Life is short 中文译本

前言

这一篇是《黑客与画家》作者保罗·格雷厄姆的文章。刚开始尝试翻译,已经校了一遍,还需要打磨。翻译真是一件“苦差事”,哈哈,反复读,反复理解,还是觉得不满意。以前总是挑剔,这个这么简单,怎么译者都没有翻译准确。放到一整本书,那就更需要反复打磨很多遍了。

“生命短暂”,想要做的事情,就开始去做吧。不要等到某个特殊的时刻才开始。加油!

2020年3月15日
第一版发布
初春于南京

Life is Short

(January 2016 )

原文地址:http://www.paulgraham.com/vb.html

生命短暂

(2016 年 1 月)

Life is short, as everyone knows. When I was a kid I used to wonder about this. Is life actually short, or are we really complaining about its finiteness? Would we be just as likely to feel life was short if we lived 10 times as long?

众所周知,生命是短暂的。当我还是孩子的时候,我常常对此感到疑惑。是生命真的短暂,还是我们在抱怨它的有限?如果寿命延长10倍,我们是否还会觉得生命短暂呢?

Since there didn't seem any way to answer this question, I stopped wondering about it. Then I had kids. That gave me a way to answer the question, and the answer is that life actually is short.

既然似乎没办法回答,我也就不再想它了。后来我有了孩子,我知道怎么回答这个问题了。答案是,生命真的是短暂的。

Having kids showed me how to convert a continuous quantity, time, into discrete quantities. You only get 52 weekends with your 2 year old. If Christmas-as-magic lasts from say ages 3 to 10, you only get to watch your child experience it 8 times. And while it's impossible to say what is a lot or a little of a continuous quantity like time, 8 is not a lot of something. If you had a handful of 8 peanuts, or a shelf of 8 books to choose from, the quantity would definitely seem limited, no matter what your lifespan was.

有了孩子,我学会了如何将时间这个连续的数量转换成离散的数量。你只有52个周末与你2岁的宝贝相处。如果圣诞节的魔法可以从3岁持续到10岁,你也只能和你的孩子体验8次。对于像时间这类连续的概念,我们不能说它是多还是少,但8的确不是很多。如果你有8个花生,或者8本书,不管你寿命如何,这个数量肯定都是有限的。

Ok, so life actually is short. Does it make any difference to know that?

好吧,生命真的很短。知道这一点,有什么意义吗?

It has for me. It means arguments of the form "Life is too short for x" have great force. It's not just a figure of speech to say that life is too short for something. It's not just a synonym for annoying. If you find yourself thinking that life is too short for something, you should try to eliminate it if you can.

对我而言这有意义。它意味着像"对x来说,生命太短暂"的参数很关键。说生命对于某事来说太短暂不只是打一个比方,它也不是令人厌烦的同义词。如果你发现自己想要做某事但时间不够。如果可能的话,你应该试着不去做这件事。

When I ask myself what I've found life is too short for, the word that pops into my head is "bullshit." I realize that answer is somewhat tautological. It's almost the definition of bullshit that it's the stuff that life is too short for. And yet bullshit does have a distinctive character. There's something fake about it. It's the junk food of experience. (1)

当我问自己,我发现了什么事是生命太短以至于我不能做的,突然出现在我脑海中的词是"狗屁事情"。我意识到这答案似乎有点重复或者说啰嗦。这几乎是“狗屁事情”的定义,它本身就是指生命太短我们不能去做的东西。然而,“狗屁事情”确实有独特之处。它有欺骗性,就好比“垃圾食品”。 (这一段翻得不是很好,回头再继续修改。bullshit翻译成“无意义之事”会不会更好) (尾注1)

If you ask yourself what you spend your time on that's bullshit, you probably already know the answer. Unnecessary meetings, pointless disputes, bureaucracy, posturing, dealing with other people's mistakes, traffic jams, addictive but unrewarding pastimes.

如果你问自己把时间花在了哪些不必要的“狗屁事情”上,答案可能你已经知道。不必要的会议,毫无意义的争吵,官僚主义,故作姿态,处理别人的错误,交通堵塞,上瘾但无回报的消遣。

There are two ways this kind of thing gets into your life: it's either forced on you, or it tricks you. To some extent you have to put up with the bullshit forced on you by circumstances. You need to make money, and making money consists mostly of errands. Indeed, the law of supply and demand insures that: the more rewarding some kind of work is, the cheaper people will do it. It may be that less bullshit is forced on you than you think, though. There has always been a stream of people who opt out of the default grind and go live somewhere where opportunities are fewer in the conventional sense, but life feels more authentic. This could become more common.

这种无意义的“狗屁事情”进入你的生活有两种方式:要么强迫你,要么欺骗你。在某种程度上,你必须忍受环境所强加给你的“狗屁事情”。你需要赚钱,而赚钱大多数时候就要完成各种的“苦差事”。事实上,供求规律决定了:一种工作的回报越多,人们就越会不计报酬这样做。不过,这时你可能遇到比你想象数量要少的“狗屁事情”。总是有一些人选择退出这样的环境,去一个传统意义上机会较少的地方生活,但生活更真实的地方。这样的做法可能会更普遍。

You can do it on a smaller scale without moving. The amount of time you have to spend on bullshit varies between employers. Most large organizations (and many small ones) are steeped in it. But if you consciously prioritize bullshit avoidance over other factors like money and prestige, you can probably find employers that will waste less of your time.

您可以在一定程度上实现这一点而无需搬家。你花在“狗屁事情”上的时间因雇主而异。大多数大型组织(和许多小型组织)都乐在其中。但是,如果你有意识地把避免“狗屁事情”放在金钱和声望等其他因素之上,你可能会找到更少浪费你时间的雇主。

If you're a freelancer or a small company, you can do this at the level of individual customers. If you fire or avoid toxic customers, you can decrease the amount of bullshit in your life by more than you decrease your income.

如果您是自由职业者或者在经营小公司,您可以通过甄别客户来避免浪费时间。如果你解雇或避开“有毒客户”,你一生中的“狗屁事情”数量会减少,并且你的收入不会减少很多。

But while some amount of bullshit is inevitably forced on you, the bullshit that sneaks into your life by tricking you is no one's fault but your own. And yet the bullshit you choose may be harder to eliminate than the bullshit that's forced on you. Things that lure you into wasting your time have to be really good at tricking you. An example that will be familiar to a lot of people is arguing online. When someone contradicts you, they're in a sense attacking you. Sometimes pretty overtly. Your instinct when attacked is to defend yourself. But like a lot of instincts, this one wasn't designed for the world we now live in. Counterintuitive as it feels, it's better most of the time not to defend yourself. Otherwise these people are literally taking your life. (2)

虽然一些“狗屁事情”是不可避免强加给你的,但是通过欺骗手段进入你生活的“狗屁事情”不是其他人的错,而是你自己的错。你主动选择的“狗屁事情”可能比强加给你的“狗屁事情”更难消除。吸引你浪费时间的事情非常善于欺骗你。很多人熟悉的一个例子是在网上争论。当有人批驳你时,他们从某种意义上说就是在攻击你。有时相当明显。你被攻击时本能上就会去保护自己。但是,像许多本能一样,它不是为我们现在生活的世界设计的。尽管感觉有悖常理,但大多数时候最好不要为自己辩护。否则,这些人会真的“夺走”你的生命。(2)

Arguing online is only incidentally addictive. There are more dangerous things than that. As I've written before, one byproduct of technical progress is that things we like tend to become more addictive. Which means we will increasingly have to make a conscious effort to avoid addictions — to stand outside ourselves and ask "is this how I want to be spending my time?"

在线争吵只是碰巧让人成瘾。有更多比这还容易让人上瘾的事情。像我以前提到的,科技进步的一个副产品就是,各种产品都让我们更容易上瘾。这意味着我们必须花费更多努力来避免上瘾——我们需要审视我们自己并自问:“我真的想这样利用时间吗”?

As well as avoiding bullshit, one should actively seek out things that matter. But different things matter to different people, and most have to learn what matters to them. A few are lucky and realize early on that they love math or taking care of animals or writing, and then figure out a way to spend a lot of time doing it. But most people start out with a life that's a mix of things that matter and things that don't, and only gradually learn to distinguish between them.

和避免“狗屁事情”一样,人们要积极的寻找对自己而言重要的事情。但是对每个人,重要的事情都不同,人们也需要学习到底什么是他们的重要事情。少数人很幸运,他们很早就意识到自己喜欢数学或者照顾小动物,并且花费很多时间在上面。但是多数人的生活都混杂了很多有用和无用的事情,只有慢慢的才学会区别它们。

For the young especially, much of this confusion is induced by the artificial situations they find themselves in. In middle school and high school, what the other kids think of you seems the most important thing in the world. But when you ask adults what they got wrong at that age, nearly all say they cared too much what other kids thought of them.

对于年轻人而言,这种困惑很大程度是由于他们周遭环境引起的。在中学和高中,其他孩子对你的看法似乎是世界上最重要的事情。 但是,当你问大人,他们在那个年龄有什么经验教训时,几乎所有人都说他们那时太在意其他孩子对他们的看法。

One heuristic for distinguishing stuff that matters is to ask yourself whether you'll care about it in the future. Fake stuff that matters usually has a sharp peak of seeming to matter. That's how it tricks you. The area under the curve is small, but its shape jabs into your consciousness like a pin.

确认事情是否重要的一种启发式方法,就是问问自己未来是否还会重视它。 看起来重要的东西通常会像峰值曲线一样,让你觉得很重要。 那是它在欺骗你。 曲线下的面积其实很小,但它的形状像大头针一样刺激着你的神经。

The things that matter aren't necessarily the ones people would call "important." Having coffee with a friend matters. You won't feel later like that was a waste of time.

对我们有意义的事情不一定是人们通常认为“重要”的事情。 和朋友一起喝咖啡也很重要, 因为您以后并不会觉得是在浪费时间。

One great thing about having small children is that they make you spend time on things that matter: them. They grab your sleeve as you're staring at your phone and say "will you play with me?" And odds are that is in fact the bullshit-minimizing option.

生小孩的一大好处是,他们会让您将时间花在重要的事情上:他们。 当您凝视手机时,他们抓住你的袖子,说:“能和我一起玩吗?” 实际上,这是避免“狗屁事情”的最佳选择。

If life is short, we should expect its shortness to take us by surprise. And that is just what tends to happen. You take things for granted, and then they're gone. You think you can always write that book, or climb that mountain, or whatever, and then you realize the window has closed. The saddest windows close when other people die. Their lives are short too. After my mother died, I wished I'd spent more time with her. I lived as if she'd always be there. And in her typical quiet way she encouraged that illusion. But an illusion it was. I think a lot of people make the same mistake I did.

如果生命短暂,我们应该期待生命的短暂带给我们的惊讶。 而这也正是将会发生的。 你认为理所当然的事情,突然就消失了。 您认为您总是可以写本书,或者爬座山,或者做其他事,然后就意识到,“机会之窗”已经关了。 当你周围的人死亡时,那扇最可悲的“机会之窗”也会关闭。 他们的生命其实也很短暂。 我母亲去世后,我真希望我能和她在一起多待一些时光。那之后,我感觉好像她永远都在那里, 并且母亲也以她惯有的安静方式鼓励了我的这种幻想。 但是那毕竟是一种幻想。 我认为,很多人都犯了和我相同的错误。

The usual way to avoid being taken by surprise by something is to be consciously aware of it. Back when life was more precarious, people used to be aware of death to a degree that would now seem a bit morbid. I'm not sure why, but it doesn't seem the right answer to be constantly reminding oneself of the grim reaper hovering at everyone's shoulder. Perhaps a better solution is to look at the problem from the other end. Cultivate a habit of impatience about the things you most want to do. Don't wait before climbing that mountain or writing that book or visiting your mother. You don't need to be constantly reminding yourself why you shouldn't wait. Just don't wait.

避免被某些事物吓到的通常方法是有意识地意识到这一点。 在生活更不稳定的时代,人们对待死亡的态度现在看起来似乎有些病态。 我不确定为什么,但是不断提醒自己死神徘徊在每个人的肩膀上,似乎不是正确的答案。 也许更好的解决方案是从另一个角度来看问题。 养成想做的事情“立刻去做”的习惯。 不再等待有机会再去爬山,或写书,或去看望母亲。 您无需经常提醒自己为什么不应该等待。 别等待就对了。

I can think of two more things one does when one doesn't have much of something: try to get more of it, and savor what one has. Both make sense here.

我想到没有太多东西时可以做的两件事:尝试获取更多东西,或者仔细品味拥有的东西。 两者都有意义。

How you live affects how long you live. Most people could do better. Me among them.

您怎么生活会影响您的寿命。 大多数人可以做得更好。 我也是。

But you can probably get even more effect by paying closer attention to the time you have. It's easy to let the days rush by. The "flow" that imaginative people love so much has a darker cousin that prevents you from pausing to savor life amid the daily slurry of errands and alarms. One of the most striking things I've read was not in a book, but the title of one: James Salter's Burning the Days.

但是,更关注自己的时间开销,您可能会获得更大的效果。 让日子匆匆过去很容易。 富有想象力的人们如此喜欢的“流水”状态像一个黑暗精灵,让你不能在日常的差事和警报中停下来品尝生活。 我读过的最让人震惊的,不是在一本书里,而是一本书的标题:詹姆斯·索尔特的《燃烧的日子》。 (译者注:darker cousin是指dark cousin电影吗)

It is possible to slow time somewhat. I've gotten better at it. Kids help. When you have small children, there are a lot of moments so perfect that you can't help noticing.

让时间变慢,在一定程度上是可能的。 这方面我做得挺好。孩子们给了我帮助。 当您有小宝贝时,一定有很多美好的时光,是您不会错过的。

It does help too to feel that you've squeezed everything out of some experience. The reason I'm sad about my mother is not just that I miss her but that I think of all the things we could have done that we didn't. My oldest son will be 7 soon. And while I miss the 3 year old version of him, I at least don't have any regrets over what might have been. We had the best time a daddy and a 3 year old ever had.

从过往的经验中获得了经验,这也会对你有帮助。 想起母亲时,我感到难过的原因不仅在于我想念她,还在于我想到我们原本可以做很多事情,但我们却没有做过。 我的大儿子快七岁了。 当我想念他3岁的样子时,我至少没有任何遗憾。 我们度过了一个父亲和三岁孩子应有的最佳时光。

Relentlessly prune bullshit, don't wait to do things that matter, and savor the time you have. That's what you do when life is short.

不停地想方设法避免“光阴虚度”,不要等待机会才去做有意义的事情,而是享受自己的时间。 这就是生命短暂时我们应有的态度。

Notes

备注:

1 At first I didn't like it that the word that came to mind was one that had other meanings. But then I realized the other meanings are fairly closely related. Bullshit in the sense of things you waste your time on is a lot like intellectual bullshit.

1 起初,我不喜欢想到的这个词还有其他含义。 但是后来我意识到其他含义和主题也是密切相关的。 在浪费时间的这个意义上,“废话”也像智力上的胡话。

2 I chose this example deliberately as a note to self. I get attacked a lot online. People tell the craziest lies about me. And I have so far done a pretty mediocre job of suppressing the natural human inclination to say "Hey, that's not true!"

2 我故意选择这个例子作为对自己的提醒。 我在网上受到了很多攻击。 人们说了很多关于我的疯狂的谎言。 到目前为止,我做的只是刚刚及格,基本保持了克制并尽量不去冲动的回应:“嘿,那不是真的!”

Thanks to Jessica Livingston and Geoff Ralston for reading drafts of this.

感谢Jessica Livingston和Geoff Ralston阅读了这份草稿。

译者注:

1、Toxic Customers的翻译,刚开始翻译为有毒客户。后来查了一下,这一篇给出了5点toxic customers的画像。大意是不再使用你产品的、或者不接受意见的、或者唆使你的员工做违法事情的、或者不愿意正常付费的、或者无端指责某一员工的客户。暂且译为“挑剔客户”。

2、对于Bullshit 的翻译,开始译为“废话”,总是觉得不传神。后来还是改为了“狗屁事情”。