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多灾多难的冰岛和信奉“船到桥头自然直”的冰岛人

更新时间:2018-6-21 21:25:50 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The unexpected philosophy Icelanders live by
多灾多难的冰岛和信奉“船到桥头自然直”的冰岛人

We were somewhere in the remote Westfjords, a large peninsula in Iceland’s north-west corner, when our campervan first stalled. It was late September, the end of the tourist season in a part of Iceland that sees about 6% the country’s annual tourist numbers, and the roads were all but empty.

在偏远的西峡湾——冰岛西北角一个很大的半岛某处,我们的露营车第一次熄火了。这个地方每年的游客数量占全国6%。当时是九月下旬,旅游旺季已经收尾,路上空空如也。

The van stalled twice more as my husband and I made the roughly 200km drive from Látrabjarg, a windswept bird cliff perched on the far western edge of Iceland, back to our base in Ísafjörður, the Westfjords’ largest town (pop: 2,600). Once we finally got back to our apartment, we called the campervan rental company and told them the issue. Unfortunately, the town’s mechanic wouldn’t be available before we were due to make the drive back to Reykjavik.

之后车子又熄了两次火。从冰岛西部的拉特拉尔角(Látrabjarg,欧洲最大的鸟类栖居悬崖),到我们位于伊萨菲厄泽(Ísafjörður,西峡湾最大的城市,人口2600)的大本营,我跟我丈夫开了大概200公里。我们好不容易回到公寓,立刻给露营车租赁公司打电话说明事故。倒霉的是,在我们计划开车返回首都雷克雅未克(Reykjavik)前,伊萨菲厄泽镇上的修车工都没空来给我们修车。

“Well,” said the campervan agent, “þetta reddast!”

"没事,"露营车中介说,"þettareddast!"

A quick Google search informed me that þetta reddast (pronounced thet-ta red-ust) doesn’t mean ‘sorry, I’m not paid enough to care about your troubles’, or ‘try not to get stranded in the middle of nowhere’. It means ‘it’ll all work out in the end’ – and if Iceland had an official slogan, this would be it. The phrase near-perfectly sums up the way Icelanders seem to approach life: with a laid-back, easy-going attitude and a great sense of humour.

谷歌搜索告诉我,þettareddast(念作:泽塔瑞达斯特)的意思并非"对不起,你这事儿我管不了",也不是"想法别困在偏僻的地方",而是"船到桥头自然直"。如果冰岛有官方标语,那就是这句话了。这个习语将冰岛人对待生活的态度——悠闲、平和、幽默一一概括到极致。

“It’s just one of those ubiquitous phrases that is around you all the time, a life philosophy wafting through the air,” said Alda Sigmundsdóttir, author of several books about Iceland's history and culture. “It’s generally used in a fairly flippant, upbeat manner. It can also be used to offer comfort, especially if the person doing the comforting doesn’t quite know what to say. It’s sort of a catch-all phrase that way.”

"这只是其中一个无所不在的词儿,是一种人人信奉的生活哲学。" 西格门德斯杜蒂尔(Alda Sigmundsdóttir)说,她写了好几本关于冰岛历史文化的书。"这是冰岛人常用来表达安于天命心态的词儿。也可以用来安慰人,尤其是想安慰却不知道从何说起时。堪称万能金句。"

At first glance, it seems an odd philosophy for a place where, for centuries, many things absolutely did not work out all right. Since Iceland’s settlement in the 9th Century, its history is littered with the tales of times when þetta reddast did not apply.

乍看之下,在一个近千年来生活一直很艰辛困古的地方,这句话似乎是一种很奇怪的哲学。自从9世纪维京人在冰岛定居起,其历史就充满了"船到桥头"直不了的故事。

In her book, The Little Book of the Icelanders in the Old Days, Sigmundsdóttir recounts some of these hardships: the long winters; extreme poverty; indentured servitude. There were volcanic eruptions, like the 1783 Laki eruption that killed 20% of the 50,000-strong population, as well as 80% of its sheep, which were a vital food source in a country with little agriculture. There were storms that swept in and sank the open rowboats used for fishing, wiping out much of the male populations of entire towns. Things were so bad that even up through the 18th Century, according to Sigmundsdóttir, 30% of babies died before they turned one.

西格门德斯杜蒂尔在她的《冰岛旧日时光琐记》(The Little Book of the Icelanders in the Old Days)一书中,追叙了过往冰岛人经历的部分艰难险阻:漫长严冬、极度贫穷、契约奴役。还有火山爆发,比如1783年的拉基火山(Laki)爆发,杀死了冰岛五万多人口的20%,以及绵羊的80%。冰岛几乎没有农业,绵阳是他们的主要食物来源。还有席卷而来的风暴,淹没了捕鱼用的小船,断送了许多城镇男人的性命。据西格门德斯杜蒂尔书中说,更不幸的是,在整个18世纪冰岛30%的婴儿未能活到一岁。

The Iceland of old was an exceptionally hard place to live. And the Iceland of old wasn’t that long ago. “It hasn’t been that long since we were a society of farmers and fishermen, and the seasons and the harsh conditions we lived in had complete control over our lives,” Auður Ösp, founder and owner of I Heart Reykjavik tour company, told me.

旧日的冰岛是个极难生存的地方,这段历史离我们也不远。"没多久以前我们还是农民和渔民社会,季节和恶劣的天气完全操控了我们的生活。"我爱雷克雅未克旅游公司的创始人和老板厄斯普(Auður Ösp)告诉我。

While Iceland today is an ultra-modern place where wi-fi is abundant, credit cards are accepted everywhere, and the majority of the country is powered by geothermal energy, it was only about 90 years ago that 50% of the population lived in turf houses (traditional homes with walls and roofs made of earth and grass) – so these hardships aren’t such a distant memory. Just 45 years ago, the Eldfell volcano exploded on the small island of Heimaey, spewing millions of tons of ash, engulfing 400 buildings and forcing the evacuation of all 5,000 people who lived there. And just 23 years ago, a massive avalanche decimated the town of Flateyri in the Westfjords, burying more than a dozen homes and killing 20 of the town’s 300 residents.

今天的冰岛是个超级现代的国家,无线网络到处都有,信用卡到处能刷,并且大部分地区靠地热能供电。然而短短90年前,一半人口还生活在草皮屋子里(一种墙和屋顶由泥土和草砌起来的冰岛传统房屋),所以这些艰辛往事并不遥远。仅仅45年前,赫马小岛(Heimaey)上的埃尔德菲尔(Eldfell)火山爆发,喷出上百万吨火山灰,吞没了400座建筑,5000居民被迫撤离。也仅仅在23年前,西峡湾的弗拉泰里镇(Flateyri)雪崩,埋葬了几十间房屋和镇上300位居民中的20人。

Even on a day without disasters, Iceland is beholden to the forces of nature. The island moves and breathes in a way few others do; fumaroles exhale steam; hot springs gurgle; geysers belch and bubble; waterfalls thunder. The country sits on the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and those plates are slowly moving apart, widening Iceland by about 3cm per year and causing an average of 500 small earthquakes every week.

即使是没有灾难爆发,冰岛也会受到自然力量的影响。冰岛这座岛屿的移动和呼吸也非常奇特,是世界其他地方十分之罕见的。火山地带的喷气孔呼出蒸汽,温泉四处汩汩涌动,间歇泉冒着气泡喷吐而出,瀑布则发出雷鸣的响声。这个国家坐落于北美洲板块和欧亚大陆板块的断裂处,两个板块一直在缓慢地相互拉离,因而以每年3厘米的速度拉大冰岛面积,但也给冰岛带来平均每周500次的小型地震。

The country’s weather is just as volatile and formidable. Windstorms can reach hurricane force, strong storms can sweep in even in summer, and, on the darkest winter days, the sun shines for just four hours.

这里的天气也十分可怕、很不稳定。风暴能达到飓风的强度,即使在夏天,也会刮来猛烈的风暴,到了冬季黑夜最长的时候,每天只有四小时的阳光。

“Those who live off the land are in constant battle with the elements,” Ösp said. “For example, when it suddenly starts to snow in August, like it happened in the north a few years ago, you need to drop everything and go out and rescue your animals. Or, when there’s a volcanic eruption that disrupts flights all over the world and leaves a bunch of people stranded in Iceland, you need to think on your feet and figure out what to do.”

厄斯普说,"这里靠山吃山、靠水吃水的人们一直在和大自然作斗争。比如,八月份突然下雪了,几年前北方就发生这种事,那你就要放下手中的一切赶紧出去救回牲畜。或者,火山突然爆发,打乱了全世界往返冰岛的航班,留下一大群人滞留在这里,你就得随机应变,想出法子来。"

Maybe it makes sense, then, that in a place where people were – and still are – so often at the mercy of the weather, the land and the island’s unique geological forces, they’ve learned to give up control, leave things to fate and hope for the best. For these stoic and even-tempered Icelanders, þetta reddast is less a starry-eyed refusal to deal with problems and more an admission that sometimes you must make the best of the hand you’ve been dealt.

在一个曾经是、也许现在依然是受天气、土地和岛上独特地理条件支配的地方,人们放手不管、听从天意、一切往好的想,也是说得通的。对于这些坦然又平和的冰岛人,"船到桥头自然直"并非是盲目乐观地回避问题,而是尽人事、听天命。

The phrase begins to be a little more understandable when you find out that the first Icelanders weren’t marauding Vikings who bravely sailed across the ocean in search of new lands to raid and tribes to wage war upon. Rather, they were mostly Norwegian farmers and peasants fleeing slavery and death at the hands of King Harald Finehair in the 9th Century. They so feared his wrath that they risked the 1,500km journey across the rough North Atlantic seas in small open-hulled boats. It’s hard to imagine those early settlers making the journey – one undertaken with no maps or navigational tools – without a little bit of blind hope.

最早的冰岛人并非是那些敢于海上冒险,四处抢劫土地、攻击异国部落的维京人。相反,他们大都是公元9世纪的挪威农民,为逃离奴隶制和挪威哈拉尔德•费恩哈尔国王(King Harald Finehair)的暴政而迁移冰岛。对国王盛怒的恐惧,让他们被迫冒险穿过波涛汹涌的北大西洋,靠着简陋的小艇在海上航行了1500公里。冰岛这批早期定居者横越北大西洋的航程今人难以想象,因为他们一没地图、二没导航工具,甚至不抱一丝盲目的希望。如果你了解到冰岛开国这一历史,也许你就会明白"船到桥头自然直"这个习语了。

“We couldn’t live in this environment without a certain level of conviction that things will work out somehow, hard as they seem in the moment,” Ösp said. “Þedda redast represents a certain optimism that Icelanders have and this carefree attitude that borders on recklessness. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but we don’t let that stop us from trying.”

厄斯普说,"虽然这一刻事情看起来很难,但总会有办法解决的。要是不这样想,我们很难在这种环境中生活下去。船到桥头自然直,代表了冰岛人的乐观,这种无忧无虑有点接近不顾后果。有时凑效,有时没用,但我们不会因此停止尝试。"

“It’s not that we’re impulsive or stupid,” Ösp continued. “We just believe in our abilities to fix things. With the conditions we live under, we’re often forced to make the impossible possible.”

"并不是说我们是冲动、愚蠢的,"厄斯普说,"我们只是相信自己有解决问题的能力。生活条件都这样了,常常是逼着你让不可能变为可能。"

And in many cases, Icelanders have made the impossible possible. They turned their stunning 2008 economic collapse and the disruptive 2010 eruptions of an unpronounceable volcano into PR opportunities that made Iceland one of the hottest destinations in the world, attracted millions of visitors and turned tourism into one of the main drivers of a now-robust economy. And in 2016, Iceland stunned the sporting world when it beat the odds to become the smallest country to ever qualify for the UEFA European Championship. Iceland beat England to make it to the quarter-finals against France. And though there was little chance they’d win, roughly 8% of the Icelandic population travelled to Paris to cheer on the team (they ultimately lost 5-2).

在许多情况下,冰岛人的确让不可能成为可能。他们走出了震惊世界的2008年经济大崩溃,让冰岛经济强势复兴。他们将2010年一座念不出名字的火山爆发造成的大灾难转而为一场成功的国际公关,使冰岛成为世界最热门的旅游目的地,吸引了上百万的游客,让旅游业成为现在强劲经济的主推力之一。2016年,冰岛作为一匹黑马成了闯入欧洲足球锦标赛的史上最小国家,震惊体育界。他们在争夺八强时击败英国,闯入对阵法国的四分之一决赛。虽然获胜的希望十分渺茫,还是有大约8%的冰岛人前往巴黎加油助威(虽然最后以5比2落败)。

A 2017 University of Iceland survey showed that nearly half of Icelanders say ‘þetta reddast’ is the philosophy they live by. Perhaps, as Sigmundsdóttir and Ösp suggest, this idea that everything will work out has been infused into Icelandic culture through the centuries. After all, for those who survived – and even thrived – against all odds, everything kind of did work out all right in the end.

2017年冰岛大学一项研究表明近半冰岛人认为"船到桥头自然直"是他们的生活哲学。也许正如西格门德斯杜蒂尔和厄斯普所言,近千年来,这种一切都会好起来的想法已经融入了冰岛的文化。毕竟,对那些克服重重困难幸存下来,甚至发达了的冰岛人来说,一切到最后的确都解决了。

“This is just my home-grown theory,” Sigmundsdóttir said, “but I think the Icelanders had to face so many hardships that they learned to meet adversity with a combination of laissez-faire and capitulation. It’s something that became ingrained in the Icelandic people through centuries of living with a climate and landscape that always had the upper hand, against which you had to surrender, again and again, because you couldn’t fight them. It’s difficult in Iceland not to feel your insignificance against the elements.”

"这只是我自创的理论,"西格门德斯杜蒂说,"不过我觉得冰岛人得面对如此多的艰难险阻,也就学会了以一种顺其自然的态度面对困境。这种想法在冰岛人心中已经根深蒂固,毕竟几百年来,这里的气候和自然环境始终占上风,抗争不过,你不得不一再妥协。在冰岛,面对大自然时,你就是想不感到渺小都无可能。"

“I think this mentality shows that we have a belief in ourselves as a nation and as individuals,” Ösp added. “Who would have believed, for example, that a team from a nation of 350,000 people could make it to the 2018 World Cup in Russia? We did – that’s who.”

厄斯普补充道,"我觉得这种心态表明,我们对国家、对自己都很有信心," "举个例子,谁相信一个只有35万人的小国,它的球队能踢进2018俄罗斯世界杯呢?我们做到了,这就是冰岛人。"

It seems the Icelandic belief that things will turn out all right also comes with a little effort and ingenuity on the part of the believer.

看来冰岛人对一切都会变好的这份信仰,也有一部分来自于信徒们的努力和智慧。

For my husband and I, that meant trusting that everything would work out on our drive back to Reykjavik. If the ‘þetta reddast’ attitude could help Icelanders thrive on a barely inhabitable rock on the edge of the North Atlantic, surely the same optimism could see us through a few hundred kilometres of remote mountain passes in the unreliable van.

对我和我丈夫而言,这意味着要相信开车回雷克雅未克时一切都会解决。如果"船到桥头自然直"能让冰岛人在北大西洋边缘一块几乎无法居住的土地上生存兴旺,那这种乐观主义肯定也能帮助我们凭着这辆不靠谱的露营车开过偏远山区的几百公里道路。

So, just like those early settlers who set sail from Norway, we set out with little assurances but a lot of hope. Of course, we had one major advantage: we had mobile phones.

所以,正如那些从挪威起航的早期定居者一般,我们出发了,保险几乎没有,但希望却很大。当然,我们有一个极大的优势:带着手机。

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