Three days to see All of us have read thrilling stories in which the hero had only a limited and specified time to live. Sometimes it was as long as a year; sometimes as short as twenty-four hours. But always we were interested in discovering just how the doomed man chose to spend his last days or his last hours. I speak, of course, of free men who have a choice, not condemned criminals whose sphere of activities is strictly confined. Such stories set us thinking, wondering what we should do under similar circumstances. What events, what experiences, what associations should we crowd into those last hours as mortal beings? What happiness should we find in reviewing the past, what regrets? Sometimes I have thought it would be an excellent rule to live each day as if we should die tomorrow. Such an attitude would emphasize sharply the values of life. We should live
each day with a gentleness, a vigor, and a keenness of appreciation which are often lost when time stretches before us in the constant panorama of more days and months and years to come. There are those, of course, who would adopt the motto of "Eat, drink, and
be merry," but most people would be punished by the certainty of death. Most of us take life for granted. We know that one day we must die, but usually we picture that day as far in the future. When we are in good health, death is all but unimaginable. unimaginable We seldom think of it. The days stretch out endlessly. So we go about our petty tasks, hardly aware of our listless attitude toward life.
The same listlessness , I am afraid, characterizes the use of all our faculties and senses.
Only the deaf appreciate hearing, only the blind realize the blessings that lie in sight. Particularly does this observation apply to those who have lost sight and hearing in adult life. But those who have never suffered loss of sight or hearing damage seldom make the fullest use of these blessed faculties. Their eyes and ears take in all sights and sounds hazily, without concentration and with little appreciation. It is the same old story of not being grateful for what we have until we lose it, of not being conscious of health until we are ill. I have often thought it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days at some time during his early adult life. Darkness would make him more appreciative of sight; silence would tech him the joys of sound. Now and then I have tested my seeing friends to discover what they see. Recently I was visited by a very good friend who had just returned from a long walk in the woods, and I asked her what she had observed. "Nothing in particular, " she replied. I might have been
incredulous had I not been accustomed to such responses, for long ago I became convinced that the seeing see little
How was it possible, I asked myself, to walk for an hour through the woods and see nothing worthy of note? I who cannot see find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch. I feel the delicate symmetry of a leaf. I pass my hands lovingly about the smooth skin of a silver birch, or the rough, shaggy bark of a pine. In the spring I touch the branches of trees hopefully in search of a bud, the first sign of awakening Nature after her winter's sleep. I feel the delightful texture of a flower, and discover its remarkable folds; and something of the miracle of Nature is revealed to me. Occasionally, if I am very fortunate, I place my hand gently on a small tree and feel the happy quiver of a bird in full song. I am delighted to have the cool waters of a brook rush through my open fingers. To me a thick carpet of pine needles or soft grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug To rug. me the colorful seasons are a thrilling and unending drama, the action of which streams through my finger tips. At times my heart cries out with longing to see all these things. If I can get so much pleasure from mere touch, how much more beauty must be revealed by sight. Yet, those who have eyes apparently see little. the panorama of color and action which fills
the world is taken for granted. It is human, perhaps, to appreciate little that which we have and to long for that which we have not, but it is a great pity that in the world of light the gift of sight is used only as a mere conveniences rather than as a means of adding fullness to life. Oh, the things that I should see if I had the power of sight for three days! 我们大家都读过一些令人激动的故事,这些故事里的主人公仅仅活在有限并且特定的 时间内,有时长达一年,有时短到24小时。但我们总是有兴趣发现,那命中注定要死的是 那些有选择自由的人,而不是那些活动范围被严格限定了的判了刑的犯人。 这样的故事让我们思考,在相似的情况下,我们该怎么办,作为终有一死的人,在那最 终的几个小时内安排什么事件, 什么经历, 什么交往?在回顾往事时, 我们该找到什么快乐? 什么悔恨? 有时我想到,过好每一天是个非常好的习惯,似乎我们明天就会死去。这种态度鲜明地 强调了生命的价值。我们应该以优雅、精力充沛、善知乐趣的方式过好每一天。而当岁月推 移,在经常瞻观未来之时日、未来之年月中,这些又常常失去。当然,也有人愿按伊壁鸠鲁 的信条“吃、喝和欢乐”去生活。(译注:伊壁鸠鲁是古希腊哲学家,他认为生活的主题目 的是享乐,而最高的享受唯通过合理的生活,如自我控制才能得到。因为生活享受的目的被 过分强调,而达此目的之手段被忽视,所以伊壁鸠鲁的信徒现今变为追求享乐的人。他们的 信条是:“让我们吃喝,因为明天我们就死亡”),但绝大多数人还是被即将面临死亡的必 然性所折磨。 但是,我们大多数人把生活认为是理所当然的。我们知道,某一天我们一定会死,但通 常我们把那天想象在遥远的将来。当我们心宽体健时,死亡几乎是不可想象的,我们很少想
到它。时日在无穷的展望中延展着,于是我们干着琐碎的事情,几乎意识不到我们对生活 的倦怠态度。 恐怕,同倦的懒散也成为利用我们所有的本能和感觉的特点。只有聋子才珍惜听力,唯有 瞎子才体会到能看见事物的种种幸福, 这种结论特别适合于那些在成年阶段失去视力和听力 的人们, 而那些从没有遭受视觉或听觉损伤之苦的人却很少充分利用这些天赐的官能。 他们 模模糊糊地眼观八方,耳听各音,毫无重点,不会鉴赏,还是那相同的老话,对我们所有的 官能不知珍惜,直至失去它,对我们的健康意识不到,直至生病时。 我常常想,如果每个人在他成年的早期有一段时间致瞎致聋,那会是一种幸事,黑暗会 使他更珍惜视力,寂静会教导他享受声音。 我不时地询问过我的能看见东西的朋友们,以了解他们看到什么。最近,我的一个很好 的朋友来看我,她刚从一片森林里散步许久回来,我问她看到了什么,她答道:“没什么特 别的。”如果我不是习惯了听到这种回答,我都可能不相信,因为很久以来我已确信这个情 况:能看得见的人却看不到什么。 我独自一人, 在林子里散步一小时之久而没有看到任何值得注意的东西, 那怎么可能呢? 我自己,一个不能看见东西的人,仅仅通过触觉,都发现许许多多令我有兴趣的东西。我感 触到一片树叶的完美的对称性。 我用手喜爱地抚摸过一株白桦那光潮的树皮, 或一棵松树的 粗糙树皮。春天,我摸着树干的枝条满怀希望地搜索着嫩芽,那是严冬的沉睡后,大自然苏 醒的第一个迹象。我抚摸过花朵那令人愉快的天鹅绒般的质地,感觉到它那奇妙的卷绕,一 些大自然奇迹向我展现了。有时,如果我很幸运,我把手轻轻地放在一棵小树上,还能感受 到一只高声歌唱的小鸟的愉快颤抖, 我十分快乐地让小溪涧的凉水穿过我张开的手指流淌过 去。 对我来说, 一片茂密的地毯式的松针叶或松软而富弹性的草地比最豪华的波斯地毯更受 欢迎。对我来说四季的壮观而华丽的展示是一部令人激动的、无穷尽的戏剧。这部戏剧的表 演,通过我的手指尖端涌淌出来。 有时,由于渴望能看到这一切东西,我的内心在哭泣。如果说仅凭我的触觉我就能感受 到这么多的愉快,那么凭视觉该有多少美丽的东西显露出来。然而,那些能看见的人明显地 看得很少,充满世间的色彩和动作的景象被当成理所当然,或许,这是人性共有的特点;对 我们具有的不怎么欣赏,而对我们不具有的却渴望得到。然而,这是一个极大的遗憾,在光 明的世界里,视力的天赋仅仅作为一种方便之用,而没有作为增添生活美满的手段。
The Shadowland of Dreams
By Alex Haley
Many a young person tells me he wants to be a writer. I always encourage such people, but I also explain that there's a big difference between "being a writer" and writing. In most cases these individuals are dreaming of wealth and fame, not the long hours alone at the typewriter. "You've got to want to write," I say to them, "not want to be a writer." The reality is that writing is a lonely, private and poor-paying affair. For every writer kissed by fortune, there are thousands more whose longing is never rewarded. Even those who succeed often know long periods of neglect and poverty. I did. When I left a 20-year career in the Coast Guard to become a freelance writer, I had no prospects at all. What I did have was a friend with whom I'd grown up in Henning Tennessee. George found me my home?a cleaned-out storage room in the Greenwich Village apartment building where he worked as superintendent. It didn't even matter that it was cold and had no bathroom. Immediately I bought a used manual typewriter and felt like a genuine writer. After a year or so, however, I still hadn't received a break and began to doubt myself. It was so hard to sell a story that I barely made enough to eat. But I knew I wanted to write. I had dreamed about it for years. I wasn't going to be one of those people who die wondering, "What if?" I would keep putting my dream to the test?even though it meant living with uncertainty and fear of failure. This is the Shadowland of hope, and anyone with a dream must learn to live there. Then one day I got a call that changed my life. It wasn't an agent or editor offering a big contract. It was the opposite?a kind of siren call tempting me to give up my dream. On the phone was an old acquaintance from the Coast Guard, now stationed in San Francisco. He had once lent me a few bucks and liked to egg me about it. "When am I going to get the $15, Alex?" he teased. "Next time I make a sale." "I have a better idea," he said. "We need a new public-information assistant out here, and we're paying $6,000 a year. If you want it, you can have it." Six thousand a year! That was real money in 19
  60. I could get a nice apartment, a used car, pay off debts and maybe save a little something. What's more, I could write on the side. As the dollars were dancing in my head, something cleared my senses. From deep inside a bull-headed resolution welled up. I had dreamed of being a writer?full time. And that's what I
was going to be. "Thanks, but no," I heard myself saying. "I'm going to stick it out and write." Afterward, as I paced around my little room, I started to feel like a fool. Reaching into my cupboard?an orange crate nailed to the wall?I pulled out all that was there: two cans of sardines. Plunging my hands in my pockets, I came up with 18 cents. I took the cans and coins and jammed them into a crumpled paper bag. There Alex, I said to myself. There's everything you've made of yourself so far. I'm not sure I ever felt so low. I wish I could say things started getting better right away. But they didn't. Thank goodness I had George to help me over the rough spots. Through him I met other struggling artists, like Joe Delaney, a veteran painter from Knoxville, Tennessee. Often Joe lacked food money, so he'd visit a neighborhood butcher who would give him big bones with small pieces of meat, and a grocer who would hand him some withered vegetables. That's all Joe needed to make his favorite soup. Another Village neighbor was a handsome young singer who ran a struggling restaurant. Rumor had it that if a customer ordered steak, the singer would dash to a supermarket across the street to buy one. His name was Harry Belafonte. People like Delaney and Belafonte became role models for me. I learned that you had to make sacrifices and live creatively to keep working at your dreams. That's what living in the Shadowland is all about. As I absorbed the lesson, I gradually began to sell my articles ,I was writing about what many people were talking about then: civil rights, black Americans and Africa. Soon, like birds flying south, my thoughts were drawn back to my childhood. In the silence of my room, I heard the voices of Grandma, Cousin Georgia , Aunt Plus, Aunt Liz and Aunt Till as they told stories about
 

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