Mark Twain: Author, Thinker, Tinker, Spy

Mark TwainI don’t know much about Mark Twain. Here are a few things I do know: what he looked like in his later years; he gave life to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn; he was very intelligent and witty and liked cats; and he is considered one of the greatest American authors. I probably even read Tom Sawyer at some point in my life, but it didn’t choose to linger in my mind. After a little research, I found out that he was probably an atheist. Sounds like someone I would have liked to have met.

The reason I even mention Twain is that I stumbled across this quote on Patrick McDonnell’s Mutts comics web site:

Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head.

Mark Twain’s summing up of reality wasn’t, in itself, a fresh insight. John Milton (another author whose works I’ve never read) had a similar view in Paradise Lost:

A mind not to be chang’d by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. 

Milton and Twain (along with thousands of other writers, artists, and philosophers throughout history) knew then what cognitive therapists know today: how you think can affect how you feel. Some people have the good fortune of living within minds caressed by calming breezes. Some poor souls suffer unpredictable, destructive gales. Others are oppressed by gloom and discouraging drizzle with intermittent sunshine.

Today I’m thinking gloom and feeling tired. Just posting to distract myself for a little while. I’d write it in a journal, but then I’d have to burn it someday. This way, if I die suddenly, there’s less for everyone to throw away. Just select all and delete.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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