Folks have moved around since there were folks. Historians who spend their time pondering ancient peoples sometimes suggest that human beings have always been travelers. We like to go places. Especially now. You and I might live in the most mobile society ever.
My home is in a little town surrounded by a LOT of space. By “space” I mean relatively empty land. Well, I don’t really mean empty, because it’s full of fields and meadows that are full of productive plants and animals. But There’s not a lot of people per square mile. There are a lot of roads, though. Years ago I was told that no state has more roads per person than mine. I think this must still be true.
These roads–plus a vehicle, of course–make it easy to go places. Lately gas has been cheap. A round trip to the University campus in Fargo is about 300 miles. It costs me less than twenty dollars when I drive my little brown Mazda. Time costs me more. When I’m lucky I only have to drive over once per week. Three times when I’m not so lucky. Either way, the travel is easy. It’s not unpleasant, either. I like the scenery. I like the sunrises and sunsets. I see a lot of them. I like the sense of traveling through a land that looks sparse but isn’t. And I like thinking about the folks who’ve lived in this wide open part of the country.
I’d miss these roads and conveyances if they weren’t here. I doubt I’d even be here if not for highways and cars and fuel. Maybe nobody would be here.
“Tyranny of Distance” is a theme that runs through much of my region’s history. That tyranny is quite downgraded nowadays. I wouldn’t call it tyranny. Synonyms for tyranny don’t work either. The “cruelty” of distance?? Not really. The “despotism” of distance? Nah. The “severity” of distance? Possibly. “Unreasonableness” also comes up as a synonym for tyranny. That word resonates sometimes on pitch-black subzero 5:00 AM departures. But the sun always rises. Even when it hides behind a grey veil I always know it’s there.
Mobility has done a lot for us here in the sparse-looking lands. We have reason to be grateful for it.