Every year as we approach Ben Franklin’s birthday on Sunday, January 17th,  I read the Papers of Benjamin Franklin – published by Yale University Press – for what he wrote 253 years ago. 

I go back this number of years as it is the year that he was the same age as I am. I do it early in the year as January 17th is Dr. Franklin’s birthday. It’s also my 62nd birthday and the birthday of my grandmother Hazel and my step sister Janet.   

Note the capitalization in his quotes below – in the middle of sentences – was as Franklin wrote. 

Advice from 1768 – Keep Exploring

As the editor William Willcox writes in the introduction to the 1768 edition, “In his political world almost nothing happened that was to Franklin’s liking.  In his intellectual world he and his associates were enthusiastically asking questions and probing mysteries, with a gusto unfettered by wrong answer and dead ends: they were alive with the spirit of inquiry.” 

Among his interests during the year were encouraging Dr. William Watson’s application of disciplined science on Smallpox Inoculation  – exploring the Gulf Stream, revising the Lord’s Prayer and creating a phonetic alphabet.  

Advice from 1768 – Live and Enjoy THIS MOMENT

On April 16th he wrote to his wife Deborah on his age and aging.  “Amidst all the sickness and misfortunes to our friends what reason have you an I to bless God, that we at these years enjoy with our children so great a Share of health and so much happiness in other respects.  Let us be thankful of what is past and present and not presume too much on a continuance of the same felicity for the future.  

Later that year he also wrote, “I know that according to the Course of Nature that the living even of another Day is uncertain. I therefore now form no Scheme but such as are of immediate Execution. “

Advice from 1768 – Enjoy the Bracing Rejuvenation of Nudity

Franklin believed that the body was revived by a cold shock.  He felt a cold bath was too violent.  So he turned to a different approach as he wrote “I have found it much more agreeable to bathe in another element, I mean cold air. With this view I rise early almost every morning, and sit in my chamber, without any clothes whatever, hall and hour or an hour according to the season, either reading or writing.  This practice is not in the least painful, but on the contrary, agreeable. I call this a bracing or tonic bath.”   

As we travel the adventure of 2021 – Keep Exploring and Live in the Moment.  I’ll leave the cold air nudity to an option :).

Happy Birthday Ben, Hazel, Janet, Michelle Obama , Mohammad Ali, Jim Carey, Andy Kaufman, Al Capone, Betty White, James Earl Jones, Mick Taylor, Kid Rock and the many others born on January 17th .