The spoken language is a herd/heard of wild mustangs, thundering through the mouths of millions of speakers who ride the nearest horse at hand. And because they’re wild, you see and hear fights breaking out between verbs and subjects who are never going to agree this side of Wichita, Texas, so you may as well get used to it. Wild horses don’t care if the verb and subject agree; in fact, it doesn’t take much to pit one against another as they rush through the air straight into your ear. Listen now and you’ll hear them stampeding by, saying, “My brother and his family from Illinois lives just down the street.” And if pronouns concern you, you may as well start wearing earplugs or walk around with your fingers in your ears because I guarantee some horse-whipping fool is going to tell you a secret and warn you not to tell anybody because it is “between you and I.”
The written language, on the other hand, is a corral of horses, tame or almost so, taught to let the writer/rider hogtie other people’s minds and hearts, just so the horse whisperer can win the rodeo, even if there’s only a few people in attendance. Once you fall in love with horses, you can’t do anything else. After you make a few of them eat out of your hand, they own you, and you spend the rest of your life lying in wait in cold canyons biding your time until some of those wild mustangs stop to eat; then you lasso as many as you can and take them home.
It’s a cold and lonely business, and it’s not always pretty. Their hooves are sharp and they can leave you bloodied, dirty, and discouraged. Not a few can jump any fence you can build. But sometimes, just sometimes, you pick yourself up from the ground for the one-hundredth time, ready to quit and swear off horses, but you don’t. You dust yourself off, climb back on, and the horse lets you stay. When that happens, nothing else matters. It’s just you and the horse, and you feel like you can ride forever.