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生命中的每一年的智慧

Wisdom from great writers on every year of life | Joshua Prager

下个月我就44岁了,
I’m turning 44 next month,
并且我觉得44岁将成为美好的一年,
and I have the sense that 44 is going to be a very good year,
充满着实现和领悟的一年。
a year of fulfillment, realization.
我有这种感觉,
I have that sense,
并不是因为什么特别的事,
not because of anything particular in store for me,
而是我从诺曼·梅勒
but because I read it would be a good year
在1968年写的书上看到的。
in a 1968 book by Norman Mailer.
“44岁, 他感觉到了岁月无情,”
“He felt his own age, forty-four …”
梅勒在《夜幕下的大军》中写到
wrote Mailer in “The Armies of the Night,”
“感觉到他自己就是
“… felt as if he were a solid embodiment
骨头, 肌肉, 心, 意识, 情感 组成的坚实的化身,
of bone, muscle, heart, mind, and sentiment to be a man,
就像他已经那个年纪了一样。”
as if he had arrived.”
是的,我知道梅勒不是在写我。
Yes, I know Mailer wasn’t writing about me.
但我冥冥中 能感受到他其实就在写我;
But I also know that he was;
因为我们所有人:你,我, 还有他书中的主人公,
for all of us — you, me, the subject of his book,
都在一点点变老,
age more or less in step,
从出生就限定在了 恒定的生命规律中了:
proceed from birth along the same great sequence:
从孩提时期的好奇和禁锢;
through the wonders and confinements of childhood;
到少年时代的不羁和烦恼;
the emancipations and frustrations of adolescence;
再到步入成年的权威和里程碑
the empowerments and millstones of adulthood;
最后迈入老年的德高望重。
the recognitions and resignations of old age.
生命有它自己的规律,
There are patterns to life,
这是所有人必经的历程。
and they are shared.
就如托马斯·曼所写: “我将经历别人所经历的一切。“
As Thomas Mann wrote: “It will happen to me as to them.”
我们不仅存活在这种规律中,
We don’t simply live these patterns.
我们还会把它们记录下来。
We record them, too.
我们把它写进书里,
We write them down in books, where they become narratives
成为了大家都可以读识的叙事。
that we can then read and recognize.
书籍能帮我们了解曾经的我们,
Books tell us who we’ve been,
当下的我们,和未来的我们。
who we are, who we will be, too.
所以书籍已经存在了上千年。
So they have for millennia.
正如詹姆斯·索尔特所写,
As James Salter wrote,
“如果生命能变成什么的话, 它能变成一本书。”
“Life passes into pages if it passes into anything.”
所以六年之前 一个想法从我脑中闪过:
And so six years ago, a thought leapt to mind:
如果岁月能变成书, 那么在某处,一定有
if life passed into pages, there were, somewhere,
关于每一个年纪的文章存在。
passages written about every age.
如果我能找到它们, 我就可以把它们串成一段故事。
If I could find them, I could assemble them into a narrative.
我可以把它们汇成一辈子,
I could assemble them into a life,
一段长达一百年的生命,
a long life, a hundred-year life,
这是只有最幸运的我们
the entirety of that same great sequence
才跨越过的生命长度。
through which the luckiest among us pass.
当年我37岁,
I was then 37 years old,
威廉·特雷弗说 这是“一个小心翼翼的年纪”。
“an age of discretion,” wrote William Trevor.
我总是想去沉思岁月和人生。
I was prone to meditating on time and age.
我们家族中的一种遗传病, 后来也对我有所伤害。
An illness in the family and later an injury to me
这件事告诉我不是每个人都 能平平安安活到老的。
had long made clear that growing old could not be assumed.
况且,年华老去只不过是 推迟了不可避免的死亡的事实,
And besides, growing old only postponed the inevitable,
岁月看穿了一切。
time seeing through what circumstance did not.
这有些令人伤感。
It was all a bit disheartening.
然而一张时间表会得以留存。
A list, though, would last.
去记录逐渐衰弱的生命,
To chronicle a life year by vulnerable year
就是去尝试挽留流水般逝去的年华,
would be to clasp and to ground what was fleeting,
就是让我们自己和别人 可以窥一眼未来,
would be to provide myself and others a glimpse into the future,
无论我们是否能抵达终点。
whether we made it there or not.
而当我开始整理我的时间表时, 我就已经被迷住了,
And when I then began to compile my list, I was quickly obsessed,
一页一页地寻找岁月的痕迹。
searching pages and pages for ages and ages.
在一百年的跋涉中 我们回看每年的步伐。
Here we were at every annual step through our first hundred years.
“二十七岁, 是一个充满著豁然开朗的年龄。”
“Twenty-seven … a time of sudden revelations,”
“六十二岁, 是一个逐渐光华不再的年龄。”
“sixty-two, … of subtle diminishments.”
当然我也明白, 这种对岁月的见解是相对的。
I was mindful, of course, that such insights were relative.
首先,我们的寿命比前人要长, 所以我们衰老得慢。
For starters, we now live longer, and so age more slowly.
克里斯托弗·伊舍伍德 用“落叶”
Christopher Isherwood used the phrase “the yellow leaf”
形容53岁的人,
to describe a man at 53,
而一百年前拜伦伯爵正好用这个词 形容当时36岁的自己。
only one century after Lord Byron used it to describe himself at 36.
(笑声)
(Laughter)
我也知道, 有时命运多舛的人一年之间
I was mindful, too, that life can swing wildly and unpredictably
也会经历不可预测的大风大浪,
from one year to the next,
每个人在同样的年龄 都有不同的经历。
and that people may experience the same age differently.
即使如此, 当这张时间表完成的时候,
But even so, as the list coalesced,
我仍然能在那里面找到
so, too, on the page, clear as the reflection in the mirror,
我自己一生的影子:
did the life that I had been living:
发现“人在20岁的时候 总是看不清自己”;
finding at 20 that “… one is less and less sure of who one is;”
三十出头“总算从 荒芜闯出精彩纷呈“;
emerging at 30 from the “… wasteland of preparation into active life;”
40岁学会了“要轻轻地关上
learning at 40 “… to close softly the doors to rooms
我不再进去的房间的门。”
[I would] not be coming back to.”
这就是我,
There I was.
当然,这也是我们。
Of course, there we all are.
你所看到的这张美丽的照片
Milton Glaser, the great graphic designer
正是85岁的米尔顿·格拉塞,
whose beautiful visualizations you see here,
一位了不起的平面设计师。
and who today is 85 —
86个年头,“正是成熟和昇华之时” 纳博科夫写到。
all those years “… a ripening and an apotheosis,” wrote Nabokov —
对于我来说,文学就像艺术和色彩,
noted to me that, like art and like color,
替我们记住我们记住了曾经的我们。
literature helps us to remember what we’ve experienced.
果真,当我把这张时间表 拿给我祖父看时
And indeed, when I shared the list with my grandfather,
他赞同地点了点头。
he nodded in recognition.
他当时已经95岁了, 离大去之时不远了。
He was then 95 and soon to die,
像罗伯托·博拉诺写的,
which, wrote Roberto Bolaño,
“这就如同永垂不朽。”
“… is the same as never dying.”
往回看,我祖父也跟我这样说过。
And looking back, he said to me that, yes,
普鲁斯特说所不假, 22岁的我们坚信我们不会死,
Proust was right that at 22, we are sure we will not die,
而就像死亡学家, 埃德温父施耐德曼说的,
just as a thanatologist named Edwin Shneidman was right
90岁的时候, 我们都清楚我们将要离去。
that at 90, we are sure we will.
就跟他的同辈人一样
It had happened to him,
他已然经历了死亡。
as to them.
现在这张时间表已经完成:
Now the list is done:
整整一百年。
a hundred years.
只是现在再回看这张表,
And looking back over it,
我觉得我还没有完成我的任务。
I know that I am not done.
我还要去好好活我余下的人生,
I still have my life to live,
而这剩下的年华,也足够去书写更多精彩。
still have many more pages to pass into.
心中不忘诺曼·梅勒所言,
And mindful of Mailer,
44岁,我满怀期待。
I await 44.
谢谢。
Thank you.
(掌声)
(Applause)

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