武夷山分享 http://blog.sciencenet.cn/u/Wuyishan 中国科学技术发展战略研究院研究员;南京大学信息管理系博导

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翻译罗素的“如何变老”送父母 精选

已有 7311 次阅读 2019-2-16 07:27 |个人分类:科林散叶|系统分类:观点评述

翻译罗素的“如何变老”送父母

武夷山

 

    大约在80年代末90年代初的样子,我摘译了英国哲学家伯特兰. 罗素的How to Grow Old(如何变老)一文送给父母,祝愿他们退休后心态阳光,身心健康。我当时对原文的理解和中文表达也许还存在不少问题,请博友指正。译文如下:

 

如何变老

作者:罗素

翻译:武夷山

 

    题目虽然这样写,实际上本文所要谈的却是人怎样才可以不变老。对于像我这样年纪的人来说,这个问题就更是重要得多了。

     ......我外祖母有九个孩子活了下来,有一个孩子婴儿期就夭折,她还流产过多次。丈夫一去世,她就致力于女子高等教育。她是格顿学院的创办人之一,曾竭尽努力使医学专业对女性开放。她曾说过,她在意大利碰到过一位愁容满面的老先生,就问他为什么闷闷不乐,他说两个小孙孙刚刚离开他。“我的天啊!”我外祖母就说,“我孙子孙女有七十二个,要是每有一人离开我都要难过,我的生活可就太痛苦了。”听了这话,老先生竟说,“这个做母亲的真怪呀!”但是我作为七十二人中的一员,倒是赞成她的法子的。她年过八十就老睡不着觉,所以从午夜到凌晨三点总要读些科普读物。我相信她从来没有工夫去注意到自己是在日益衰老。我认为,要想永葆青春,这就是妙方。你要是有广泛的爱好和强烈的兴趣,而且还有能力参加一些活动,你就没有理由去考虑自己已经活了多少岁这样的具体数字,更没有理由去考虑自己的余年大概是很有限的了。

    ......

    从心理方面说,到了老年,有两种危险倾向需要注意防止。一是过分地怀念过去。老想着过去,总觉得过去怎么好怎么好,或者总是为已故的朋友而悲伤,这是不妥的。一个人应当考虑与一些可以有所作为的事情,要做到这一点是不大容易的;自己过去的经历就是一个越来越沉重的包袱。人们往往会对自己说,我过去感情多么丰富,思想多么敏锐,现在不行了。如果真是这样的话,那就不要去想它,而如果你不去想它,情形就很可能不是这样了。

    另一件需要避免的事就是老想和年轻人待在一起,希望从青年的活力中汲取力量。孩子们长大之后,就希望独立生活,如果你还像在他们年幼时那样关心他们,你就会成为他们的累赘,除非他们特别麻木不仁。我不是说一个人不应当关心孩子,而是说这种关心主要应该是多为他们着想,可能的话,给他们一些接济,而不应该过分地动感情。动物一到自己的后代能够自己照料自己时,就不再管后代了;但是,人由于抚养子女的时间长,是难以做到这一点的。

    我认为,如果老年人对于参加适当的活动怀有强烈的非功利性兴趣,他们的晚年是最容易过得好的。在这一方面,他们的深厚阅历是很管用的。也正是在这一方面,他们从经验中得出的智慧既可以发挥作用,又不致使人感到强加于人。告诫成年的子女不要犯错误,那是没有用的,一来他们不听你的,二来犯错误本身也是受教育的一个重要方面。但是如果你这个人没有任何非功利性的兴趣,那么你就会感到生活空虚,只觉得惦记儿孙是正道。在这种情况下,你可要明白,虽然你还可以在物质方面给他们以帮助,比如给他们生活补贴,或者为他们织毛衣,但你决不要指望他们会喜欢跟你作伴。

    ......

 

原文:

How to Grow Old

Bertrand Russell

 

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 carefully. Although both my parents died young, I have done well in this respect as regards my other 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 elderly 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!” “Madre snaturale,” he replied. But speaking as one of the seventy-two, I prefer her recipe. After the age of eighty she found she had some difficulty 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 you 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 cannot 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 clinging 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 to become a burden to them, unless they are unusually callous. I do not mean that one should be without interest in them, but one’s interest should be contemplative and, if possible, philanthropic, but not unduly 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 you 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 has 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 like 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. 




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