Lessons on Freedom from the Extraordinary Benjamin Franklin

A few years ago I read Walter Isaacson’s biography of “Benjamin Franklin.” In the book*, Franklin impressed me as an amazing man who was unstoppable in pursuing every interest and project he ever dreamed up, from starting civic public works projects such as militias and post offices and an organized firefighter force, to scientific experiments on electricity, as well as running his own press, and being a much-need voice for compromise and moderation during the creation of the Constitution.

The overarching quality that I saw in Franklin was the complete freedom he gave himself, from a young age, to be, do, or have anything he wanted. With a sort of superhuman ease, he navigated through life fully engaged in anything and everything that struck his interest, without reservation, and with no loss of enthusiasm at any moment. With everything he did, and every where he went, he left behind a stream of new ideas, optimism, worthwhile projects, and improvements to the world around him that still impact us centuries later.

Benjamin Franklin was truly a larger-than-life celebrity of his age, a Renaissance man in the truest sense, and a great example of what it means to live a great life.

Now for the not-so-pretty personal confession. Honestly, while I was quite impressed by Franklin’s story, I often thought that his super-human confidence and seeming lack of fear was rather hard to relate to. In fact, I sometimes found the ease with which he charted new territory in any field of endeavor he was interested in kind of annoying!

Yet underneath the annoyance was the recognition that there is something for me to learn here. Over the past few years, Franklin’s example has lingered in the back of my mind. A month ago I wrote a post about the kind freedom Franklin showed, the freedom we are capable of giving ourselves to be, do, and have what we want in life. This is freedom I am expanding in myself, and it is the true purpose of this post.

I am asking myself now, what would my life be like if I gave myself even a fraction of the same freedom to explore my interests, to speak out on what mattered to me, and to pursue worthy projects and causes with unflinching confidence and enthusiasm? How can liberate my own inner Renaissance Man to new levels of expression, creativity, and freedom?

How can I make full use of your example and inspiration, Mr. Franklin, in living the life I’ve always dreamed of?

*Unfortunately, I do not currently have the book in my possession, and it is late at night, so time is limited for online research (!). Therefore, I am unable to give more specific details on Franklin’s many extraordinary accomplishments.

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