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努力爱,哪怕死亡终将到来

更新时间:2016-12-6 9:36:22 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Do Not Go Gentle
努力爱,哪怕死亡终将到来

A friend once told me about going to see her father shortly before he died. He had advanced Alzheimer’s and peered at her blankly. Then he said: “You are home.”

一位朋友曾经对我说过在她父亲即将去世时前去探望的情景。他患有重度阿兹海默氏症,茫然地盯着她。随后他说:“你回家了。”

“Yes, Dad,” she said. “I’m your daughter.”

“是的,爸爸,”她说。“我是你的女儿。”

He said, “I had you too much under my thumb.”

他说,“我过去管你管得太严了。”

Home, and what constitutes it, is the most potent of memories. It’s not excess of love we regret at death’s door, it’s excess of severity. If we lived every day as the last day of our lives, the only quandary would be how to find the time to shower love on enough people. We live distracted and die with too much knowledge to bear.

家,以及家的构成元素,堪称最强烈的记忆。让我们在垂死之际感到后悔的不是爱得太多,而是太过严厉。如果我们把每一天都当成生命中的最后一天来过,唯一的困惑会是如何找出时间向足够多的人表达爱意。我们活着的时候总是忙东忙西,临死的时候总是有太多感悟。

December has come, the last month of an awful year, and I am sure I am not alone in saying good riddance to 2016. It’s been the worst of years, one of those periodic reminders that the raging beast in humankind always lurks.

现在是12月,一个糟糕年头的最后一个月份,我相信自己不是唯一一个对即将甩开2016年感到庆幸的人。它是多年来最糟糕的一年,是定期提醒人们人群之中潜藏着猛兽的一年。

For me, the menacing political storms of America and Europe have been accompanied by family illness; and I’ve found myself in recent days cocooned in thoughts of those I love, the fragility of life, and its delicate beauty.

对我来说,则是美国及欧洲掀起骇人的政治风暴,家中又有人生病的一年。而且我发现自己最近总是不停地想起我爱的人,想起生命的脆弱以及它的细微之美。

I listened this week to an inventor, a brilliant man convinced of the proximity of human immortality, which he believes to be just a couple of medical bridges away. He’s taking dozens of pills to ensure that he reaches the first of those bridges, perhaps around 2030. I confess immortality, whose attainment is a hot theme in Silicon Valley, does not interest me.

本周,我聆听了一位发明家的弘论,那是一个颇为出色的人,坚信人类很快便可以长生不老,只要再跨越几道医学上的桥梁就能做到。他一直在服用大量药片,以确保自己或许可以于2030年左右抵达那些桥梁中的第一道。说实话,我对长生不老不感兴趣,尽管它在硅谷是热门话题。

When I think of it the image that comes to my mind is of a blazing hot day with the noonday sun beating down in perpetuity. The light is blinding. There is no escape from it, no perspective, no release.

每当想起长生不老,浮现在我脑海中的画面都是这样的:炎热的一天,正午的阳光永恒地照耀着。那阳光非常刺眼。你无处可逃,看不到任何景致,也感觉不到解脱。

The most beautiful times of day are dawn and dusk when shadows are long, offering contrast, refuge and form. Death is the shadow that gives shape to existence, urgency to love, brilliance to life. Limitless life is tedium without resolution.

一天中最美好的时刻是清晨和黄昏:影子很长,可以形成对比、提供庇护、勾勒轮廓。死亡便是影子,它让存在有了形态,让爱有了迫切感,让生命有了光彩。无限的生命只能充满无药可救的乏味。

As Ecclesiastes has it, there is a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted. I find it hard to imagine what inner peace can exist without acceptance of this cycle — the bright green of the first spring leaf, the brittle brown leaves of fall skittering down an alley in a gust of wind.

正如《传道书》(Ecclesiastes)所言,生有时,死有时;栽种有时,收获所栽种的亦有时。第一片亮绿色的叶子会在春天抽出,到了秋天,干枯的褐色叶片则会随风飘落在巷子里。我发现,如果无法接受这种循环,就很难有内心的平和可言。

None of which is to urge mere acquiescence to death, whether physical or political, in this season when death merchants are on the march. On the contrary, this is a time to rage, a time to heed Dylan Thomas: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

但这绝非主张人们应该在这个死亡贩子纷纷出动的季节束手迎接死亡的到来,不论是生理上的还是政治上的死亡。相反,此刻应该咆哮,应该听迪伦·托马斯(Dylan Thomas)的话:“咆哮,咆哮于光之消散。”

Another friend, who has battled and vanquished cancer, told me the other day of going to lunch with his 98-year-old father a couple of months before his death. My friend fought back tears as he recalled how his father leaned over to him toward the end of the meal and said: “You know, I did not want to die before I knew you were well.” It is for sons to bury their fathers, not fathers their sons.

我的另一位朋友一直在和癌症抗争,最终取得了胜利。前不久,他把自己在98岁的父亲去世的几个月前与其共进午餐的情形讲给我听。这位朋友强忍着眼泪回忆,他父亲在午餐快要结束的时候探过身,说道:“你知道的,我不想在得知你一切都好之前死去。”在这个世界上,总要由儿子埋葬父亲,而非由父亲埋葬儿子。

Ah, fathers, they wait so long before they let down their guard with their sons. When they do the power and poignancy of it is overwhelming.

可是,天下的父亲总要等很久很久,才会对儿子感到放心。当他们这样做的时候,那种影响和辛酸是压倒性的。

My own father, now 95 and withdrawn, wrote to me on the death 17 years ago of my manic-depressive mother: “I know that my spirit will not soon be released from those cruel demons that tore so relentlessly at the entwining fabric of love between Mom and me. I did strive within the feeble limits of my human fallibility to preserve and cherish and sustain her. But alas — for Mama ultimately, death was the only angel that could shield her from despair.”

我自己的父亲是一个沉默寡言的人,今年95岁,我的母亲患有躁郁症,于17年前去世。父亲在给我的信中曾这样谈及母亲的离去:“残忍的魔鬼一直冷酷无情地撕扯着你妈妈和我之间的缠绵爱意,我知道这些魔鬼不会很快就让我的灵魂得到解脱。作为一个能力有限的凡人,我曾想方设法地保护、珍视和支持她。唉,可是到了最后,对你妈妈来说,死亡才是唯一一个可以保护她免受绝望困扰的天使。”

The most vulnerable parts of our nature are often those closest to our greatest gifts. I will always be grateful for the moments I was able to see my gifted father unguarded.

我们天性中最脆弱的部分,往往和我们收到的最好的礼物离得最近。我会永远感激于可以看到自己的天才老爸卸下心防。

And his brother, my uncle Bert, who died three years ago at 95, having fought for this suddenly fragile free world, battling across Italy in the 6th South African Armored Division, 19th Field Ambulance. He would have been disgusted by 2016.

父亲的兄长、我的伯父伯特(Bert)于三年前去世,享年95岁。他曾经为这个突然变得颇为脆弱的自由世界而战,作为南非第六装甲师第十九野战医院的一员,在意大利各地的战场上留下足迹。如果还活着,他肯定会被2016年恶心到。

But for one thing: the World Series victory of the Chicago Cubs. After World War II he studied dentistry at Northwestern University and retained a passion for the city’s baseball. He was at the opening game of the White Sox (losing) 1959 World Series and would recall to me the bedlam created by Ted Kluszewski’s first home run as it crashed into the bleachers at what was Comiskey Park. He felt the crescendo “would lift us off our feet.”

但有一件事除外:芝加哥小熊队(Chicago Cubs)在世界大赛上赢得了胜利。二战结束后,他在西北大学(Northwestern University)攻读过牙科,对该市的棒球运动一直充满热情。1959年,白袜队(White Sox)参加世界大赛的开幕赛(失利)时,他曾亲临现场。他曾向我回忆起特德·克鲁苏斯奇(Ted Kluszewski)击出的第一支本垒打所引发的喧嚣,那还是在科米斯基体育场(Comiskey Park),球飞向了看台。他感觉那种狂喜“让我们飘飘忽忽如在云端”。

I’ve been having imaginary conversations with Bert about the Cubs and Chicago. I hear his voice. The dead whisper to us, they console us, they admonish us. Love more, love better. Do not — Dylan Thomas again — go gentle into that good night.

我在想象中围绕小熊队和芝加哥与伯特展开了对话。我听到了他的声音。逝者会向我们低语,他们会给我们以安慰和告诫。要更多地去爱,更好地去爱。再次奉上迪伦·托马斯的诗句:绝不向黑夜请安。

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