Linda in Northfield, Mensagenda Editor

About Mensagenda

Minnesota Mensa published Vol. I, No. 1 of our newsletter, then called the Minnesota Mensa, in June of 1965. Approaching six decades later and winning awards along the way, we continue to provide a monthly publication, now called Mensagenda.

As expected in a newsletter, we inform our local membership with organizational updates and provide details about our events. The real benefit is that, just like our events, Mensagenda is for our members, by our members.

The love of learning in Mensa is not just about supporting our scholarship but in enriching your own mind and sharing your knowledge, skills, and interests. Read articles and regular columns ranging from scientific explanations to humor in everyday life. Check out our members’ photography, drawing, painting, knitting and quilting, and crafting skills.

What would you like to share? Do you have expertise in a particular field of study or hobby? Want to express your opinion? Have you traveled recently? Do you write poetry? Can you create word games, numerical puzzles, or trivia questions? What could you say about…well, you get the picture.

Mensagenda is another way that Minnesota Mensa provides “a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.” What could you contribute if you joined Mensa?


There’s More to Read

Mensa membership provides access to the publications from other chapters, American Mensa, and Mensa International. Click here to learn more.

Featured Cover Art

Crow River Rising

Crow River Rising. Photo by Scott in Dayton.


Featured Article

Impermanence by Cinda in Minneapolis.

In the fall of 1994, I saw a Bernardo Bertolucci film that surprised me with its gentleness and sense of quest: Little Buddha. This movie sent me back to my freshman year in college when I took a comparative religion class that provided an overview of Hinduism and Buddhism, among other world religions. My last two years in high school, I had completed an exploration of the Christian churches in my hometown in response to my father’s edict that I must attend a church every Sunday—part of a deal I struck with him so that he’d pay for school trips to New York City to see plays and musicals. My college freshman year, I was interested in learning about the variety of religious thought. I hadn’t paid much attention to the Buddhism section, but I had saved all the books from the course.

Bertolucci’s film made me curious about Buddhism and I reread all the books I had, bought more books, and discovered to my surprise that there was one Buddhist concept I found easy to understand: impermanence. Any Minnesotan lives impermanence day after day with the weather. Or I think of it this way—the only constant in the universe is change. Nothing stays the same. There is constant movement, constant change. This too shall pass. Buddhists let go of attachments with an understanding of their impermanence—attachments to wealth, to position or power, to property, to material things, to people.

I began to consider how impermanence could actually infuse human life. I startled myself with the thought that time itself is impermanent. Constantly moving forward, no two moments the same, every day bringing something new. Is time’s forward momentum permanent? Or is that only a human perception? I’ve read about the concept of simultaneous time in which each moment exists in the past, present, and future at the same time. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around, though. I find it easier to imagine parallel universes or dimensions. Or timelines. But if time is impermanent, then music must also be impermanent since it is based in time.

Certainly, no two live music performances, no matter the type of music, are the same. Once a musician reaches the end of a piece, it’s gone, the sound dissipating and fading away in the air. We remember the sound, and we can read the notes on paper that represent the sound, but the sound itself only exists in the moment of its creation. We learned how to record sound—voices, music—so that we could listen to them over and over. We tried to make them permanent, I suppose, to capture a particular voice or a particular musical performance forever. I think of Jacqueline du Pré’s debut concerto performance playing the Elgar Cello Concerto. She wowed the music world with that performance and subsequently made several recordings of it with different orchestras, each one a little different, of course. None of her subsequent performances ever really captured the excitement and energy and sound of her live debut performance.

Uncertainty accompanies change. It’s hard to live with uncertainty, but that is the norm for human life. Humans want certainty, the security of it, in the face of so much uncertainty. We want our world to be safe, to have enough to eat, to have shelter and clothing, to know that we are secure. Accepting impermanence means to accept the uncertainty, the truth that our world is not safe and never has been, and we have control over only ourselves, individually. Everything changes.

Meditation taught me that thoughts are impermanent as well. They come and go, staying only a while if they draw my attention. The goal in meditation is to let go of the thoughts when they appear. Like all writers, I capture my thoughts on paper or a computer screen, preserving them in fictional stories or essays, for others to read and provoke more thoughts. Or to provoke emotion and encourage a sense of connection. Language anchors thought, captures it like musical notation captures music, giving it some permanence.

Thought motivates behavior making human behavior unpredictable and ever-changing. We may believe that we can predict a friend’s or loved one’s behavior, but how many times have they surprised us? I have often surprised myself by not only what I think but also how I behave, often in situations in which I feel uncomfortable or uncertain. Years ago, not long after my father passed away, I went through a period when I was sarcastic with everyone about everything. For months, I couldn’t discern it. When I finally heard the sarcasm in my voice, I was shocked at how strange and different that tone was from my normal voice. It took another year for me to figure out the source of that sarcasm: my grief over my father’s passing and the uncertainty of life. Emotion motivates behavior contributing to its unpredictability.

Humans want to make sense of their experience of life, finding a measure of certainty in uncertainty, permanence in impermanence, patterns in chaos, purpose in coincidence, solutions in mysteries. I’ve returned over and over as I’ve been working on this essay to the impermanence of our weather, and how when it’s bad we can’t wait for it to change, and when it’s lovely we want it to go on forever. (Of course, my definition of lovely weather might be different from yours.) But the lesson of impermanence is that nothing lasts forever, not lovely weather, not a moment in time, not a live music performance, not certainty, and not a thought. But maybe this essay will because I’m writing it down for others to read and keep (if they so choose).