世界上最优美的中英散文:论老之将至

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论老之将至

英国著名数学家、哲学家、政论作家和社会活动家,逻辑主义的代表人物。11岁时开始学习欧氏凡伺。18步八剑桥大学学习,1908年当选为英国皇家学会会员。1910年后任蓟桥大学讲卿、研究员,并积极投身于社会活动。他一生著述颠幸,涉及数学、哲学、社会学等多个领域。主要作品有(数学原理》、《西方哲学史》、《神秘主义与逻辑学》、《婚姻与道德》等。他在散文刨作i也成绩斐然,主要散文集有《记忆中的画面及其他)。1950年获诺贝尔文学实。

世界上最优美的中英散文:论老之将至

虽然是这样一个题目,但我写下这篇文章的真正用意却是要谈怎样才能永葆青春。这一点对于我这个年纪的人而言实在是一个至关重要的问题。我的第一个建议就是,要仔细考虑一下你的祖先。虽说我的双亲都早早故去.但我所考虑的是其他祖先.而且考虑得还很周全。事实上,我的外祖父六十七岁时去世,正值盛年,不过,我另外三位祖父辈的亲人都活到了八十岁以上。至于稍远些的亲戚,也只有一位寿命不长的,他死于一种非常罕见的“病症”:杀头。我有一位曾祖母是吉本的朋友,她活到了九十二岁高龄,而且,直到辞世,她始终都是子孙们深为敬畏的人。我的外祖母,一辈子生养了十个孩子,其中有一个天折了,除此之外,她还经历了多次流产。可在她丈夫辞世后,她立即投身于妇女高等教育事业。她是格顿学院的创办人之一,立志使妇女进入医疗行业。她时常提起曾在意大利偶遇的一位神情忧郁的老绅士,当她询问他忧伤的缘由时,他说他刚刚失去了两个孙子。“天啊,”她大叫道。“我有七十二个孙子孙女,如果我每失去一个都如您一样痛不欲生.恐怕我根本活不下去了!”“占怪的母亲。”他回答说。可是,坦白说,虽身为她七十二个孙儿孙女中的一员,但我更喜欢她这种思想。八十岁以后.她开始难以入睡。于是,她便常常在午夜至凌晨三点这段时间里阅读一些有关科普方面的书籍。我想她根本没有时间留意自己正在衰老的事实。在我看来,这就是保持青春的最好方法。你的兴趣和活动越广泛,对它们的感情越强烈,而且你还能够从中感到自己仍然精力旺盛,那么你根本无暇考虑自己活了多少年这种统计学才应该研究的问题,更不必考虑你时目无多的现实。

谈到健康,因为我此生几乎从未患过什么疾病,所以也就没有什么建议了。在吃喝方面,我一向随心所欲,睡意正浓时,我从不强迫自己醒来,只管睡好了。我做事也从不以有益健康为依据,不过多数时候我喜欢做的事情往往是有益健康的。

从心理方面来讲,老年人应该预防两种危险:第一是过于沉湎于往事。人不可以活在过去.不能沉浸在对往日美好生活的怀念,或对故友去世的悲痛之中。而是应该把思想集中在未来,要用在考虑自己应该做些什么事情上。可是,要做到这一点并非易事,往事每天都在增加,它对人的影响也从未停止过。人们总认为自己过去的情感要比现在强烈得多,头脑也比现在机敏得多。如果真如我所说的这样,就应该试着去忘记它;只有做到这一点,你才能真正清楚你意识中的情形未必是真实的。

第二是避免依恋年轻人,期望从他们的青春活力中汲取些力量。事实上,子女长大后,往往希望能够按照自己的意愿生活。如果你一如往昔的像对待年幼的孩子那样去关心他们,反而会成为他们心灵上的包袱,除非他们是精神愚笨之人。但这并不意味着完全不去关心子女,而是说,这种关心应该稍含蓄些,而且,如果可能的话,还应该多些宽容,而不应该过分感情用事。许多野生动物的幼子一旦能够自立,它们的父母便不再呵护它们了。可是。人类的幼年时期较长,于是这一点很难做得到。

在我看来,对于那些有着广泛的爱好、适宜的活动,且不受情感因素困扰的人们,想成功度过老年绝非难事。而且,也只有生活在这种氛围里,长寿才真正有意义,源于经验的智慧才能挥洒自如。告诫已经成人的子女不要犯错是毫无意义的,因为,首先他不会相信你的话;其次,错误原本就是教育不可缺少的要素之一。但是,如果你是那种无法摆脱情感支配的人,那么你就会发现。将思想的重心从子女和孙辈身上移开,生活就会变得异常空虚。如果事实如此。那么你还可以为他们提供一些物质上的帮助,比如支援他们一笔钱,或为他们织件毛衣,当在做这些事情的时候,你千万别期望着他们会因为有你的陪伴而感到快活。

有些老年人因惧怕死亡而承受着痛苦的煎熬。我想。年轻人害怕死亡还是情有可原。一些年轻人害怕自己会在战争中不幸丧生。一想到也许会失去生活原本可以赐予他们的种种美好事物,他们就会感到无比痛苦。这种担心并非没有道理。可是,对于一个经历了世事的悲欢离合、履行了一个应尽职责的老人,害怕死亡就略显可耻了。依我之见,克服这种恐惧的最好办法是:逐渐扩大你的兴趣泛围。并使其与自己的情感世界相脱离,直至困住自己的围墙一点点瓦解,而你的生活也渐渐与大家的生活相融合。每一个人的生活都应该像河水一样——最初只是涓涓细流,为狭窄的两崖所限制,然后满怀激情地冲过巨石,滚下瀑布。渐渐地,河道变宽了,河岸也得以扩展,水流变得越来越趋于均衡了。最终,河流汇入了海洋,从此再难见到明显的间隔或停顿,随即便得以超脱,完全摆脱自我的存在。能够看清这一点的老人,绝不会在面对死亡时感到痛苦,因为他所珍爱的一切仍将会继续下去。而且,随着年龄的增加,精力会逐渐衰退,疲惫之感也与日俱增,脱离尘世并非是个不受欢迎的想法。我渴望死于尚能劳作之时,并感知他人将继续完成我未竟的事业,这样。我会因自己已倾尽所能而备感欣慰。

Now to Grow 0ld

Inspire 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 1ast 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 women’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明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 1 were sad each time l parted from one of them.I should have a dismal existence!”“Madre snaturale.”he replied.But speaking as one of the seventytwo,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 3:00 A.M.in reading popular science.I do nol believe that she ever had time to notice that she was growing old.This,I think,is the proper recipe for remaining young.If you have wide and keen interests and activities in which you call 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 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 di·rected to the future,and to things about which there is something to be done.This is notalways easy;one’s own past is a gradually increasing weight.It is easy to think to oneselfthat one’s emotions used to be more vivid than they are,and one’s mind more keen.Ifthis 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 vigorfrom its vitality.When your children ale 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 notmean that one should be without interest in them,but one’s interest should be coil.tempiative and,if possible,philanthropic,but not unduly emotional.Animals becomeindifferent 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 impersonalinterests involving appropriate activities.It is in this sphere that long experience is re—ally fruitful,and it is in this sphere that the wisdom born of experience can be exer.cised without being oppressive.It is no use telling grown—up children not to make mis—takes,both because they will not believe you,and because mistakes are an essentialpart of education.But if you ale one of those who are incapable of impersonal inter-ests,you may find that your life will be empty unless you concern yourself with yourchildren and grandchildren.In that case you must realize that while you can still ren—der them material services,such as making them an allowance or knitting themjumpers,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 justi—fication for this feeling.Young men who have reason to fear that they will be killed inbattle may justifiably feel bitter in the thought that they have been cheated of the bestthings 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 ab.ject and ignoble.The best way to overcome it—so at least it seems to me—is tomake your interests gradually wider and more impersonal,until bit by bit the walls ofthe ego recede,and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.An in—dividual human existence should be like a river—small at first,narrowly containedwithin its banks,and rushing passionately past boulders and over waterfalls.Graduallythe 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 in.dividual being.The man who,in old age,can see his life in this way,will not sufferfrom the fear of death。since the things he cares for will continue.And if,with the de.cay of vitality,weariness increases,the thought of rest will be not unwelcome.I shouldwish to die while still at work.knowing that others will carry on what I can no longerdo,and content in the thought that what was possible has been done.

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