6 Oct 2012
My father was not what you would call a literate person. Apart from the Bible, he did not read much of anything else on a regular basis. I can remember as a young person him quoting a great American patriot, Benjamin Franklin. The only quote he knew of this man was, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
For a long time I thought he was making it up and then one day, I happened to run across a book in the library about Benjamin Franklin and, there it was. Benjamin actually did say that.
I had to give my father that one.
It seems that every time it got close to what my father termed as “my bedtime,” he would remind me of this famous quote. It got so I hated when bedtime came.
At the time, I had my doubts about the validity of this quote because if my father followed this quote as he encouraged me to do, why was he not healthy, wealthy and wise? At the time, I was in no position to question his wisdom. I was wise enough to know that the best part of wisdom was not to challenge the wisdom of my father. This has attributed to my length of life to date.
Incidentally, I have carried this over into my married life.
According to my father, if I simply obeyed Franklin’s advice I would have a life filled with health, wealth and wisdom. The three things absolutely needed in life to make a person happy. Or, so Franklin would lead us to believe.
After what seems to be a lifetime of living, and living in as much harmony of these two aspects of life, I must say that there is very little truth to be said concerning good old Franklin’s saying. No matter how early I go to bed or how early I get up, I do not seem to be any wealthier or healthier. Perhaps, and this is only a guess on my part because I am not as wise as old Benjamin Franklin, you had to do something when you got up that contributed or created your wealth. Just a suggestion from me.
That is the way it is with most sayings. They sound good; you sound wise in quoting them; but after every saying is quoted, nothing seems to change. They just do not cover the whole spectrum.
It is not that I have not given it the good old college try; it just does not work for me.
This past week I had an occasion to think about this quote. I have tried keeping the early to bed and early to rise objective in full focus throughout my life. I am not up partying until the wee hours of the morning. At my age, my party time is early afternoon.
I have made a concerted effort to get enough rest and just to make sure I have enough rest I indulge in an afternoon nap. I am not sure where this comes in Benjamin Franklin’s quote.
Recently, I had cause to reflect upon the validity of Benjamin Franklin’s sage advice.
My quarterly taxes were due, and you know what good old Uncle Sam thinks about being late on his payments. If confession is good for the soul (another famous quote), I need to confess that while I was writing this check to Uncle Sam I had some rather harsh thoughts about him in the process. There, I said it.
During the same week, some other bills were due and none of them would take no for an answer. Again, I must confess, while writing these checks I was sputtering to myself quite a bit. As I looked at my checkbook, I knew that the “wealthy” component of Benjamin Franklin’s quote did not come in my direction. I was simply out of wealth.
Not only that, but I recently spent about four weeks sick with bronchitis and pneumonia and spent about three weeks in bed. Not only was I early to bed, but I was glued to my bed. How does that fit into Franklin’s saying? The “healthy” aspect of that quote has not fallen in my direction either.
If you want to know about the wise element, simply query the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.
Another old phrase says, three strikes and you’re out. Well, according to the Franklin saying, I must concede that I am out. I am not wealthy, in many regards I’m not healthy and for sure, I’m not wise.
It is my opinion that there is a lot more to life than wise old sayings from some old man from the past. Benjamin Franklin, for example, no doubt practiced early to bed and early to rise but in the end, he died. That does not sound too healthy to me.
Of course, the best place for wisdom is the Bible. I like what the wisest man in the world said, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV).
I am not too sure about the healthy and the wealthy components, that is up for grabs, but I am convinced the wise part comes from the Lord. After all, the Bible teaches us that God is Omniscient. If God knows everything and I know God, I am in a good position.