How Would Benjamin Franklin Spend Today?

Benjamin Franklin was always improving himself. How will you choose to spend the next few minutes, hours, days or weeks? It’s your choice, make it a good one!

Can I tell you a secret? Even as a professional organizer, I am conflicted about Time. I help others with time management while puzzling it over myself. Is time arbitrary or fixed? Infinite or finite? Is my time mine to spend, or not mine at all? In each case, it is both.

Time is both arbitrary and fixed.

I recently read an article proposing the merits of waking with the sun instead of an alarm clock. The writer presented sound arguments, and it’s a lovely idea, but the concept is so ludicrous to my life that I laughed.  Before the time change, here in Chicago it was dark until 7:15 am. If we waited to wake to natural light, my husband would be fired and 2 of my sons would be habitually late for school.

With the time change, it is light again at 7 am but will be dark at 4:30. If I wake with natural light, does that mean I get to go to bed with natural dark?  Dinner time, good night?  The idea of letting the moon and sun and stars dictate when I get up or not is what rankles me.  The inconsistent nature of getting up if there is light in my window or not offends my sense of purpose.

The other night at dinner, my 12-year-old announced that “time is an illusion, thought up by the minds of men”. Yes, son, it’s an illusion to describe and give structure to the immense scope of the infinite. It is arbitrary, a completely human construct. But your bedtime is still 9:30, and you can’t be late for school.  Time is arbitrary, but the passage of it is fixed, measurable and manageable.  So go
do your homework.

Time is both infinite and finite.

On any given day, I can admire the concept of infinity and still struggle to find time to get things done. Go figure. If I run late, short of breaking the sound barrier in my minivan, there is no way to recapture the 5 minutes past. In the vast backdrop of the infinite, it seems ridiculous to worry about a minute or two, anyway.  On the other hand, as a musician, I respect the importance of even a moment’s hesitation.

I am working towards appreciating the gift of infinite time, instead of focusing on the finite restrictions of seconds and minutes.

Our time is both ours alone to spend, and not ours at all.

In my holiday planning class, I mention that our time is the only gift that is truly ours to give. Everything else is stuff. And yet, I also feel my time is on loan from everyone else, that I can’t claim any of it for my own. Did I mention that I was conflicted? Yeah, I know. So what is my point?

Our perception of time is determined by our choices of how we spend our time. What is the best way to spend the next hour? Exercise? Read to improve my mind, or relax? Help my son with his homework? Prepare for ministry, or a Cub Scouts meeting?  All are worthy and wonderful and necessary.  But because our to-do list is so long, most days we still have to choose between one worthy way of spending an hour and another.

Over the weekend, we discussed with friends The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Mr. Franklin listed 13 virtues he perpetually worked on, in addition to all the other amazing things he created and accomplished in his life.

Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues.

1.TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2.SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling
3.ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business
have its time.
4.RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5.FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
6.INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all
unnecessary actions.
7.SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8.JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your
9.MODERATION. – Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10.CLEANLINESS. – Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
11.TRANQUILLITY – Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12.CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness,
weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
13.HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

An impressive list, though I might swap out a few, adding my own, but I like the idea of Mr. Franklin choosing to continually improve himself in addition to getting married, having kids, running a business and oh, right, building our country.

So, how will you choose to spend the next few minutes, hours, days or weeks? It’s your choice, make it a good one!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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