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17

a unicycle built for two

(first published here 4/16/2013)

Before you go running off romanticizing it, let me be clear on my thoughts about love. It is neither inherently good nor bad. It just is. Like a tornado. Powerful and beautiful to observe at a distance but you can never delude yourself into thinking that it feels anything particular about where it touches down or how long it lasts. After it’s over one person may end up with an interesting sculpture of twisted metal deposited on their front lawn and another may be inside that interesting sculpture because that sculpture is what happens to be left of their mobile home.

Settle   set·tle    /ˈsetl/   To discontinue moving and come to rest in one place.

Why do I mention this? Because I’m going to be talking about settlers and the first thing that comes to mind when I think about settlers is them traipsing over the Great Plains and the first thing I think about when I think about the Great Plains are tornados. They seem to be forever making themselves quite at home there.

Settle   set·tle    /ˈsetl/   To establish residence in; colonize.

I always found the term settlers a bit confusing given the fact that the people who moved west and staked claims traveled long distances and, in many cases, endured great hardships. Just seems like they would have earned a better moniker. Adventurers perhaps. There is nothing about the word settler that seems to indicate risk.

Settle   set·tle    /ˈsetl/   To become calm or composed.

The people who stayed where they were in the east were the real settlers if you ask me. Or maybe settleders would be a better description. I’m not discounting the risks they may have had in their lives and there is every reason to believe that they were just as heroic and noble as the people who decided to head off into the west to start new lives … but there is no way to get around the fact that they stayed put.

Pioneers. There you go. Much better. There is something can-do about the word pioneers.

Statistically speaking not a lot of the settleders ever saw a tornado. I’m sure they heard a lot about them as the first pioneers started to make their way across the Great Plains though. Probably not a lot of good things either. Headlines screaming “Family of 6 killed by giant wind funnel thingy” I’d imagine. They would have had to read a long way into the story to hear about the wind funnel thingy looking awes-inspiring and majestic as it tore ass across the flat grasslands as described by the other family that wasn’t killed because they were a safe distance away. That is if the paper even included their observation.

They might have even kept that quote to themselves given the fact that included in that majestic funnel they saw was a wagon filled with six other former-pioneers. Blood and broken bones that eventually settled into that very same grassland. Would it be fair to say then that the observers of the tornado ended up pioneers while their unfortunate colleagues ended up true settlers?

The settleders in the east would never hear the roar of a tornado as it crept down from the dark clouds and began its deadly dance. Feel the tingle of fear and wind on their face.

Settle   set·tle    /ˈsetl/   To accept in spite of incomplete satisfaction.

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