生活的艺术 The Art of Living
he art of living is to know when to hold fast and when to let go. For life is a paradox: it enjoins us to cling to its many gifts even while it ordains their eventual relinquishment. The rabbis of old put it this way:" A man comes to this world with his fist clenched, but when he dies, his hand is open."
Surely we ought to hold fast to life, for it is wondrous, and full of a beauty that breaks through every pore of God' s own earth. We know that this is so, but all too often we recognize this truth only in our backward glance when we remember what was and then suddenly realize that it is no more.
We remember a beauty that faded, a love that waned. But we remember with far greater pain that we did not see that beauty when it flowered, that we failed to respond with love when it was tendered.
A recent experience re-taught me this truth. I was hospitalized following a severe heart attack and had been in intensive care for several days. It was not a pleasant place.
One morning, I had to have some additional tests. The required machines were located in a building at the opposite end of the hospital, so I had to be wheeled across the courtyard on a gurney.
As we emerged from our unit, the sunlight hit me. That's all there was to my experience. Just the light of the sun. And yet how beautiful it was -- how warming, how sparking, how brilliant! I looked to see whether anyone else relished the sun's golden glow, but everyone was hurrying to and fro, most with eyes fixed on the ground. Then I remembered how often I, too, had been indifferent to the grandeur of each day, too preoccupied with petty and sometimes even mean concerns to respond from that experience is really as commonplace as was the experience itself: life's gifts are precious -- but we are too heedless of them.
检查完出来时，阳光照在我身上。那是我当时感受到的一切。和煦的阳光，多么美丽———多么温暖，多么耀眼，多么灿烂!我环顾四周，想看其他人是否也在欣赏这 金灿灿的阳光，但来来去去的每个人都行色匆匆，眼睛大都盯着地面。这时，我忆起我也经常因被琐碎、有时甚至毫无意义的事占据头脑而每天对这样壮观的景色熟 视无睹。就在那一刻，我突然意识到生活的馈赠是多么珍贵———而我们却忽视了它们。
Here then is the first pole of life' s paradoxical demands on us : Never too busy for the wonder and the awe of life. Be reverent before each dawning day. Embrace each hour. Seize each golden minute.
Hold fast to life...but not so fast that you cannot let go. This is the second side of life' s coin, the opposite pole of its paradox: we must accept our losses, and learn how to let go.
This is not an easy lesson to learn, especially when we are young and think that the world is ours to command, that whatever we desire with the full force of our passionate being can, nay, will, be ours. But then life moves along to confront us with realities, and slowly but surely this truth dawns upon us.
At every stage of life we sustain losses -- and grow in the process. We begin our independent lives only when we emerge from the womb and lose its protective shelter. We enter a progression of schools, then we leave our mothers and fathers and our childhood homes. We get married and have children and then have to let them go. We confront the death of our parents and our spouses. We face the gradual or not so gradual waning of our strength. And ultimately, as the parable of the open and closed hand suggests, we must confront the inevitability of our own demise, losing ourselves as it were, all that we were or dreamed to be.
在 人生的每个阶段我们都会蒙受损失———并在此过程中成长。我们只有脱离母体、失去庇护所时才开始独立生活。我们进入各级学校，然后离开父母。我们结婚生子，然后再放飞子女。我们面对父母和配偶的离世，我们逐渐或很快变得衰弱。最终，如同张开和握紧的手的寓言，我们必须面对不可避免的死亡，失去原来的自 我，失去我们原有的或梦想的一切。
In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another–which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. We have come to see them as the point — and we're happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that's the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totempole. No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it… Now it's “So what does this get me?” As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans.
It's an epidemic — and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune… one of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School… where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the midlevel curriculum is called Advanced College Placement. And I hope you caught me when I said “one of the best.” I said “one of the best” so we can feel better about ourselves, so we can bask in a little easy distinction, however vague and unverifiable, and count ourselves among the elite, whoever they might be, and enjoy a perceived leg up on the perceived competition. But the phrase defies logic. By definition there can be only one best. You're it or you're not.
If you've learned anything in your years here I hope it's that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning. You've learned, too, I hope, as Sophocles assured us, that wisdom is the chief element of happiness. (Second is ice cream… just an fyi) I also hope you've learned enough to recognize how little you know… how little you know now… at the moment… for today is just the beginning. It's where you go from here that matters.
As you commence, then, and before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance. Don't bother with work you don't believe in any more than you would a spouse you're not crazy about, lest you too find yourself on the wrong side of a Baltimore Orioles comparison. Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction. Be worthy of your advantages. And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life. Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer; and as surely as there are commencements there are cessations, and you'll be in no condition to enjoy the ceremony attendant to that eventuality no matter how delightful the afternoon.
爱的礼物 A gift of love
"Can I see my baby?" the happy new mother asked.
When the bundle was nestled in her arms and she moved the fold of cloth to look upon his tiny face, she gasped. The doctor turned quickly and looked out the tall hospital window. The baby had been born without ears.
Time proved that the baby's hearing was perfect. It was only his appearance that was marred. When he rushed home from school one day and flung himself into his mother's arms, she sighed, knowing that his life was to be a succession of heartbreaks.
He blurted out the tragedy. "A boy, a big boy...called me a freak."
He grew up, handsome except for his misfortune. A favorite with his fellow students, he might have been class president, but for that. He developed a gift, a talent for literature and music.
"But you might mingle with other young people," his mother reproved him, but felt a kindness in her heart.
The boy's father had a session with the family physician... "Could nothing be done?"
"I believe I could graft on a pair of outer ears, if they could be procured," the doctor decided. SO the search began for a person who would make such a sacrifice for a young man.
Two years went by.Then, "You're going to the hospital, son. Mother and I have someone who will donate the ears you need. But it's a secret." said the father.
The operation was a brilliant success, and a new person emerged. His talents blossomed into genius, and school and college became a series of triumphs.
Later he married and entered the diplomatic service. "but I must know," he asked his father, "Who gave me the ears? Who gave me so much? I could never do enough for him."
"I do not believe you could," said the father, "but the agreement was that you are not to know...not yet."
The years kept their profound secret, but the day did come. One of the darkest days that ever pass through a son. He stood with his father over his mother's casket. Slowly, tenderly, the father stretched forth a hand and raised the thick, reddish brown hair to reveal taht the mother had no outer ears.
"Mother said she was glad she never let her hair be cut," his father whispered gently, "and nobody ever thought mother less beautiful, did they?"