Sunday, January 17, 2010

The magic of Samuel Clemens

I go through stages where I become engrossed in one or two authors or poets, and tend to use many of their quotes as points of inspiration for blogs, or just to throw out on my Facebook and Twitter posts to share with friends.  One of my lifelong favorite authors has always been Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), he of Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer fame.  All American school children read at least one of his works at some point in their primary educational years.  I went steps further and began to learn more about Samuel Clemens, the man, and find that after a lifetime of learning about him, I continue to uncover new, interesting details. 

The most entertaining thing about Mr. Clemens and his alter ego, Mark Twain, is the sheer volume of witticisms that exist and are attributed to him.  His sense of humor leaned decidedly towards the dry, sarcastic, deprecating observations of life.  Whenever I feel in need of something to lighten my spirits, I almost always turn to my journals of quotes that I have written over a lifetime, and a large number of those recorded quotes are from Mark Twain.  He always makes me laugh, and many times makes it clear that regardless of the times in which he lived, his quotes could easily apply to this modern age.

“Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.”

“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

“There is a good side and a bad side to most people, and in accordance with your own character and disposition you will bring out one of them and the other will remain a sealed book to you.”

"I'm glad I did it, partly because it was worth it, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again."

“Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.”'

“Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

“It's spring fever.... You don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
Those are just a few of the quotes I have copied down over the years that Mr. Clemens shared with the world.  His point of view, sometimes lighthearted, other times harsh and condemning, always has the power to make me laugh, or to stop and ponder.  He lived a life that was full of excitement, travel, success, failure and many tragic moments - he lost three children and outlived his beloved wife.  He was known to have poor judgment in business investments and was always one step ahead of financial distaster throughout most of his adult life.  Fortunately for us, he was a prolific writer throughout his lifetime, toured the world on a highly publicized lecture tour and was often quoted.  We are the benefactors today of all of his efforts. (The Mark Twain House website)

I remain an appreciative audience of Mr. Clemens/Mark Twain simply because he has always provided me with small moments of genuine laughter.  I value those moments so much, and love to share them with others.  Life isn't always meant to focus on the somber, ponderous, grave topics - we have those aplenty.  Therefore, why not take little snippets of time to stop, be carefree and page through books of thoughts such as the ones above and a few more that I couldn't resist sharing...

“I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.”

“I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said, 'I don't know.'"

“We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened.”

“Yes, even I am dishonest. Not in many ways, but in some. Forty-one I think it is.”

“I have seen slower people than I am and more deliberate... and even quieter, and more listless, and lazier people than I am. But they were dead.”

“I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself.”

I am thoroughly charmed, teased into laughter on days that I might be feeling sluggish and run down, and quite often wind up belly laughing at some of this man's thoughts.  I think, had I been given the chance, that I might have enjoyed talking with him face to face.  His words remind me that life is meant to be enjoyed, that the oftentimes bizarre or even frustrating days that are handed to us also offer humor, if we care to look for it.  I will continue to be a fan and student of Mr. Clemens' works for the rest of my life, and no doubt, if you're connected to me on social media forums such as Facebook and Twitter, you'll see me posting quotes of Mark Twain fairly often. 

I simply felt like writing a blog that didn't have a deeply meaningful, socially constructive theme to it.  Rather, I wanted to concentrate on the simple act of embracing little things that make me smile.  Mark Twain's quotes fall into that category, and as such, I leave you with one final thought:

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” 


  1. I was wondering why so many of your facebook statuses have been Mark Twain quotes lately! Now I know. :)

    I love Mark Twain. He's so quotable, and his stuff is applicable to practically every aspect of life - especially the aspects that matter most.

  2. Yep, I get on these jags where I devour anything I can find about a particular author. I've loved Mark Twain my whole life.

    You'll also see me posting quotes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Butler Yeats. Yeats' work...oh, my word...he just fills my heart to overflowing with the smallest snippet of prose! These three men seem to speak to me the most, in very differing ways.

    I've been meaning to write this piece about Mark Twain for months now, and am glad I got around to doing it. I don't feel I did him justice, but at least it gave me the opportunity to post several more of my favorite quotes of his!

    ~ Dawn

  3. I love Twain & do quotes from him quite often on twitter. He has such a wonderful dry sense of humor & he loves to make fun of himself as well (a great lesson for all of us....don't take yourself to seriously!).

    Thanks for the fun.



  4. I love Mark Twain. I love quotes. Now this one, made me laugh!

    “I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.”

    Just love that humor. I needed the laugh this morning, Dawn. It's Monday, and they are few and far between.

  5. I love sarcastic humor so Mr. Twain is right up my alley. I need a ray of sunshine this morning - thanks!


  6. Happy Monday to you all! I'm not too surprised that Mark Twain is an equal favorite for many.

    Bill, you made a valid comment on not taking yourself too seriously - I think that's where a lot of dissatisfaction is born in many people. Life is short, so lighten up a wee! If you're having trouble figuring out the first step to doing that (not you...the "you" in general), then read a few Mark Twain quotes and you'll get a good feel for it!

    Marty, the duel quote is one that has always made me laugh out loud. Glad it tickled your funny bone as well. It's so reasonable and ridiculous at the same time that I cannot resist laughing whenever I run across the quote!

    Marie, I loved the "ray of sunshine" comment you left - that's one of my absolute favorite comment posts that's been left on my page to date! Happy to oblige.

    Everyone, stay tuned for plenty more Mark Twain...he's just too good to resist!

    ~ Dawn

  7. i heart twain. and also, that so many of your peeps are on twitter. dawn, please make a place (blog) for everyone to post them??? pretty please with sugar on top? (i'm a twitter fiend!)

  8. B, give me a call (or email) w/ more deets on what you're wanting w/ this?? It sounds like a great idea, and I may be able to con my very awesome blogging partner into helping me set up a separate page here on Healing Morning for quotes. Email me or call me, chica and we'll get it figured out!

    ~ Dee