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How to Grow Old? 英汉对照

(2007-07-07 12:28:52)
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    In spite of the title, this article will really be on how not to grow old,which,at my time of life,is a much more important subject.My first advice would be to choose your ancestors.My maternal grandfather,it is true,was cut off in the flower of his youth at the age of sixty-seven,but my other three grandparents all lived to be over eighty.Of remoter ancestors I can only discover one who did not live to a great age,and he died of a disease which is now rare,namely,having his head cut off.

    A great grandmother of mine,who was a friend of Gibbon,lived to the age of ninety-two,and to her last day remained a terror to all her descendants.My maternal grandmother,after having nine children who survived,one who died in infancy,and many miscarriages,as soon as she became a widow,devoted herself to woman's higher education.She was one of the founders of Girton College,and worked hard at opening the medical profession to women.She used to relate how she met in Italy an elder gentleman who was looking very sad.She inquired the cause of his melancholy and he said that he had just parted from his two grandchildren."Good gracious"she exclaimed,"I have seventy-two grandchildren,and if I were sad each time I parted from one of them,I should have a dismal existence!""Madaresnaturale,"he replied.But speaking as one of the seventy-two,I perfer her recipe.After the age of eighty she found she had some diffculty in getting to sleep,so she habitually spent the hours from midnight to 3 a.m. in reading popular science.I do not believe that she ever had time to notice that she was growing old.This,I think,is proper recipe for remaining young.If you have wide and keen interests and activities in which you can still be effective,you will have no reason to think about the merely statistical fact of the number of years you have already lived,still less of the probable brevity of your future.

    As regards health I have nothing useful to say since I have little experience of illness.I eat and drink whatever I like,and sleep when I can not keep awake.I never do anything whatever on the ground that it is good for health,though in actual fact the things I like doing are mostly wholesome.

    Psychologically there are two dangers to be guarded against in old age.One of these is undue absorption in the past.It does not do to live in memories,in regrets for the good old days,or in sadness about friends who are dead.One's thoughts must be directed to the future and to things about which there is something to be done.This is not always easy:one's own past is gradually increasing weight.It is easy to think to oneself that one's emotions used to be more vivid than they are,and one's mind keener.If this is true it should be forgotten,and if it is forgotten it will probably not be true.

    The other thing to be avoided is clingling to youth in the hope of sucking vigor from its vitality.When your children are grown up they want to live their own lives,and if you continue to be as interested in them as you were when they were young,you are likely become a burden to them,unless they are unusually callous.I do not mean that one should be without interested in them,but one's interest should be contemplative and if possible,philanthropic,but not unduely emotional. Animals become indifferent to their young as soon as their young can look after themselves,but human beings,owing to the length of infancy,find this difficult.

    I think that a successful old age is easiest for those who have strong impersonal interests involving appropriate activities.It is in this sphere that long experience is really fruitful,and it is in this sphere that the wisdom born of experience can be exercised without being oppressive.It is no use telling grown-up children not to make mistakes,both because they will not believe you,and because mistakes are an essential part of education.But if you are one of those who are incapable of impersonal interests,you may find that your life will be empty unless you concern yourself with your children and grandchildren.In that case you must realize that while you can still render them material services,such as making them an allowance or knitting them jumpers,you must not expect that they will enjoy your company.

    Some old people are oppressed by the fear of death.In the young there is a justification for this feeling.Young men who have reason to fear that they will be killed in battle may justifiably feel bitter in the thought that they have been cheated of the best things that life has to offer.But in an old man who have known human joys and sorrows,and has achieved whatever work it was in him to do the fear of death is somewhat abject and ignoble.The best way to overcome it-so at least it seems to me-is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal,until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede,and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.An individual human existence should be life a river-small at first,narrowly contained within its banks,and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls.Gradually the river grows wider,the banks recede,the waters flow more quietly,and in the end,without any visible break,they become merged in the sea,and painlessly lose their individual being.The man who,in old age,can see his life in this way,will not suffer from the fear of death,since the things he cares for will continue.And if,with the decay of vitality,weariness increases,the thought of rest will not be unwelcome.I should wish to die while still at work,knowing that others will carry on what I can no longer do and content in the thought that what was possible has been done.
如何安度晚年

B.A.罗素

  从心理上说,老年时期要防止两种危险。其一是过分沉湎于过去。生活于回忆之中,为以往的好时光而抱憾,或因朋友作古而悲伤,这些皆无济于事。人的思想必须朝着未来,朝着还可以有所作为的方面。这并非总是容易做到;因为一个人的过去是一份不断加重的负担。人们容易认为自己的感情,过去比现在充沛,自己的思想,过去比现在敏锐。如果这是事实,就应该忘掉它。如果它被忘掉,那它也许将不成其为事实。

  另一件要避免的事是紧拽着年轻人,希望从他们的生机中吸取活力。当你的孩子们已经长大,他们就要过他们自己的生活,如果你还是想他们小时侯那样对他们关心备至,你就可能成为他们的包袱,除非他们特别麻木不仁。我不是说他们应该不闻不问,但是你所给予的关心应当是理性的,解囊相助的(如果可能的话),而非过于感情冲动。动物在自己的后代一旦能够生活自理时,便不再给予关怀,但是人类,由于幼年时期太长,很难做到这一点。

  我想一个人能做到对合适的活动兴趣盎然、不计较个人得失,那么,他就极易享有成功的晚年,因为长期积累的经验在此可以结出累累硕果,而由经验产生的在此时既有用武之地,而又不至咄咄逼人。叫已经成人的孩子不要犯错误是没有益处的,因为他们不会相信你,同时也因为犯错误是接受教育的不可少的一环。但假如你做不到不计个人得失,那么,不将心放在孙儿身上,你便会觉得生活空虚无望。假使如此,你必须明白:虽然你还能给他们物质上的帮助,诸如给点补贴或织几件毛衣,但你千万不要指望他们会喜欢和你在一起。

  有些老人为死的恐惧所困扰。如果年轻人有这种恐惧,那倒无可厚非。年轻人有理由害怕战死沙场;当他们想到被骗走了生命所能给予的美好生活,他们有理由愤愤不平。但对于一个备尝人生甘苦,也已完成该做的一切的老人来说,怕死就有点不大可取了。克服这种恐惧的最好方法是——至少在我看来如此——使你的兴趣逐渐扩大,越来越超出个人之外,最终你的自我之墙将一点一点地后退,你的生命将越来越和人类的生命之墙融合在一起。一个人的一生应该像一条河——起初很小,被两岸紧紧束缚,猛烈地冲向岩石和瀑布。逐渐地它变宽了,两岸后退了,河水静静地流淌。到最后,不经过任何可见的停留,就和大海汇合在一起,毫无痛苦地失去它自身的存在。一个在老年能这样看待生活的人,将不会感到死的恐惧,因为他所关心的事物将继续下去。如果由于生命力的衰退,倦意日增,安息的想法也许不无可喜之处。我希望我能死于工作之时,并且临终时能知道别人将继续做我不能再做的工作,同时能为自己已完成力所能及的一切而心满意足。

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