Happily, Mark Twain is alive and well. Though dead for more than 100 years, his voice continues to jump off the page. Some quote will make me laugh out loud and I swear, 99% of the time…it’s a Twainism!
Maybe it was my first field trip in 5th grade to his home in Hartford, Connecticut that laid this track of connection in my spirit. I remember the brick house, the big porch, the dark interiors and the sad tragedies of his children’s deaths. Something about Halley’s Comet and of course, the great American novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which I have never read….but absolutely plan on doing before I expire!).
This morning, unexpectedly, I read something he wrote, “I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.” Wow, that statement seems downright anti-American! Post-election exhaustion and all the stupefying “answers” that aren’t answers have left me rhetorically exhausted. Part of trusting a speaker is believing them. When speakers have an answer for every conceivable question, and especially when they evade a question but pretend to answer it, I lose all patience and trust. Can speakers ever admit to not knowing? What is the terrible consequence? I, for one, would like to see more humility from presenters, as the veneer of know-it-all-ism is exhausting.
So, take a break, find an antidote in humor. I recommend Mark Twain: clear, sharp, cynical, human. Here are a few of my favorites:
“It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”
Additionally, enjoy this 108-second film Mark Twain by Thomas Edison shot in 1909 by Thomas Edison. Twain was almost 75 years old and just a year before his death (he went out as he came in, with Halley’s Comet!). Notice his Charlie Chaplin gait. Thank you Mark Twain, once again, without saying a word, you have brightened my day.