I wonder what it’s like to be written about so extensively each nuance of your life is seen as important. Every corner, every nook, every move you make sends a rattles the earth, like some giant stomping through the forest, the trees shivering with each step.

That seems like the effect Mark Twain had on the United States, but not with his feet, with his pen. Was there ever someone so in tune with his surroundings, so completely absorbed in this life that no item, no matter how infinitesimally small escaped his gaze? It was as though he had a special insight, a direct connection to God himself that allowed him to see the human condition as it was, flaws and all, and comment on it with such accuracy and aplomb as though a rapier was cutting through the soft tissue of the human heart.

We keep asking ourselves how he did it, searching for ways to duplicate his genius. There must have been some special insight that was gifted to him to understand the world around him in such a way that he could illuminate entirely without the lights being too bright causing us to scatter because of the din.

Gifted is the only word that comes to mind, gifted as a seer is blessed with the sight or a medium has bestowed up them the ability to speak with the next world. I don’t think it’s something that can be developed or worked into shape as one would pound a chunk of metal into a sword. No, this is manna from heaven, God touching a man and saying, “Here, my son, this gift of literature is yours, and here’s a healthy portion of human insight too. Use these gifts well.” 

It has to be that.

When he took off his hat it was cause celeb, and when he chose a house it was as though the Pied Piper himself was playing his flute for people would flock to see where he lived, discover what he ate, and wait with bated breath to see what his pen would produce. He delivered his verbal stories in as magical a way as he wrote, spellbinding audiences as he spun his experiences into lessons, captivating audiences all the way. His words were his paint brush and the United States his canvas. Truly, it was magic.

His life was not all a fairy tale, as God saw fit to temper his bounty with tragedy. Such, it seems, is the way of things; those gifted with immense talent are also laden with enormous weight to carry, and Mark Twain was no different. There’s a lesson there, someplace, I think. Are there ever gifts given with no price to pay? This also seems the eternal question, but better answered by each of us individually.

As I see it, Mark Twain lived his life as he saw fit, commented on what he deemed necessary, and realized before many of us do what it was he was supposed to do with the time granted him. I wonder how many of us truly know what we’re really here for, if anything. I’m convinced it’s for more than simply breathing, existing and being, and its different for every soul. For most of us, we’ve been gifted, by virtue of being born here, the opportunity to find out. How quickly we forget that fact sometimes. As Twain himself once said:

“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”