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2007年07月19日    来源:   字体:   打印

  lesson29 How to Grow Old

  Bertrand Russell

  1.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 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 yonth at the age of sixty-seven,but my other three grandparents all lived to be over eighty.Of remoter ancestors I can only discover on who did not live to a great age,and he died of a disease which is now rare,namely,having his dead cut off.A greatgrandmother of mine lived to age of ninety-two,and to her last day remained a terror to all her descendants.My maternal grandmother,after having nine childrenn 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 tell of how she met in Italy an elderly gentleman who was looking very sad.She asked him why he was so 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 miserable 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 never had time to notice that she was growing old.This,I think,is the properrecipe for remaining young. If you have wide and keen interests and activites in which you can still be effective,you will have no reason to think about the merely statisticall fact of the number of years you have already lived,still less of the probable shortness of your future.

  2.As regards health,I have nothing useful to say as 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.

  3.Psychologically there are two dangers to be guarded against in old age.One of these is too great an absorption in the past.One should not liive in memories,in regrets for the good old days,or in sadness about friend 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 a 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 more keen.If this is true it should be forgotten,and if it is forgotten it will probably not be ture.

  4.The other thing to be avoided is cliniging to youth in the hope of finding strength in 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 insensible.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 too emotional. Animals become indiffereent to their young ass soon as their young can look after themselves,but human beings,owing to the length of infancy,find this less easy.

  5.I think that a successful old age is easiest for those whooo have strong impersonal interests leading to suitable activities.It is in this sphere that long experience is really fruitful,and that the wisdom born of experience can be used without becoming a burden.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 impersonall interests,you may find that your life will be empty unless you concern yourself with your children and grandfather.In that case you must realise that while you can still help them in material ways,as by making them an allowance or knitting them jumpers,you must not expect that they will enjoy your company.

  6.Some old people are trouble by the fear of death.In the young there is a justification for this feeling.Young men who have reason to fear they will be killed a battle may justifiably feell 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 done whatever work it was in him to do ,the fear of death is somewhat 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 part of 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 part of the sea,and painlessly lose their individual being.The man who,in old age,can see hiis liife in this way,will not suffer from the fear of death,since the thing be cares for will continue.And if,with the loss 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 the thought that what was possible has been doen.(1054 words)

  Three passions I have lived for

  7.Three passions,simple but overwhelmingly strong,have governed my life:the loving for love,the search for knowledge,and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.These passions,like great winds,have blown me hither and thither,in a wayward course over a deep ocean of anguish,reaching to the very verge of despair.

  8.I have sought love,first,because it brings ecstasy——so great that I would often have sacrified all the rest of my life for a few hours of this joy.I have sought it,next,because it relieves loneliness——that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss.I have sought it,finally, because in the union of love I have seen,in a mystic miniature,the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined.This is what I sought,and thought it might seem to good for human life,this is what——at last——I have found.

  9.With equal passion I have sought knowledge.I have wished to understand the hearts of men.I have wished to know why stars shine……A little of this,but not much,I have chieved.

  10.Love and knowledge,so far as they were possible,led upward toward the heavens.But always pity brought me back to the earth.Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart.Children in famine,victims tortured by oppressors,helpless old people a hated burden to their sons,and the whole world loneiness,poverty,and pain made a mockery of what human life should be.I long to alleviate the evil,but I cannor,and I too suffer.

  11.This has been my life.I have found it worth living,and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.