When he wrote Life on the Mississippi in 1876, Mark Twain was not an old man. At the age of 41, he was not even fully mature.`But his memoir of his days on the Mississippi as a river boat captain were the musings of one who knew life. Someone who, in his own words, had "mastered the language of the water [the Mississippi] and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet..."
Age brings both wisdom and sadness. A sadness that professionalism eliminates a youthful sense of wonder at the newness of the world and all its mysteries. For Mark Twain the grace, beauty, and poetry of the river became currents, depths and weather. And his loss was the loss of marveling at sunset at seeing colors of sun and water - reflections, golden hues turning red, sparkling eddies dancing like so many ballerinas, waves fanning out in radiating lines and circles. With time and knowledge, sun and water become a banal sign there would be wind tomorrow.
Twain wondered, as I often have, whether we who learn a trade gain or lose more in the bargain. Love which in its youth is a burning flame becomes a faint and dying ember.