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失败新义

所属:成长励志 作者:webmaster 阅读:9090 次 评论:0 条 [我要评论]  [+我要收藏]

60多年来我们都在剖析威利·洛曼(Willy Loman)这个阿瑟·米勒(Arthur Miller)在《推销员之死》里细致刻画的人物。就家庭上的败绩而言,威利或许在美国算得上彻头彻尾的失败者。不过如果你能忍受我絮叨几句的话,那么就请想象一下如果他不是处身1949年战后繁荣期,而是活在当下会怎么样。虽然事业确乎在走下坡路,但威利还有一份干了38年的工作,还有自己的房子——他刚刚还清最后一笔抵押贷款——还有妻子和两个孩子。今天,他会是一位幸存者。
We've spent more than 60 years dissecting Willy Loman, the character artfully sketched by Arthur Miller in Death of a Salesman. Willy is, perhaps, America's consummate loser, a failure to his family. But if you can bear with me for one moment, imagine he lived in current times, not amid the postwar prosperity of 1949. Sure, his career was ebbing, but Willy kept a job for 38 years, he owned his house—he had just made the last mortgage payment—and had a wife and two children. Today he'd be a survivor.
莫非我们对失败的见解较之威利那会宽松了?在这个国家,失业率水平如此之高,很可能将决定着中期选举结果,以及升职、奖金和退休储蓄的着落,我们中大多数人眼下都要尽力去避免失败。但如果我们开始接受“并非事业轨迹一路上升才是成功”这个道理,那么这场经济危机可能不单能减轻我们被解雇的耻辱感,也会改变我们对失败的认识。听起来有些令人震惊,失败可能会是一件好事。
Has our view of failure softened since Willy Loman's day? In a country with a level of unemployment so high that it is likely to determine the outcome of the midterm elections, and where promotions, bonuses, and retirement savings seem like relics, failure is something many of us are wrestling with right now. But if we begin to accept that success is not a simple, upward career trajectory, this economic crisis may not just reduce the stigma of being sacked but transform the way we think of failing. Shocking as it sounds, failure can be a good thing.
不错,经济衰退会吞噬自尊。在一个建立在成功与辉煌企业精神之上的国家,失败预景会让人担惊受怕——而且无颜面对——即便这并不是他们自身的错。“每一代都会有一场暴跌。”米勒在2005年临过世前写道,“这足以给我们标记上一种对失败与生俱来的恐惧。”米勒是时正评论一本由历史学家斯科特·桑达吉(Scott Sandage)写的很棒的书《天生失败者:失败在美国的沿革》。桑达吉认为威利是成功者。不过按他的说法,剧本所传达的信息则是:“如果不能持续上升,如果停滞不前了,那么你就不得不放弃,你倒不如死了算了。”
We've spent more than 60 years dissecting Willy Loman, the character artfully sketched by Arthur Miller in Death of a Salesman. Willy is, perhaps, America's consummate loser, a failure to his family. But if you can bear with me for one moment, imagine he lived in current times, not amid the postwar prosperity of 1949. Sure, his career was ebbing, but Willy kept a job for 38 years, he owned his house—he had just made the last mortgage payment—and had a wife and two children. Today he'd be a survivor.
我们并非一直这么认为的。在书里,桑达吉证明了美国人对失败的概念形成于1819至1893年间,缘于一连串投机性繁荣接踵而来的破产。在此之前,失败与个人认同无关,只是在你身上发生而已,破产被认为是源于不自量力——无节制地生活——而不是源于没有抱负。据桑达吉所说,到19世纪末期,失败已由不走运的专用说法脱胎为“不足的代名词,负债的标志。” 拉尔夫·沃尔多·爱默生(Ralph Waldo Emerson)在1842年个人日记中如是记述道:“只要不该失败,他就不会失败。男人的财富多寡总有一个理由。”据社会学家大卫·雷斯曼(David Riesman)所称,到上世纪中叶,就在威利沿街兜售商品之时,美国人已然无法想象“在私生活或工作上失败了却精神上不被击溃的可能。”(这也许是大萧条时期自杀率居高不下的原因之一。)
Has our view of failure softened since Willy Loman's day? In a country with a level of unemployment so high that it is likely to determine the outcome of the midterm elections, and where promotions, bonuses, and retirement savings seem like relics, failure is something many of us are wrestling with right now. But if we begin to accept that success is not a simple, upward career trajectory, this economic crisis may not just reduce the stigma of being sacked but transform the way we think of failing. Shocking as it sounds, failure can be a good thing.
该荒谬而危险的见解立刻招致抨击。财富上的成功真的是精神必需品么?为什么我们会认为平凡的生活不值?研究已发现,影响我们最大的情感体验来自于人缘,而非事业。据那些从事临终关怀工作的人描述,临死之际,大多数人不会遗憾没能爬上更高的位置,而是遗憾工作太辛苦,遗憾与朋友失去了联络。
This foolish, dangerous idea is under assault right now. Should financial success really be a moral imperative? Why do we think that an ordinary kind of life is of lesser worth? Studies have found that our most potent emotional experiences come from relationships, not careers. Those who work in palliative care report that, on their deathbeds, most people don't regret not having clambered a rung higher, but having worked too hard, and having lost touch with friends.
历史表明,只有当经济处于泥淖中时,美国人才能随心所欲做自己想做的事。正如作家罗琳(J.K. Rowling)2008年对哈佛毕业生的精辟之谈,失败可能意味着“汰却那些无关紧要的东西。”在成了一位穷困的单亲妈妈后,她才着手写她的魔法故事:“我不再假装自己是那个我不是的人,我开始把所有精力都用来完成这唯一对我重要的工作。不经历不幸的考验,你永远也无法真正了解自己,以及人缘的优势。”这当然并不是说丢了饭碗还值得开心。但那些滥觞于错误观点——“丢失工作既不能只怪罪运气不好,也不能只归咎经济不景,而是一种失败”——的一些判断,我们尽可泰然处之。有工作非是唯一、亦非最佳之生活标尺。
And history shows it is only when the economy is in the mud that Americans feel free to do what they want to do. As the author J. K. Rowling said so succinctly in her 2008 address to Harvard graduates, failure can mean a “stripping away of the inessential.” When she was an impoverished single mother, she started to write her magical tales: “I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.” This doesn't mean it is an uplifting experience to be unemployed, of course. But it may mean we ease up on some of the judgment that springs from the false idea that a person without a job has not just hit bad luck or a poor economy—but is a failure. Having a job is hardly the only, or best, measure of a life.
这或许也意味着我们可以接受稳定状态,明白生活会有沟沟坎坎,这是我们能爬出来的,而长远眼光方是最明智之举。经济衰退是很好的提醒,我们所有人都需要好好领悟一番,如塞缪尔·贝克特(Samuel Beckett)所说,这是为了“更好地失败。”其意在让我们重新思考这一辈子究竟想干什么,想与谁为伴,以及如何衡量价值。想想可怜的威利,今天他的孙子或许会感到自豪了。
It may also mean we can accept plateaus, understand that a life has troughs we can climb out of, and that a long view is the wisest one. A recession is a great reminder that all of us need to learn, as Samuel Beckett said, to “fail better.” Which means rethinking what we really want to do with our lives, who we want beside us, and how we measure worth. Think of poor Willy Loman. Today his grandchildren might be proud.
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2010-09-15 14:50 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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