Life’s Ebb And Flow

Thomas Powers reads Mark Twain’s autobiography. Twain’s response after hearing of a friend who died a violent death:

‘What was he born for?’ Twain asks silently at the dinner table. ‘What was his father born for? What was I born for? What is anybody born for?’ Twain does not answer these questions, just as he declined to show us the fate waiting for Huck and Jim down the river. But Twain’s late writings hammer out a harsh law of life, the thing he believed at the end. It comes down to this: life is in cruel balance, every good thing shall be taken away and missed until the final hour, the things that make life sweet are the things that make life hurt. Twain lays it out for anybody to see, but he will not say it.