我在哈佛毕业30周年同学会上学到的30个人生真相,看完泪奔 ...

2月以前
王培翻译



DAVE KOTINSKY / GETTY


作者:德博拉·科帕根(Deborah Copaken

译者:王培

原文发表于《大西洋月刊》( THE ATLANTIC) 2018年1024


本文由“中年不油腻男”制作,10/28/2018 发在《心智与实在》公号。感谢授权转发。


英文原文附后。




原文前半部分探讨了哈佛近来深陷舆论漩涡的招生歧视问题,强调了大学拥抱生源多样和文化多元的重要性,后半部分则分享了作者作为哈佛校友参加毕业30周年同学会所发现的30个人生真相。为突出重点,译者只选择性地翻译了原文后半部分,让我们看看这个世界的天之骄子们是否像我们所想象的那样,对待人生就像对待芸芸众生,有一种不可一世的优越感,还是说,他们与凡人一样,都会经历和感受同样的喜怒哀乐。我得承认,虽然我还没到大学毕业30年的年纪,但有些内容真是能戳到泪点,害我边翻边泪奔。。。

—— 译者


* * * * * * 


对每个人来说,无论他/她是否读大学,或者无论读的是哪所大学,来到有限生命的中点,你会发现年轻时优秀的学生与当时平庸的学生之间已不存在太大的区别,而生命永恒的母题却成为了大家最关注的话题:突然都关心起死亡来。以下清单并不全面,但却是我在参加哈佛大学 1988 届学子毕业 30 周年同学会时所发现的 30 个大家都认同的人生真相。

 

1、没有谁的人生一如自己预期,顺风顺水,哪怕是最精明的人生规划者也没能做到这一点。

 

2、凡是成为老师或医生的同学似乎都对自己的职业选择感到满意。

 

3、很多律师似乎要么对自己的职业不甚满意,要么希望换个职业,但法律教授除外,后者的职业满意度与第2条相似。

 

4、几乎每个银行家或基金经理都希望找到一种方法,用自己积累的财富回馈社会(有些已有具体的计划,有些还没有)。到了这把年纪,他们中的很多人似乎希望尽快离开华尔街,然后投身某项艺术事业。

 

5、谈到艺术,那些将艺术作为职业的同学对自己的选择最为满意,并且通常也能取得事业成功,然而某种程度上,他们却一直都在为生计而奋斗。

 

6、他们说金钱不能买来幸福,但在我们班同学会召开前所做的在线调查表明,那些拥有更多财富的同学相比拥有较少财富的同学自认为更加幸福。

 

7、同一个在线调查显示,我们最强烈的欲望既不是性爱,也不是财富,而是获得更充足的睡眠。

 

8、“传声头像”乐队(Talking Heads)(译注:美国著名的新浪潮乐团,1975年组建,1991年解散)的《烧毁房子》(Burning Down the House)当年是我们的班歌,如今到了2018年,我们对它的喜爱丝毫不减当年。

 

9、我们班当年最害羞的同学现在很多都是著名校友了,他们参与组织了这次同学会和其他活动。

 

10、那些主动选择离婚的同学似乎在离婚后过得更开心。

 

11、那些被动接受离婚的同学似乎在离婚后过得更不开心。

 

12、有很多维持了多年婚姻的同学说,他们也曾处在离婚边缘,一旦挺过来,他们早期不成熟的婚姻关系突然就变得更成熟了。“我一直在竭尽全力经营好婚姻!”一个同学告诉我,她和她丈夫在参加一个特别有压力的婚姻治疗课上,她曾对自己的丈夫这么说道。她说,从那一刻起,丈夫开始理解她:她的不完美对他而言并不是一种侮辱,她的行为也不可能是他的行为的延伸,能时刻与他保持一致。她必须做她自己,正是她的不完美才定义了她是谁。在婚姻最痛苦的阶段,很多夫妇忘记了这一点。

 

13、几乎所有的校友都认为,年轻时的自己太幼稚,尤其是会轻易论断别人。

 

14、我们都对每个同学变得更为包容,这种友爱之情贯穿于整个同学会。我们似乎不再只把友情施与我们当年关系最亲密的同学;我们已经加深了对何为爱的理解,试图重新挽回曾经失去的同学情谊。

 

15、无论我的同学们毕业后取得了何等成就——国会议员、托尼奖(译注:美国戏剧界最高奖项)最佳导演、宇航员——我们在同学会的各种活动中聊得最多的话题仍然是:对爱的渴望、人生慰藉、智识交流、如何成为更好的领导者、对环保问题的关注、友谊和安宁的人生。

 

16、几乎所有养育了孩子的同学似乎都对他们的这一决定深感满意,有些没有孩子的同学很乐意选择这种生活方式,而有些则有些后悔。

 

17、30 年之后与寝室室友再去同一个酒吧喝一杯,其感受会比当年更加有趣。

 

18、只要有可能,尽量在老友的家里留宿,不要选择在酒店过夜,除非你带着新认识的恋爱对象或者只在当地停留一晚。这些年来,我的有些同学似乎一直在干这件事:住酒店、住酒店、住酒店。

 

19、在 30 周年同学会上,几乎所有参加同学会的有配偶的同学都没带上自己的配偶,而是把他们留在了家里。

 

20、这些年来,大多数同学的膝盖、臀部和肩膀都有劳损。

 

21、30年后,那些毕业后一直嗜酒如命的同学,岁月的沧桑写在了他们脸上。

 

22、总体而言,女同学在外貌上比男同学保养得更好。

 

23、总体而言,男同学在发挥潜能和领导力方面比女同学做得更好,这真是令人惊讶啊,惊讶。

 

24、没有带薪产假、没有经济能力照顾好孩子会对同学们的人生产生深远影响,受到这类影响的大多是女同学,她们的事业发展受挫,不得不对人生做出妥协,也失去了财富。

 

25、当哈佛大学纪念教堂(Memorial Church)顶上的吊钟敲响了27下,以纪念毕业后去世的27个同学时,在内心深处,我们所有人都知道,这些钟声在未来30年响起的次数只会越来越多。

 

26、有些同学为去世的同学合唱了几首纪念之歌,他们从来没为此做过事先排练,但听上去就像他们为此排练了好几周,哪怕在乐队指挥之下他们唱的是原创新歌。

 

27、50岁出头的年纪,同学们似乎迫不及待地想要说出真心话,对他人表达感激和友善,以免错失机会。我的一个室友为 1984 年发生的一件事感谢了我。一个没怎么打过交道的同学看了我写的《红书》(Red Book)——该书记录了我们毕业5周年的活动,其中讲述了我曾经自己打去急救室的经历——他告诉我,他原意为我支付下一次安排救护车的费用,边说还边从钱包里拿出一大叠钞票。“谢谢你的好意” 我笑着对他说,“但我可没有计划很快再次重返急救室。”

 

28、那些失去了孩子的同学学会了坚韧和感激,这些品格鼓舞了所有的同学。“不要为失去她之后的岁月感到悲痛”, 我的一个同学在纪念她女儿的悼念会上说,她女儿是哈佛大学 2019 届学生,于去年夏天去世。“相反,我们要感激她在21年的岁月中所散发出的光彩。”

 

29、那些经历了生死考验或者仍在面临考验的同学似乎在同学会上最为兴奋。“我们仍然活着!”我对我的朋友说道,他曾经经营了一家健康公司,当癌症扩散开来后,他做了面部一侧的切除手术。当我们想起我们可能差点因此而见不到面时,我们像孩子一样欢笑、嬉闹,情不自禁地相互拥抱,彼此微笑。

 

30、也许爱不是你全部所需,但正如一个同学告诉我的,“它真的很治愈!”





关于作者:

德博拉·科帕根,美国作家和摄影记者,《大西洋月刊》特约作者,著有 “The Red Book ” 和 “Shutterbabe” 两本书。



英文原文


What I Learned About Life at My 30th College Reunion

“Every classmate who became a teacher or doctor seemed happy,” and 29 other lessons from seeing my Harvard class of 1988 all grown up

DEBORAH COPAKEN

OCT 24, 2018

 

On the weekend before the opening gavel of what’s being dubbed the Harvard affirmative-action trial, a record-breaking 597 of my fellow members of the class of ’88 and I, along with alumni from other reunion classes, were seated in a large lecture hall, listening to the new president of Harvard, Lawrence Bacow, address the issue of diversity in the admissions process. What he said—and I’m paraphrasing, because I didn’t record it—was that he could fill five whole incoming classes with valedictorians who’d received a perfect score on the SAT, but that’s not what Harvard is or will ever be. Harvard tries—and succeeds, to my mind—to fill its limited spots with a diversity not only of race and class but also of geography, politics, interests, intellectual fields of study, and world views.

I loved my four years at Harvard, largely because of the diversity of its student body. I don’t love the fact—now made public through the trial but previously understood by all of us to be true—that the kids whose parents donate buildings are given preferential treatment over those whose parents don’t. But I understand why the development office, which allows the university to give a free ride to any student whose family makes less than $65,000 a year, might encourage such apractice, which is hardly unique to Harvard. I also don’t love the fact that the Harvard fight song is still “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard,” in a school populated by at least as many women as men, and yet hearing its opening notescan still make me deeply nostalgic. Moreover, I am appalled that all-male final clubs—fraternity-like eating clubs in which the sons of America’s privileged class have traditionally gathered—still exist on campus (albeit with sanctions) without commensurate opportunities, with rare exceptions, for women, minorities, and others, but I also call some of their alumni members my closestfriends.

Intelligence, it has been said, is the ability to hold two opposing ideas at the same time and still function, and if universities could be said to have one overriding goal as institutions of higher learning, it is to teach its students this critical skill, Harvard no more than others. Seeing the coin from either of its two sides has never been more important, particularly now, in this nuance-lackingera of divisiveness and nationalism. It’s no wonder that in fascist regimes, the intellectuals are always the first to be silenced.

I believe in the benefits of diversity, even if it means choosing an immigrant kid with a lower-than-usual SAT score (for Harvard) but other stellar qualities, like Thang Q. Diep, Harvard class of ’19, whose application has been trotted out by the lawsuit forall to see. And I’m also aware, as a Jew, that Harvard’s diversity initiative was first put into motion as a way to keep the university’s burgeoning Jewish population in check. I can hold both of these truths—diversity is good; the roots of diversity in the admissions process were prejudiced against my own people—and not only still be able to function but also to see that sometimes good results can come from less-than-good intentions.

Because the point of diversity on a college campus, no matter its less-than-honorableroots, is not to count how many brown faces versus how many white and black facesa school has. It is to provide a rainbow of politics and upbringings and thought processes and understandings that might teach us, through our differences, how similar we are.

Though we allwent to the same school, and Harvard’s name likely opened doors for many of us, at the end of the day—or at the end of 30 years since graduation, in this case—what was so fascinating about meeting up with my own richly diverse classduring reunion was that no matter our original background, no matter ourcurrent income or skin color or struggles or religion or health or career pathor family structure, the common threads running through our lives had less todo with Harvard and more with the pressing issues of being human.

Life does this. To everyone. No matter if or where they go to college. At a certain pointmidway on the timeline of one’s finite existence, the differences between people that stood out in youth take a backseat to similarities, with that mother of all universal themes—a sudden coming to grips with mortality—being the most salient. Not that this is an exhaustive list, but here are 30 simple shared truths I discovered at my 30th reunion of Harvard’s class of 1988.

1.    Noone’s life turned out exactly as anticipated, not even for the most ardentplanner.

2.    Every classmate who became a teacher or doctor seemed happy with the choice ofcareer.

3.    Many lawyers seemed either unhappy or itching for a change, with the exception of those who became law professors. (See No. 2 above.)

4.    Nearly every single banker or fund manager wanted to find a way to use accrued wealth to give back (some had concrete plans, some didn’t), and many, at this point, seemed to want to leave Wall Street as soon as possible to take up some sort of art.

5.    Speaking of art, those who went into it as a career were mostly happy and often successful, but they had all, in some way, struggled financially.

6.    They say money can’t buy happiness, but in an online survey of our class just priorto the reunion, those of us with more of it self-reported a higher level of happiness than those with less.

7.    Our strongest desire, in that same pre-reunion class survey—over more sex and more money—was to get more sleep.

8.    “Burning Down the House,” our class’s favorite song, by the Talking Heads, is still as good and as relevant in 2018 as it was blasting out of our freshman dorms.

9.    Manyof our class’s shyest freshmen have now become our alumni class leaders, helping to organize this reunion and others.

10.  Those who chose to get divorced seemed happier, post-divorce.

11.  Those who got an unwanted divorce seemed unhappier, post-divorce.

12.  Many classmates who are in long-lasting marriages said they experienced a turning point, when their early marriage suddenly transformed into a mature relationship. “I’m doing the best I can!” one classmate told me she said to her husband in the middle of a particularly stressful couples’-therapy session. From that moment on, she said, he understood: Her imperfections were not an insult to him, and her actions were not an extension of him. She was her own person, and her imperfections were what made her her. Sometimes people forget this, in the thick of marriage.

13.  Nearly all the alumni said they were embarrassed by their younger selves, particularly by how judgmental they used to be.

14.  We have all become far more generous with our I love you’s. They flew freely at the reunion. We don’t ration them out to only our intimates now, it seems; we have expanded our understanding of what love is, making room for long-lost friends.

15.  No matter what my classmates grew up tobe—a congressman, like Jim Himes; a Tony Award–winning director, like Diane Paulus; an astronaut, like Stephanie Wilson—at the end of the day, most of our conversations at the various parties and panel discussions throughout the weekend centered on a desire for love, comfort, intellectual stimulation, decent leaders, a sustainable environment, friendship, and stability.

16.  Nearly all the alumni with kids seemed pleased with their decision to have had them. Some without kids had happily chosen that route; others mourned not having them.

17.  Drinks at a bar you used to go to withyour freshman roommate are more fun 30 years later with that same freshman roommate.

18.  Staying at the house of an old friend, whenever possible, is preferable to spending a night in a hotel. Unless you’re trolling for a new spouse or a one-night stand, as some of my classmates seemed to have been doing, in which case: hotel, hotel, hotel.

19.  Nearly all the attendees who had spouseshad, by the 30th reunion, left theirs at home.

20.  Most of our knees, hips, and shoulders have taken a beating over time.

21.  A life spent drinking too much alcohol shows up, 30 years later, on the face.

22.  For the most part, the women fared much better than the men in the looks department.

23.  For the most part, the men fared much better than the women—surprise, surprise—in the earning-potential-and-leadership department.

24.  A lack of affordable child care and paid maternity leave had far-reaching implications for many of our classmates, mostof them female: careers derailed, compromises made, money lost.

25.  When the bell atop Memorial Church tolled 27 times to mark the passing of 27 classmates since graduation, we all understood, on a visceral level, that these tolls will increase exponentially over the next 30 years.

26.  It is possible to put together a memorial-service chorus of former alumni, none of whom have ever practiced with one another, andmake it sound as if they’d been practicing together for weeks. Even whileperforming a new and original piece by the choral conductor.

27.  In our early 50s, people seem to feel apressing need to speak truths and give thanks and kindness to one another before it’s too late to do so. One of my freshman roommates thanked me forsomething that happened in 1984. A classmate who was heretofore a stranger, butwho had read my entry in the red book, our quinquennial alumni report—in whichI recounted having taken an Uber Pool to the emergency room—offered to pay formy ambulance next time, even going so far as to yank a large pile of bills outof his pocket. “That’s okay,” I told him, laughing. “I don’t plan to return tothe emergency room anytime soon. ”

28.  Those who’d lost a child had learned akind of resilience and gratitude that was instructive to all of us. “Don’t grieve over the years she didn’t get to live,” said one of our classmates, at amemorial service for her daughter, Harvard class of 2019, who died last summer. “Rather, feel grateful for the 21 years she was able to shine her light.”

29.  Those of us who’d experienced the trauma of near death—or who are still facing it—seemed the most elated to be atreunion. “We’re still here!” I said to my friend, who used to run a health company and had a part of the side of his face removed when his cancer, out of nowhere, went haywire. We were giggling, giddy as toddlers, practically bouncing on our toes, unable to stop hugging each other and smiling as were counted the gruesome particulars of our near misses.

30.  Love is not all you need, but as one classmate told me, “it definitely helps.” 

DEBORAH COPAKEN is a contributing writer for The Atlantic. She is the author of The Red Book and Shutterbabe.







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