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How To Keep Growing Up

The business of growing up is something we normally think comes to a close when we get
to 16 or so – and finally turn into those fully finished products: adults. Up until
就算到那时 成长依然蕴含着很多奥妙
then, our growth is the subject of quite a lot of collective fascination. Twentieth-century
二十世纪的心理学以瑞士临床医生 Jean Piaget的研究为起点
psychology, beginning with the work of the Swiss clinician Jean Piaget, pioneered an
approach to child development that meticulously identified and labelled every principal stage
An average infant might go through on the developmental journey of its earliest years.
得益于他的研究 我们知道一个六个月大的孩子就能自己坐起来
Thanks to this work, we now know that at six months, a child will be able to sit up on
its own, pick up a small object (such as a raisin) using a thumb and forefinger and recognise
通过镜子认出自己的模样 尽管他可能还需要三个月
its own image in a mirror, though it will most likely take another three months before
才能自己喝水和听懂简单的指令 到了两岁
it can drink from a cup on its own and understand simple requests. By two, it will start to
他就会说”我” “你”这样的词 甚至还能自己戴帽子
say ‘I’ and ‘you’ and it will probably be able to put on a hat by itself. Around
四岁左右 他就能使用短句 创造出一个想象中的朋友
four, one can expect it to use sentences several words long and quite possibly invent an imaginary
friend (an achievement that belongs to what Piaget called the Symbolic Function Substage).
四岁到七岁时 孩子开始接受一些抽象的概念 例如时间
Between the ages of four and seven, children begin to grasp abstract concepts like ‘time’
和国家 同时在遇到”少于” “多于”这样的概念时还是会犯错是这一阶段的特性
and ‘a country’ but typically make mistakes around the use of ‘less than’ and ‘more
父母 叔叔婶婶还有爷爷奶奶都十分关注小孩的这些成长阶段
than’. Parents, uncles, aunts and grand-parents tend to be deeply interested in these developmental
这些都会成为家庭常谈 然而到了16岁之后
milestones – which become the stuff of family legend. However, after about 16, the attention
society pays to the maturation of an individual becomes ever more coarsely grained. The focus
关注点转到外部和物质层面: 比如在学业上表现怎样
shifts to external, material matters: we track what someone gets in their university degree,
从事什么工作 在公司里处于什么地位
what job they secure and how they progress up the corporate hierarchy. Growing up becomes
关注点从成长变成成功 但事实上 我们一直不缺乏精神上的成长
synonymous with getting ahead. Yet, in truth, we never stop having opportunities to grow
而不仅是在有形的物质层面 或许在19到21岁时
in an emotional – rather than material or physical way. Perhaps between the ages of
很少会有人注意到 我们可能会以激进的方式重新思考
19 and 21, without anyone really focusing on this happening, we may radically rethink
该怎么面对父母的缺点 23岁时 我们对嫉妒的看法变得截然不同
our view of how to handle our parents’ shortcomings. Or our view of envy takes a leap forward in
又或者在当快33岁时 一早躺在旅馆的床上
the middle of our 23rd year. Or, as we approach 33, lying in bed early one morning in a hotel,
我们会去想谁该为某个感情问题负责 我们的想法也许或多或少相类似
we amend our sense of who is to blame in certain relationship difficulties. We may look more or
但在心里 这些慢慢发生的没有预兆的成长变化一直在进行
less the same, but inside, slow, unheralded moments of emotional growth can be going on.
不幸的是 我们少了孩童时期那种具体清晰的阶段
Unfortunately, we have nothing like the clear, detailed stages to measure ourselves against
that babies and young children enjoy – and that might give us the encouragement we would
并促进我们成长的 但是每个成年人一生中都有
need to note and foster stages of growth. Yet, every adult life contains the potential
学会新的情感技能的可能 每个人有自己的方式
to acquire new emotional skills, each in its own way as significant as a child mastering a
就像小孩也会学说一些新奇的话(比如英语中的”I thought “而不是”I thinked “)
quirk of language (in English, for instance, saying ‘I thought rather than I thinked’)
或学骑自行车 情感的成长要经过这些步骤:
or learning to ride a bicycle. To develop emotionally involves a range of steps: learning
学会理解同情他人 学会合理看待他人童年对其造成的影响
to understand and sympathise with oneself; to take proper stock of one’s childhood
学会在适当的时候指出别人的不足 学会体会别人
influences; to communicate flaws and eccentricities to others in good time, to interpret others
的言外之意 学会认清现实的残酷
beyond what they have directly said to us, to recognise the hard edges of reality without
而不是被它摧毁 学会帮助和安慰他人
being destroyed by them, to accept one’s needs for consolation and assistance, to achieve
学会自信 学会绝望时仍热爱生命
a necessary degree of confidence, to know how to despair without wholly giving up on
我们可以想象把内心的成长画成群岛 通过成长路线分别予以标记
existence… We can imagine plotting the inner journey like islands, each one of them marked
by settlements, which we should take the trouble systematically to work our way around, as
因为我们可能会经过意大利文艺复兴时期的意大利 也可能欣赏到太平洋公路上的美丽景点
we might the cities of Renaissance Italy, or the beauty spots on the Pacific Highway.
然后我们会兴奋地告诉朋友 说自己学会了情感转化
We’d tell our friends excitedly that we’d learnt about Emotional Translation or had
或有效沟通 当学会了痛并快乐着 我们可以开个派对
achieved excellent grades in Communication. We might throw a party when we’d learnt
尽管存在着一些令人误解的表像 但是
how to do Cheerful Despair. Despite misleading external signs, we aren’t, in fact, ever
我们从未终止做这件棘手但意义重大的事: 成为一个精神成熟的人
done with the tricky business of becoming that hugely important thing: an emotionally
或者换句简单点的说法 一个真正的成年人
mature person or, to put it another, simpler way, a real grown-up.
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