Mark Twain

I love a good quote. I find them full of insight, wisdom, humor, and inspiration. I look for quotes that have sense of purpose, that expand my mind to chambers I hadn’t visited in some time. I’m a big believer in the power of written word. A great quote can cause you to go weak in the knees or strengthen your resolve more than you ever thought possible. Of course, for a quote to carry a lot of clout, it normally must come from someone who has accomplished something significant in their lives. They are usually men and women that have truly lived, and are able to convey their experiences and wisdom into a complete, poignant thought.

Of all the quotes I have come across in my life, some of the most powerful came from one of my new heroes, the legendary Mark Twain. Twain, who’s real name was Samuel Clemens was one of the most prolific and profound writers in American history. He was an author, a poet, a business man, a steamboat captain, and an outspoken activist for civil rights across the globe. The more I learn about Twain, the more respect for him I have. Here was a man that was not afraid to TRY. He failed so many times in his life, and more often than not it brought him to the brink of death. Yet he never gave up, and he continued to experience new things. This is why I respect and revere his quotes more than most. He is speaking them from his own experience – not based on something he heard or read. He once said of writing about his experiences “when the tank runs dry, you’ve only to leave it alone, and it will fill up again in the time while you were asleep, also while you were at work on other things and are quite unaware that this unconscious and profitable cerebration is going on.”

I recently watched Ken Burn’s documentary on Twain. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth every minute of the 3 and 1/2 hours it runs. Take time to learn about a real American who lived a rich, full life. Listen to the words he spoke and wrote, and see if you don’t come away with a more profound sense of wisdom and understanding. Twain is a hero of mine because he was never afraid to keep trying new things – to live life unhindered and free. What an exhilarating feeling that must be. Twain said it better than I ever could:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Alex