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I’m here to talk about the good sort of tornado. A “tornado” is the sort of person who’s constantly active, moving about, energetically taking in everything around them.

Guitar Busking

Bring your kid a-busking. This woman is a tornado.


In spinning about so fast and with so much activity, they pull in everything around them. Nothing holds them back. They tend to elevate things they encounter. The ancient Greeks would have called them peripatetic: “Walking-around”.

And despite a tornado seeming like a force for destruction, the human variety actually can be seen as an all-purpose hyper-intense change agent. They make things happen–usually good things.

I met a few during my recent tour of Bisbee and San Diego, but the one in Bisbee stands out best. That’s probably because I remember such types from the part of my youth spent in small-mining-town Nevada, especially Searchlight. There’s a certain breed that feels the need to be productive and involved no matter where they end up living.

The one I have in mind is a bartender at the brewery in Bisbee. Making it work in a place that was once written off as a ghost town isn’t easy. I think I heard her rattle off four part-time jobs she’s working around town, in addition to organizing the annual Bisbee Pirate Day festival and raising a few kids on her own. I was reminded of people my mom and dad hired around small-town Nevada–ones who knew every detail of life in Goldfield or Tonopah or Winnemucca and what it took to survive there.

When they managed their small casino and bar in Searchlight, they were overjoyed when they could hire a local tornado. They could rarely find one. Most people they hired seemed to want to be paid just for showing up–and they sometimes didn’t even do that. Those were the ones who usually ended up on welfare — or in jail. Sometimes they got a lift from the Sheriff who took them to a spot a few miles outside of town and left them there.

But the tornadoes just kept moving.

Are you a tornado? If not, why not? What’s keeping you from being a tornado where you are living? Would it help if you lived in a small town, where the expectations of specialization weren’t so oppressive, and the cost of entry lower? Where people didn’t judge you based on your car or clothes, but on whether or not you knew where to get a serpentine belt for a ’99 SAAB that just overheated in the parking lot outside? Would it help you to know who the creeps are, and not to just get a hint from some online offender database?

Would it help to know people?

Try being a tornado today, wherever you live.