What Ben Franklin Inspired in Me

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of.”

I’ve been meaning to write these days, form regular habits and follow through more consistently on telling stories that lie embedded somewhere between my conscious and unconscious mind. It is getting it out that I am having problems. Not from writer’s block, but from a bad case of procrastination.

By happenstance, I was reminded to get into action when I was preparing a lesson in colonial history and came upon the writings of Ben Franklin and his sayings from Poor Richard's Almanack, a compilation of weather forecasts, practical household hints, puzzles, and other amusements. 

One quote I read slapped me in the face, woke me up and prompted me to get going. “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.

Words quickly dissipate if you don’t get them down and thoughts evaporate, moving to and fro in an endless stream. Where they end up, God only knows. Therefore I advise to make time to get them down, if not for posterity, for yourself.

The eventuality of death is one compelling reason. I read the NY Times obits on many occasions and am saddened by the passing of familiar names - personalities, celebrities, heroes, people that made a difference and contributed something of significance in their chosen fields.

We are all measuring time against the fate of others who depart from this world, famous or otherwise. Middle aged and in my prime, although I believe there is plenty ahead and roads yet discovered, much to look forward to and places to go, Franklin warns: “Time enough proves to be little enough.”

Thus, I hasten my footsteps, growing bolder in the face of another Franklin admonition: "There will be plenty of time for sleeping in the grave.”

I get up early and go to bed early and feel the wiser and healthier for it, yet I’m still 'hoping' on the wealth part to materialize. Again, Franklin is there to instruct: “He who lives on hope dies fasting.”

No matter. I’m rich with other blessings, like discovering the gift of knowledge and its endless supply. I have the ability, time and tools to explore many subjects, my eyes crystallized with burning desire from years of insatiable curiosity and from my own insecure feelings that I know nothing.

So what is it that I have that is worth writing?

Maybe, that a little wisdom stokes the fire of my imagination, becoming the seed of something greater.

As I plan on traveling, where I know not, in my imagination or otherwise, with Darwin to the Galapagos or Columbus to the Caribbean, whatever my circumstances permit and choices dictate, I’m reassured that these special places (and other innumerous topics) will give something meaningful to write and maybe even prolong my days.

Thank you Ben for your wisdom and inspiration.  It’s time to get writing.

And to get living, before it’s too late.