“By the Mark—Twain!”*

Although the final destination is well know, I had no charts to guide me as I pushed my little raft into the current of my life. I didn’t need the stars except as marvels to contemplate and stir imagination. Each bend and twist, half-submerged relic lurking beneath muddy waters, or becalming pool brought new adventure. Long years granted me the joys and tribulations of companionship on my swirling, slap-dash craft, and occasionally I put in to shore to see what that might bring. Like Huck and Jim, however, too often a sojourn among landlocked laborers was tragic and dispiriting, and only solitary or companionable meanderings truly brought peace and contemplation.

When the raft broke apart on unexpected rocks, I almost drowned. It is my nature, however, to hold my head above the water, especially when others have been cast into the tempest with me and look to me for their salvation. We drifted along a while, holding to one another like welded jetsam. I found another raft, or I should say built another from the scattered pieces of the old one I discovered turning idly along the shore. I bound them together with old cords and a few new twists of stronger fiber unexpectedly discovered in my pockets. We are a flotilla now, linked together by ties that stretch but bind. I may be ahead of most of those who follow a similar stream, but we enjoy singing to one another across the channel in both the darkness and the light.

At times the current is swift and sure, forced to flow between banks both artificial and natural. Sometimes, though, it is still the old, cantankerous, swollen flood, sweeping out beyond low banks to inundate the fertile plains and carry along unsuspecting bystanders and pull them to the ever-moving middle. Now and again I am able to handle the oar sweep and give some guidance to my route—missing at times one of those treacherous shoals or skulking disasters—despite the inevitable path.

One thing I have tried to keep as constant: pay attention. Oh, and welcome aboard any enthusiastic companion.

*NOTE: “Mark Twain” was the leadsman’s cry on Mississippi riverboats to indicate to the pilot that the water was two fathoms deep—12 feet. This meant the depth was sufficient for the boat, but any less than that was too shallow. It is a demarcation between safety and danger. Samuel Clemens took this as his penname. Personally, I need to remind you who read these ramblings that I tend to experiment with metaphor and description. All writers tend to write from personal experience, but that doesn’t make their works autobiographical. Beware reading personal revelations into fiction. What do the words evoke for YOU?

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One Response to “By the Mark—Twain!”*

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