Come and settle beside me.
Though, truth be told, I don’t enjoy your company.
I wish you weren’t here, sticking around,
a reminder of old habit energies I long to not be haunted by.
I wish I could move on from being held in your presence.
I mean, part of me feels strongly about there being more pressing matters to tend to,
verses babysitting your tendencies, holding your hand.
Still, I’m trying.
I’m trying not to resent and regret the sight of you.
Trying not to get lost in feelings of shame.
And, goodness knows, it’s not easy.
This above snippet of verse is something I penned in my journal early this morning. I had set my alarm for 4:00am but awoke naturally at 3:00am. After a few minutes of attempting to get back to sleep, I decided it wasn’t happening and just got up.
I’ve been processing some internal static. Trying my best to befriend it, instead of what I want to do, which is to dropkick it far away, so that it lands somewhere out of sight and out of mind. Old habit energies, old patterns of thought and behavior have been sifting into my mind and heartscape as of late. It’s terribly uncomfortable. Though, I’m appreciating that it’s further teaching me the ways of humility: Ben Franklin’s 13th virtue.
Franklin’s list above, that he fashioned in 1726 when we has 20-years-old, is quite remarkable, considering his age.
Franklin wisely decided not to try to tackle all of the 13 virtues at once. Instead, he would concentrate on one at a time. Here’s the methodology that Franklin developed in order to attain mastery over the 13 virtues which he had selected:
- “I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues.”
- “I ruled each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day.”
- “I crossed these columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of the virtues, on which line, and in its proper column, I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.”
Franklin then proceeded to do the following:
- “I determined to give a week’s strict attention to each of the virtues successively.”
- “Thus, in the first week, my great guard was to avoid every the least offense against Temperance, leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the day.”
- “Thus, if in the first week I could keep my first line, marked T, clear of spots, I supposed the habit of that virtue so much strengthened, and its opposite weakened, that I might venture extending my attention to include the next, and for the following week keep both lines clear of spots.”
- “Proceeding thus to the last, I could go thro’ a course complete in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year.”
Franklin was one of the first people to recognize that recording your behavior helps you to change it.In fact,he turned self-development into a science by observing, monitoring, and measuring his behavior.
At the age of 79 Franklin wrote in his autobiography that he never did achieve his goal of attaining perfection. However, he did achieve the following:
“Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”
I am very inspired by Ben Franklin’s dedication to self-improvement and development of character. And it helps me to remember that everything is a practice. And every moment is a new beginning.