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By J.R. Dalton
I was recently moved when I read the essay “Two Ways of Seeing a River” by Mark Twain. In it Twain gave an eloquent breakdown to all the beauty he saw on the Mississippi riverfront as a child. He noted how the simplest of things like the breaking of a wave in the wake of a steamboat looked or how a log floating downstream would completely grab hold of his curiosity and intrigue. By the second half of the essay, Twain digressed saying that he no longer saw the wonder or beauty on the river the way he used to, but that now he only saw each mark of Creation to be just a symptom of high tides and other deteriorations of nature. Twain concluded by saying that “the romance and beauty were all gone from the river.” He then gave a metaphor saying “I have pitied doctors from my heart,” “What does the lovely flush in a beauty's cheek mean to a doctor but a "break" that ripples above some deadly disease?” He began to wonder if this doctor had grown so intelligent in his education and occupation that he no longer saw freckles as beauty but as a natural deformity.
As a child, I ran and played outside all day. Every fall I’d climb into a pile of leaves to watch as one little ant would carry back food to his family. I followed the rolly-pollys and chased the squirrels through my backyard. I recall sitting in my grandmother’s lap and staring up at the flecks of gold and silver in her lavender eyes. There was so much wonder and beauty in my world as was in Twain’s. My question to you is, are you still captivated by the little things or have your jobs, worries, and responsibilities educated you so much that you have lost that passion for simple elegance? Is this the price of adulthood? Take some time this week to notice all of the wonderful things you were once curious about. Think about how those things changed you and never lose sight of what is truly beautiful in your life. 


  1. Nancy Blount

    December 9, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Good article! I think so many children these days miss out on that wonder and awareness when they are so caught up in electronic gadgets, constant texting, i-pods, t.v., etc. to the extreme. All these things are wonderful, useful inventions, but so often they seem to take over too much of the free time in children’s lives today. As a result, they miss out on all those simple, yet truly special times that can make them more aware of life and curious about the natural world and the intricacy and beauty in nature around them that can help them to develop in so many ways. Just by spending time outside curiously noticing and exploring the natural world around them, participating in sports activities even in just a casual way with siblings and neighbors, and interacting in an actual person to person manner rather than just texting, etc. to work together and use their imaginations to come up with wholesome, creative games, children are using and developing their brains and interpersonal skills in a much deeper and richer manner than what they would with an excess of electronic communication and electronic games and entertainment.
    As this article points out, we as adults can gain such a richness to our own lives and experiences by noticing and treasuring all those “little things” in the world around us and especially in those we are close to. The mental picture of the author of this article sitting on a grandmother’s lap as a child gazing up at her eyes and treasuring that memory is so powerful in such a simple way. Those are the simple, special times with family that add up so much over the long run! I really liked the last two sentences in this article. Good advice, indeed!

  2. J. R. Dalton

    December 9, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Thanks Nancy for your response to the article I wrote. There really is so much lacking in the world as far as inter-personal relationships and interactions. I’m actually a young person, and I realize that my generation and the one growing up right now is in desperate need of an awakening; to life, people, and ultimately a greater power. Mark Twain saw that need, and generations have passed while that need only becomes more prevalent. We can do alot to improve and we can start by making efforts to put down our cell phones and interact with one another.

    Again thank you Nancy,

    J. R. Dalton

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