纽约时报双语: 我们在新冠大流行之前也不快乐

我们在新冠大流行之前也不快乐
We Weren’t Happy Before the Pandemic, Either
ESAU McCAULLEY
2021年9月10日
纽约时报双语: 我们在新冠大流行之前也不快乐

I do not remember the last conversation I had with my father before he died. The weeks and months before his passing were like the months and years of our life together: full of starts and stops. We tried to create the relationship we knew that fathers and sons should have but that we didn’t, because he left our family when I was young. There were times when I called and he did not answer. In other cases, I missed his attempts to connect.

我不记得父亲去世前我们的最后一次谈话。他去世前的几周和几个月就像我们一起生活的那几个月和几年:充满着开始和结束。我们试图建立一种我们觉得父子应当有,却从未有过的关系,因为他在我幼时就离开了我们的家庭。有几次我打电话给他,他没有接。有时候是他试图联系我,而我错过了。

In August 2017, I received a phone call in the middle of the night. My father had died in a single-vehicle accident in California, far from those who knew and loved him.

2017年8月,我在半夜接到一个电话。父亲在加利福尼亚——他在当地没有认识的人或家人——死于一次无其他车辆涉及的车祸。

As I grieved, my father’s death brought a certain clarity about my calling as a husband and parent. If my relationship with my dad had been marked by brokenness, I wanted my relationship with my wife and children to be marked by healing. It also forced me to re-evaluate my career. Impressing other writers and academics ceased to be my goal. Instead, I would focus on using my words to find beauty and hope. I couldn’t write a different ending for my father’s story, but I could show that a different ending was possible for others.

当我沉浸在悲痛中时,父亲的去世让我对作为丈夫和家长的担当感到更加清晰。如果我与父亲的关系始终以破裂形容,我希望我与妻子和孩子的关系可以归结为一种治愈。这也迫使我重新评估我的事业。我的目标不再是给其他作家和学者留下深刻的印象。相反,我会专注于用我的文字来寻找美丽和希望。我无法为父亲的故事写出不同的结局,但我可以证明其他人可能拥有不同的结局。

Over the past year and a half, many people have experienced something similar to what I did when my father died. I am not the only one who has received a terrifying call that wakes us from our slumber and changes us forever. It may have been a notification about a loved one going on a ventilator rather than dying in a car crash, but the trauma is the same. This pandemic has left conversations and lives cut short.

在过去的一年半里,很多人都经历过类似我在父亲去世时所做的事情。我不是唯一一个接到可怕电话的人,这个电话将我们从沉睡中唤醒,并永远改变了我们。这个通知可能是所爱之人上了呼吸机而非死于车祸,但创伤是一样的。这场大流行使谈话和生命都缩短了。

And it seems to be bringing a similar clarity to people about their priorities: The pandemic has led to one of the largest shifts in jobs in recent memory, with millions of Americans making changes. The housing market is exploding as many people reconsider where they want to live. We are in the midst of a societal shift, an awakening to how much we want our lives to be different. But the changes leave an issue unaddressed: Why didn’t we know all of that before?

它似乎也让人们认清了什么是重要的:大流行导致了相当长一段时间里最大的劳动力市场转型之一,数百万美国人做出了改变。随着许多人重新考虑他们想在哪里居住,房地产市场正在爆炸式增长。我们正处于社会变革之中,意识到我们多么希望自己的生活不同于从前。但这些变化留下了一个未解决的问题:为什么这些我们以前都不知道?

All these changes that people are embarking on during the pandemic make me think that we weren’t that happy before the pandemic. What about our lives prevented us from seeing things that are so clear to us now? When I talked to friends and neighbors about this, two themes emerged. The pandemic has disabused us of the illusion of time as a limitless resource and of the false promise that the sacrifices we make for our careers are always worth it.

人们在大流行期间开始的所有这些变化,让我觉得我们在大流行之前并不那么快乐。在我们的生活中,是什么阻止我们看到现在看得如此清晰的事物?当我与朋友和邻居谈论这件事时,出现了两个主题。这场疫情使我们摆脱了时间是一个无穷的资源的错觉,以及我们为职业做出的牺牲总是值得的虚假承诺。

Before the pandemic, we knew we were going to die, but we did not believe it. Maybe we believed it, but considered it a problem to be dealt with later. In the meantime, exercise and a reasonable diet was the tithes we paid to our fears. We believed we had time.

在大流行之前,我们知道我们会死,但我们不相信。也许我们相信了,但认为这是一个以后才会处理的问题。与此同时,锻炼和合理的饮食只是我们为恐惧付出的一小部分。我们相信我们还有时间。

For all that we know about the relatively low mortality rates of Covid-19 among the young, it remains something of a deadly lottery. You could take all the precautions, be basically healthy, and still die, quickly. I have classmates and friends who graduated from high school and college alongside me who have died from this disease.

尽管我们知道年轻人中Covid-19的死亡率相对较低,但它仍然是一种致命的彩票。你可以采取所有预防措施,达到基本健康,但仍然死得很快。我有和我一起毕业的高中和大学的同学朋友死于这种疾病。

We have had to consider our collective mortality. And we are now faced with the question of meaning. Like the biblical psalmist says, “We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.” (Psalm 124:7). Covid-19 threatened to capture us in its snare, but thus far we have eluded it. What shall we do with this opportunity?

我们不得不考虑我们的集体死亡率。我们现在面临着意义的问题。正如圣经中的诗人所说:“我们好像雀鸟,从捕鸟人的罗网里逃脱,罗网破裂,我们就逃脱了。”(诗篇124:7)。Covid-19威胁要用它的罗网俘获我们,但到目前为止我们都躲过了它。我们要如何利用这个契机?

This opportunity made plain what may have been hidden. Maybe the sacrifices we make for our careers are not worth it. When we had the illusion of time, the lower pay, long commutes, high cost of living and separation from loved ones seemed a small price to pay for a successful career. But the pandemic reminded us that there are some things more important than vocational progress.

这个契机暴露了可能始终隐蔽的东西。也许我们为事业做出的牺牲不值得。当我们有时间的错觉时,较低的工资、长时间的通勤、高昂的生活成本和与亲人的分离似乎是为成功的事业付出的微不足道的代价。但疫情提醒我们,有些事情比职业发展更重要。

Friends with children came to see that living far from family meant that they did not have a social network that could help them when school and life logistics became difficult. Covid-19 showed us that when systems break, we need people.

一些有孩子的朋友开始意识到,远离家人的生活意味着,当学校和生活琐事变得困难时,他们没有一个可以帮到他们的社交网络。Covid-19告诉我们,当系统崩溃时,我们需要人的支持。

This was equally true for single friends who lived in areas where the entire social scene catered to married people with families. Being at home helped many people realize how lonely they were before the pandemic and how few people they could really turn to in need.

对于一些单身朋友来说也是如此,他们住在所有社交活动都迎合有家庭的已婚人士的地区。待在家里让许多人意识到他们在疫情之前有多孤独,以及他们真正能求助的人是多么的少。

The pandemic has reminded us that life is more than what we do. It is about whom we spend our lives with. We cannot hug a career or laugh with a promotion. We are made for friendship, love and community.

这场大流行病提醒我们,生活不只是我们所做的事。它是关于我们和谁共度一生。我们不可能拥抱一份事业,或者和一次升职一起哈哈大笑。我们生来就是为了友情、爱和社群。

I recognize that for some, Covid-19 did not raise the same existential questions. They had to deal with the issues of survival, including the need for food and a warm place to sleep. Nonetheless, I have relatives in service industries raising similar questions. They are no longer willing to deal with harassment from rude customers for a barely livable wage. They are struggling to pay their bills, but they are doing so on their terms with their humanity intact.

我意识到对有些人而言,Covid-19没有引发同样关乎存在意义的问题。他们必须想办法活下去,包括获得食物和一个温暖的地方睡觉。尽管如此,我有一些在服务行业的亲戚也提出了相似的问题。他们不再愿意为了一份勉强维持生活的收入而应付粗鲁顾客的骚扰。他们正在吃力地支付账单,不过是在符合他们自己的意愿、他们的人性完好无损的条件下来做这些事。

If there is a lesson in this for employers, it is to remember that employees are more than workers. We have an identity outside the hours committed to making a living. Jobs that treat their employees honorably, provide flexibility and leave room for life outside of work will thrive.

如果这些对雇主来说有什么教训的话,那就是要记住,员工不仅仅是工人。我们有一种在用于谋生的时间之外的身份。体面对待员工、提供灵活性并为工作之外的生活留出空间的工作将会蓬勃发展。

I did not get to speak to my father a final time, but I did deliver the eulogy at his funeral. The need to make sense of his death revealed what was so often hard to see in the ebb and flow of our life together. He was not simply the villain who caused so much pain to our family; he was a broken person trying to find himself in a world that rarely shows damaged Black men pity. He was like most of us, a mass of contradictions.

我没能和我父亲说上最后一次话,但我在他的葬礼上致了悼词。理解他的死亡这个需求,揭示了在我们共同生活的起起落落中很难看到的东西。他不只是那个给我的家庭造成了这么多痛苦的恶棍;他也是一个破碎的人,试图在一个很少给满是疮痍的黑人男性展示同情的世界里找到自己。他和我们大多数人一样,是矛盾的集合体。

In that eulogy I spoke about how an earlier brush with death via a heart attack changed him. He finally began to ask ultimate questions and work his way toward his own answers. He and I began to have hard and necessary conversations. I confronted him about things he had done and the real pain he caused. It was not a healing, but it began something we never got to finish.

在悼词中,我谈到了早年因心脏病发作而与死亡擦肩而过的经历是如何改变他的。他终于开始问人生的终极问题,并努力找到他自己的答案。我和他开始进行艰难而必要的谈话。我质问他所做过的事和他造成的痛苦。这不是一种治愈,但它开始了一种我们未能完成的东西。

When he died, I was in the early stages of writing what became “Reading While Black.” It has the following dedication: “This book is dedicated to the memory of Esau McCaulley Sr., who died before he ever got to see a book bearing our name in print. Whatever else I am, I will always remain your son.”

他去世的时候,我刚开始写《黑人的阅读》(Reading While Black),它的致辞是这样的:“这本书献给老以扫·麦卡利(Esau McCaulley Sr.),他在看到一本印有我们名字的书之前就去世了。不论我还有什么身份,我始终是你的儿子。”

I did not dedicate the book to him because we were close. We were not. I dedicated it to him because his life and later tragic death forced me to make decisions about who and what I wanted to be. It gave me courage to write even if the world rejected it. I was changed through the calamity of his death, and the changes continue. It seems that Covid-19 has dealt a collective trauma to the American consciousness and that the full fruit of that trauma remains uncertain. One thing is clear: Our previous normal was not as good as we thought it was.

我把这本书献给他并不是因为我们很亲密。我们并不。我把它献给他,是因为他的一生和后来的悲惨死亡迫使我决定我想成为谁和成为什么。即使被世界拒绝,这也给了我写作的勇气。他去世的灾难改变了我,这些改变仍在继续。Covid-19似乎对美国人的意识造成了集体性创伤,这种创伤的全部后果还不确定。有一件事是清楚无疑的:我们过去的常态并不如我们以为的那般坚固美好。

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