Thanks to the blog Get Rich Slowly, I was reminded that today is Benjamin Franklin’s 303rd birthday. Here’s the link to the article: Get Rich Slowly
Within the article is a link to Benjamin Franklin’s “Way to Wealth” (here: Way to Wealth), which contains many of Ben’s most famous phrases. In it, a man quotes Poor Richard and then lectures at length beginning thus:
It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth
part of their time, to be employed in its service. But idleness taxes many of us
much more, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute sloth, or doing of nothing,
with that which is spent in idle employments or amusements, that amount to
He then goes on using rhyme and humor to warn of the perils of idleness and debt. However, this is not all doom and gloom. I actually found myself laughing out loud at the wit of this tricentarian even while he was filling me full of dread at my personal inadequacies.
And what does this have to do with singing? I’ll tell you.
I do not believe in the myth of the “overnight success”. I believe that the myth corresponds to a moment when the stars, perhaps, do momentarily align, however, they align for someone who has spent a great deal of time preparing for that moment. As Ben points out:
‘Tis true there is much to be done, and perhaps you are weak handed, but stick to it steadily, and you will
see great effects, for constant dropping wears away stones, and by diligence and
patience the mouse ate in two the cable; and little strokes fell great oaks, as Poor
Richard says in his almanac, the year I cannot just now remember.
Thus, we as singers must take care to make some small stride every day. And there is no shortage of work to be done! We can:
- Listen to new rep
- Practice our languages
- Practice more
- Eat well
- Prepare for the future financially
- Keep in touch with our friends
- Make new friends
- Check out our local arts scene
- Learn how to dance
- Look up audition dates and requirements
- Practice more
- And on and on…
And if this is daunting, Ben replies:
Methinks I hear some of you say, must a man afford himself no leisure? I will
tell thee, my friend, what Poor Richard says, employ thy time well if thou
meanest to gain leisure; and, since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour. Leisure is time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never; so that, as Poor Richard says, a life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things.
Also, remember that singing is fun and feels good. Ben seems to think that one’s trade ought to be something one enjoys, and I agree.
PS. Much of his article is also devoted to debt, the avoidance of it, and the perils of it, and I will not go into that much now but save my thoughts on it for a future post. Needless to say though, debt is never a good option, especially for those of us who may always be on a financial tightrope.