Immigrants of Minnesota

Immigrants of Minnesota

Someone told me recently that the first settlers who came to Minnesota were from the Nordic countries in Europe and were determined to preserve their traditions and beliefs in a pure and uncontaminated way. Their essence of privacy and modesty, of not showing emotions and being dedicated to good deeds and pure thoughts struggles today, with the challenges new generations are forcing upon them, trying to maintain thought purity in a world that screams of more inclusion, action, openness and most of all, change. All of this may explain why Minnesota can be so frugal and traditional in some aspects and so progressive and open minded in some others. Those differences make this people burst at the seams because The Times They Are A-Changin’…

When I first came to Minnesota, I wanted to walk the streets of Duluth where Bob Dylan was born and grew up. One of the coldest cities in the United States, with an all-time record of   -39 degrees Fahrenheit (-39 Celsius) on January 15, 1972, Duluth is, as other cities in this State, a sharp mixture of tradition and refreshing, albeit uncomfortable, progressiveness.

It is fascinating to me how Bob Dylan was able to perceive and denounce so much injustice and greed in society.
Probably the stark contrasts he witnessed made him imagine how people live very different lives. Growing up in a town that becomes alive in the summer, with joyful, merry-go-lucky visitors who enjoy the beautiful lake views, and then dies during the winter months when walking outside turns into one of the most painful and dangerous experiences in the world, must have been a deep lesson in differences between humans and their realities. Those stark contrasts that can be applied to the very essence of humankind: people in Minnesota can be as unconcerned and carefree as summer birds or as committed to what is really important as the most extreme survivors in the planet.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

(Songwriter: Bob Dylan. The Times They Are A-Changin’)

And because this is a land of contrasts, I wanted to think of Bob Dylan’s origins from a Jewish family and those of the family of my friend, Irene, who came from Germany several generations ago.

A couple of weeks ago, Irene invited me to visit the consecrated land where her whole family rests. Not different, at first, from any other little town cemetery, the reality set in quite quickly, all these German names and the frugality they contributed to this State is evident in the solid stones chosen to mark the presence of these people who had to deal with frozen lands and scarce resources.
The deeply rooted traditions preserved for posterity and the knit-tight family bonds are still alive and well in the humble respect of Irene and the stories she tells about her ancestors. One of the ones that moved me: the devoted love between her father and mother.

The respect for the name and the bloodline is still breathing and well preserved here, even if a hint of big change is gaining momentum.

Minnesota is rich in tradition, many towns remind us of the people who came here to brave the elements and forge a destiny. Immigration should be understood as a normal process of humanity and doors should remain open out of respect for the traditions that are at the foundation of these lands.

Germans like Irene and Jews like Bob Dylan, thrived here, together, way before nationalist ideas divided them in hatred in the rest of the world. Nowadays it is the turn of Somalians and Latinos to come share this land of 10,000 lakes. Taken in full context, it is difficult to ignore the amazing melting pot Minnesota is, because even if some locals still try to hold on to their Nordic origins, reality is sinking in and showing them that the times they are a-changing.  

Will the new generations take the time to visit these minuscule villages and pay homage to those first European ancestors or are these beautiful little towns condemned to be read as just one more page of the history of Minnesota that is maybe doomed to be forgotten?


Photo by ginger juel on Unsplash; Adriana Avellino.

© Adriana Avellino and Questions from Life, 2019-2099. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Adriana Avellino and Tell me about it! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How Karma got me

How Karma got me

Many of those who know me, and share life with me on a regular basis, know that I see life through the eyes of astrology which is not the same as saying that I believe in the moon horoscope (what your newspaper horoscope goes by: the rotation of the moon around planet earth, a very disposable influence in my view) because I prefer to observe the slow motion planets and their influence on us.

Nothing is absolute…

In my series of astrology classes we will discuss the importance of taking into account the orbital speed of each planet and the relative pattern of their trajectory and how those two concepts change the interpretation of the events in our lives.

Slow motion planets are the ones who transform us. In his book “Astrology, Karma and transformation” Stephen Arroyo, considers the orbits of the slowest ones:  Saturn, Uranus, Neptune… and Pluto. I like the idea of adding Pluto to that formula because it is clearly a planet, regardless of what scientists consider as necessary requirements before a stone may be upgraded to planet status. If they can’t be sure of such a thing, how come they can affirm planets do not influence our lives? So much to be learnt…

I am writing this as Dorian is playing plays pranks on Florida… will it hit, will it not? And since I had to change my plans to visit my Goddaughter/niece/teacher Clara, I take some time to reflect on the “Malefic Planets” and the malefic condition of those planets. For centuries, astrologers regarded these planets as the evil ones, the ones with the capacity to drastically change our lives. Still, there is a double-entendre between the concept of the quality of change as an evil one and the acceptance that some changes open the door to greater opportunities. Therefore, the concept of evil may very well be the center of discussions in the classes of astrology/philosophy we will share in days to come.

Dorian is being particularly “interesting” due to its extremely slow motion and it creates fear, uncertainty and disbelief. The disbelief factor is what I think is the most dangerous side of it: people lose interest in paying attention to the hurricane, they might stay back and not hear the evacuation orders with possibly sad consequences if the storm switches path and surprises them.

But that quality of slow motion is what makes Dorian so potentially harmful as is the capacity of Saturn to make you understand what it feels like to be deprived of basic needs and losing loved ones, of Uranus to make us experience unexpected life-changing events, like the change of life around our 42nd birthday and of Neptune that causes us to move to a different country with a different culture and stay there for a long time, thus making it interesting to consider the slow motion of the planet.

But I started talking about karma. Do you believe in karma? I want to.

I was born Virgo, the sign of solitude, maybe that is why “100 years of solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is my favorite book.
Virgo is a sign that has to learn how to live alone and appreciate the value of loneliness. And I was born to a Taurus mother who taught me value of material things. Until I learned that objects don’t make you happy I had to live life as she taught me to: always afraid of walking away and being on my own in fear of not having enough. My sister is a Capricorn and, ruled by Saturn, she had to learn what being deprived of her loved ones and buried in responsibilities while juggling three alarm clocks at a time really means, she is a prisoner of calendars and clocks, my mother is a prisoner of her material possessions and I am a prisoner of my loneliness. Unfortunately, and just to share that part of the story with you, my sister is learning to let go of those capricornian fears, I am enjoying being alone and how beautiful my time with myself is, and my mother hasn’t been able to learn that material objects are the ones that are making her profoundly unhappy and bitter.

Any other astrologer would tell you that, a home with those three earth signs in it would be an extremely productive, clean and functional home buzzing with energy. Those three bees working in harmony for the benefit of the beehive, what could be more earthy and peaceful?

Well, nothing more far removed from the truth, mother dearest made me love my moments without her and taught my sister to be terrified of almost everything.

That is how karma gets us, it shows us the possibility of the perfect picture, like that one of an earthy and stable home that could have been, just to change our perception, either abruptly or in a chain of relentless changes that happen one at a time, slowly altering our surroundings, just like Dorian teases Floridians these days in a way so nobody can be really sure how or where changes are going to hit.

For those who firmly believe in karma it is easy to understand how life presents us with the maze we have to walk in order to learn what the roadblocks and the exits are.

For those who don’t, the exercise of reflecting on those life stories may be a turning point towards considering that maybe something is out there, something we can’t wrap our heads around, just the same as scientists doubt whether Pluto is a planet or just a stone in space.

Photo by Alex, NASA, Manu and Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash


© Adriana Avellino and Tell me about it!, 2019-2099. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Adriana Avellino and Tell me about it! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.