Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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September 22nd, 1985

Reading Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography in high school had a profound effect on me. As a native Pennsylvanian who was an impressionable youngster during the Bicentennial celebration and took elementary-school field trips to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, I found it easy to elevate him to the status of a teacher I'd actually be willing to heed. Sadly, nobody told me to look for the irony in his self-presentation. For a time, I dutifully sought to copy what I took to be his methods for self-improvement. I was especially impressed with his lists:

To be fair to myself, this particular period in my youth was one in which my list-keeping bore edible fruit. I got more done during the first trimester of my senior year than in the previous five years combined. Of course, I was also popping far too many No-Doz and engaging in self-marginalizing behavior such as letting one sleeve of my jacket hang limp. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.
Tags: archive, autobiography
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