social Security? Who knows. I’m not even sure the current rally in the stock market is good news or bad news.

Life and faith and the future are all so murky.

This is most certainly true.