2012-06-21 10:06




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By Sophie / 阑珊 注

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the value of work and how it relates to the so-called “purpose” of life, if we can really call it that. My mom and I have had many lengthy discussions on why it is important to have obstacles in the course of one’s life in order to feel like one has had a meaningful existence.[2] I have been fortunate enough to have been born to two intelligent individuals who have strived to make a difference in the world. Consequently, I have been able to live comfortably off of their hard work and accomplishments. As a result, I have been able to attend a wonderful school without any financial worries that may prevent others from having the same privilege. The gift my parents have given me is the opportunity to receive a fantastic education, but it is up to me to make my own decisions and work hard after that.[3]

One of my friends here at school is very wealthy. Her father is a hedge fund manager on Wall Street, and quite obviously makes a substantial amount of income each year.[4] She told me that when she turns 30, she is set to receive a very hefty trust fund from her family.[5] I thought about this for a while, and eventually I decided that this is one of the worst things a parent can do for their children. Essentially, I think he is denying her the ability to motivate herself into creating her own identity and path separate from her parents. As my mom told me, the reason why video games are fun is the obstacles you have to overcome to get to the next level. Sometimes you fail, but you always want to try again. Similarly, life is meaningful when you have something to achieve and work for. My parents started out with very little, but they continued working hard because they believed that there was always something to work for. I think this type of hope is essential to human life, and to deny your child that right is ruining their life. Of course, my friend can always choose not to use that trust fund—but at this age, it is far easier to choose what we think is the “comfortable” path and make wrong decisions. And, it is never the same when you know you have a squashy trust fund to fall back upon when you fail.[6]

Human life is defined by experience and the social connections you make. The value of life isn’t in breathing and functioning. Although this might seem like a rather ill-conceived example, I always thought that the purpose of the dementors in Harry Potter illustrated this concept quite well.[7] The Dementor’s Kiss is described to be “worse than death” because the dementor sucks out your soul, leaving you to be an empty shell of a human. Thus, the soul is what matters the most—and the soul can only be created through the experience of life itself. And I think if you take the ability for someone to truly experience all of the hardships and happiness that comes with overcoming those respective hardships, you are denying them a bit of their soul. And no matter what they do, they will never be one-hundred percent happy.

We’ve seen so many examples where celebrities have completely fallen off the wheel due to their hard-partying lifestyles as a result of the money they have to burn.[8] Young celebrities, in particular, are especially prone to this trap.[9] If you take the hardships of life away and replace it with buckets and buckets of money, people become bored and seek other thrills for stimulation—and in many cases, that stimulation comes in the form of artificial injections, such as drugs and alcohol.[10] Self-medication ends up being the cure, and, very ironically, their demise.[11]

Last week, I watched a movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi[12]. It documents the backstory of one of the most famous sushi chefs in the world, Jiro Ono. Jiro is now 86 years old, yet continues to work each day, unfailingly[13] striving for ultimate perfection. A few years ago, he received the perfect rating of three Michelin stars, becoming the first restaurant of its kind to be bestowed with that honor.[14] Yet, he still continues to improve his technique day by day. Of course, this kind of work ethic is most likely unmatchable, but it is still inspiring to see that that type of hope and motivation exists in people. The biggest woe[15] that Jiro will have is that four Michelin stars will never exist. As he said himself in the movie, he will always aim to reach the top. The trouble is: who really knows where the top is?

It’s quite possible that my opinion here is fairly limited, or maybe naive[16], since I don’t have the experience that many much older and wiser than I do. These past weeks I have been studying very hard for my upcoming[17] tests and, like any person my age, have been complaining. But after having a good, long conversation with my mom, I realize that there is a reason why I complain yet don’t quit—because I know that there is something to work for. Even though at times I may dislike working, I will never have the desire to quit.


1. epiphany: 事物本质的突然显露,对事物真谛的顿悟。

2. lengthy: 长的,漫长的;obstacle: 障碍。

3. fantastic: 极好的,极出色的;be up to sb.: 取决于某人。

4. hedge fund manager: 对冲基金经理;Wall Street: 华尔街,纽约市曼哈顿区南部从百老汇路延伸到东河的一条大街道的名字,以“美国的金融中心”闻名于世;substantial: 大量的,可观的。

5. hefty: 大量的;trust fund: 信托基金,托管基金。

6. squashy: 熟透的,此处用比喻义;fall back upon: 依靠。

7. 尽管这可能像是一个相当错误的例子——我经常想《哈利•波特》里摄魂怪的作用将这个观念阐释得非常好。Dementor: 摄魂怪,出自《哈利•波特与阿兹卡班的囚徒》,是一种生物,披着一件斗篷,像水里泡烂了一样,有着结痂的手掌,全身腐烂了一样。凡是此物经过的地方让人想起最可怕的事,并且其兜帽下面的“嘴”会吸去人们的灵魂。

8. 我们已看过太多的例子:由于必须烧钱而导致的寻欢作乐的生活方式,那些名人们已经完全脱轨了。

9. prone to: 易于……;trap: 陷阱。

10. bucket: 桶;thrill: 兴奋,激动;stimulation: 刺激;artificial: 人为的,人工的;injection: 注射, 注入。

11. self-medication: 自我药疗;demise: 死亡。

12. Jiro Dreams of Sushi: 影片《寿司之神》,2011年出品的纪录片,记述“寿司第一人”小野二郎的真实故事。

13. unfailingly: 无穷尽地,不倦地。

14. three Michelin stars: 米其林三星,是其对餐厅评级的最高级(“轮胎业巨擘”米其林公司于1900年发行的红色小册子《米其林指南》是一百多年来销量最大、收录最齐全的全球一流餐馆、旅馆大全年鉴,目前在全球超过7亿的发行量,众多大厨把赢得米其林星作为毕生追求);bestow: 赠给,授予。

15. woe: 哀愁,苦恼。

16. naive: 幼稚的,天真的。

17. upcoming: 即将来到的。

(来源:英语学习杂志 编辑:中国日报网英语点津 陈丹妮)



















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