There are people we are friends with for one major but often maligned or overlooked reason.
Because we were friends with them some time ago.
At one stage, it might be decades ago now, we had a lot in common.
我们都擅长数学 但法语成绩很烂 都喜欢打乒乓球
We were both good at math, but bad at French at school, and had shared liking for table tennis;
or we had adjacent rooms at college,
used to help each other with assignments,
在约会失败或父母令人抓狂的时候 在酒吧借酒消愁 互相安慰
and commiserate in the bar about failed dates or maddening parents;
or maybe we were interns in the same big firm,
with the same as we thought at the time bizarre and intemperate boss.
But life has taken us on radically different courses.
Now they’ve got three young children.
They moved to the Orkneys, where they’re managing a fish farm;
or they’ve gone into politics and have become a junior minister;
or they’re working as a ski teacher in the Rocky Mountains.
The daily realities of our lives may be miles apart.
We may know little of their world, and they of ours.
如果我们今日才认识的话 彼此会感到愉快 但不会成为密友
If we were introduced today, we think each other pleasant enough, but would never get close.
Yet it can be hugely helpful and very redemptive to catch up with these people,
我们单独用餐 在森林漫步 或者偶尔发邮件
with a one-on-one dinner, a walk in the woods, or the occasional email.
These friends function as conduits to earlier versions of ourselves that are inaccessible day to day,
but that contain hugely important insights.
In the company of the old friend, we take stock of the journey we have traveled.
We get to see how we’ve evolved, what was once painful, what mattered,
or what we’ve wholly forgotten we deeply enjoyed.
The old friend is a guardian of memories on which we might otherwise have a damagingly tenuous hold.
We need old friends, because of a crucial complexity in human nature.
We pass through stages of development.
长大后 我们会抛弃以往的美好回忆 并可能对过去发生的种种越来越缺乏共鸣了
And as we do so, we discard previous concerns, and may develop a lack of empathy around past perspectives.
At 14, we knew a lot about resenting our parents.
Twenty years later, the whole idea sounds absurd and ungrateful,
yet the old friend reconnects us with a particular atmosphere.
And like a novelist, makes us at home with a character,
ourselves, who might otherwise, have seemed impossibly alien to us.
At 22, we found single life extremely painful.
We hung out a lot with a particular friend, and shared a litany of wistful alienated thoughts.
45岁时 我们有了孩子 我们发现自己对想要重回单身产生较大兴趣
At 45, with a young family around us, we may find ourselves increasingly curious about being single again,
and fantasize about the joys of casual hookups.
The old friend has crucial news to impart.
We experience life from a succession of very different vantage points over the decades,
but we tend understandably to be preoccupied only with a present vista,
forgetting the particular incomplete but still crucial wisdom contained in earlier phases.
Every age possesses a superior kind of knowledge in some area or other,
which then usually forgets to hand on to succeeding selves.
记得曾经的样子 而非我们现在的样子 这对我们的成长和正直的人格至关重要
Remembering what it was like, not to be who we are now, is vital to our growth and integrity.
The best professors remain friends with their past.
They remember what it was like, not to know about their special topic,
and so, don’t talk off the heads of their students.
The best bosses are in touch with their own experience of starting out as a lowly employee.
The best politicians clearly recall periods in their lives,
when they held very different views to the ones they’ve now formulated,
which allows them to persuade and empathize with hostile constituencies.
Good parents keep emotionally in touch
with the feelings of injustice and sensitivity they had in early childhood.
Kindly wealthy people remember what it was like
not to dare to walk into a fancy food shop for fear of being patronized.
And we are always better long-term lovers,
if we have an avenue of loyalty back to who we were when we first met our beloved,
and were at an apogee of gratitude and modesty.
Old friends are key activators of fascinating and valuable parts of the self,
that we need, but are always at risk of forgetting we need, in the blinkered present.
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