There are two kinds of people in the world: those who get out of bed when they wake up, and those who don’t. Ben Franklin loved mornings. Perhaps his most oft-quoted aphorism applies: EARLY TO BED AND EARLY TO RISE, MAKES A MAN HEALTHY, WEALTHY, AND WISE. Well, perhaps not all three these days, but you get the point. Who wants to stay in bed when there’s a world out there, waiting to be enjoyed? Franklin had another bon mot for that: LOST TIME IS NEVER FOUND AGAIN. He practiced what he preached. Benjamin Franklin accomplished so many things that Steve Jobs would look like an underachiever next to him. Perhaps you’ve heard that he invented bifocals. But he also brought us the lightning rod, swim fins, and the flexible urinary catheter.
When one starts out late, one plays catch up all day. What did Franklin say about that? He said: HE THAT RISETH LATE, MUST TROT ALL DAY, AND SHALL SCARCE OVERTAKE HIS BUSINESS AT NIGHT. But don’t be fooled into thinking that being up and busy means things are being accomplished. Some people spin like tops and get nowhere. Get organized and work smart otherwise you are wasting your time and the time of those interacting with you. The more your work impacts others at work, the more crucial it is that you manage your time wisely. Franklin knew this as a printer and newspaperman.
Sometimes it seems as if the mornings, when one is fresh and most eager to get after it, are the most productive time of one’s day. THE MUSES LOVE THE MORNING, Franklin said. Whether one is wielding a saw, pounding a computer keyboard, or delivering the goods, the beginning of one’s day always offers the prime time to be productive and at one’s best. Even when traveling, Franklin made productive use of his time. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean many times and mapped the Gulf Stream in the process.
Life – and opportunity – passes one by when one sleeps late. You always have the weekend for that sort of lying about, although I suspect Ben Franklin didn’t do weekends. He had too much going on in his life. THE SLEEPING FOX, he once said, CATCHES NO POULTRY. UP! UP! This accomplished 18th Century American was always up, it would seem. He invented a musical instrument he called the glass armonica. He also gave us the odometer and the “long arm,” a devise for reaching books on high shelves.
Franklin is sometimes incorrectly credited with inventing daylight savings time. But in line with his passion for taking advantage of every minute of his waking day, he once satirically wrote, for the benefit of late sleepers, that he’d discovered the sun actually begins shining as soon as it rises, a fact they presumably would not know. He mockingly proposed taxing people who kept their shutters closed, and ringing bells every morning at sunup to force folks to adjust their days according to the availability of sunlight. Daylight savings time, to Franklin, simply meant taking advantage of the existing daytime.
DOES THOU LOVE LIFE? Ben Franklin asked. THEN DO NOT SQUANDER TIME, FOR THAT’S THE STUFF LIFE IS MADE OF. With a mere 24 hours in each day, he had no occasion for wasteful pursuits. When he got older and became involved in the contemporary political scene, he contributed significantly to the creation of the Declaration of Independence. Keeping busy was good for him, as he lived to the ripe old age of 84. He never allowed even the coldest winters to slow him down. Who do you think invented the Franklin stove?
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