Chapter 5 How do we savor life’s bouquet?

第五章 如何欣賞生命的花朵

5. How do we savor life’s bouquet?

I find that one of the greatest conundrums that an educator faces is to how to reconcile the joyous and boisterous faces that you see on your students in a high school classroom with the desultory and seemingly embittered twenty-something-year-olds that sit on their scooters at a stop light or stand listlessly scrolling on their cell phones virtually everywhere else. The reason, “in a nutshell”: unrequited angst. They have not been given the tools to deal with an increasingly complex “universe” -- their universe. When I have been told all my life that these are the rules of “the game of life” and I work diligently and play the contest well and now this; I am allowed to be shocked and resentful, am I not? To stumble into a job interview that goes positively, only to receive a trifling bit of money and a laconic and nasty boss is, to say the least, earth-shattering. The look on their faces has already been painted by Van Gogh (1853-1890) in the Potato Eaters.1

Where do we go from here, is a more important question? “Where am I standing?” “You are standing right in front of me.” Of course, Sadhguru2 would say that is not the answer. In reality, I am standing inside of you. You have taken my image, through your optic nerves, into your own consciousness. There, your history and life experiences evaluate me. Whether you see me as fat or thin, tall or short, intelligent or stupid, is of your own creation -- your own construction. The problem is that you see yourself in the same way. You have not been given the tools to evaluate you as an entity, so to speak, functioning in the world. You are left to feel, upon graduation from university, like a leaf in a raging river: beautiful and resplendent, but with absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever. Many young people, I believe, are left to feel that this experience is unique to this generation. It is not: young people have been in a state of trepidation since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution3 if not before.

The secret, however, is to learn a set of skills to minimize the frustration. We need to assist everyone in the realization that you can only find your “true calling” through effort and intensity. Firstly, in high school, one must have a list of “My Gifts” -- what I am good at and what I am bad at. For example: I am very good at talking, but I am extremely shy. I realized when I was fifteen that if I ever wanted to speak publicly, it would be necessary to control this phenomenon. Then, upon graduation from university, you will be presented with three or four choices. You must then choose one, even if it subsequently proves to be the wrong choice, and act: Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule.4 It is only through concerted and long-term effort will you find your “true calling.” You must simply be honest with who you are.

I find that the greatest frustration each of us experiences is the knowledge that “I” exist. I am not 100% sure if you do, but I know that I do. We are then left to reconcile this realization with the day-to-day occurrences of life. Many people, I suspect, do not know that they are truly alive. They go through the motions of life -- its burps and blusters – but they have no real feeling for its God-given gift: a cadeau that is given, but once, in this reality. If anything, proportionately, more young people today know that they have consciousness than they did in previous generations. This is due to social media and good nutrition. In the end, if we keep pushing and encouraging, this generation will take its place as influential and earth-changing in world history.5

5. 如何欣賞生命的花朵

我發現令教育人員最感困惑的難題之一,就是調和兩個截然不同的景象:一頭是高中教室裡學生充滿歡樂、活潑愛玩的臉孔,另一頭是二十幾歲年輕人那種散漫又似乎心懷不滿的表情,不管是等紅燈的機車騎士,或到處可見無精打采站著滑手機的人。「概括地說」,這原因出在這些年輕人有無法達成願望的憂慮。他們沒有工具去處理這個愈來愈複雜的世界—他們的世界。當我們每個人自小被灌輸「人生的遊戲規則」,並且在這場人生的競賽中努力表現,可是到頭來卻是令人失望的結局。這樣的話,我有十足的理由感到震驚和憤怒,難道不是嗎?碰巧參加了一個求職面試而且表現不錯,但開始工作後卻領著一份微薄的薪水,上頭又有一位不太說話又很難相處的上司。這種結果至少可以說是令人感到震驚的。他們臉上的神情就如同梵谷《吃馬鈴薯的人》1畫中描繪的一樣。

更重要的問題是,了解上述的現象後,接下來我們該做什麼呢?「我此刻站在何處?」「你就站在我的面前。」當然,薩古魯2可能會說這不是正確的答案。事實上,我站在你的大腦裡面。你透過視覺神經,在你的意識中產生了我的影像,而你用你的過去和人生經驗來衡量我。無論在你眼中我是胖是瘦、是高是矮、是聰明或愚蠢,這都是你個人內心所建構的產物。問題是,你也用同樣的方式在衡量你自己。然而,你並沒有工具來衡量自己在這個世界上所發揮的功用。自大學畢業後,你就如一片葉子飄落在洶湧河水中,美麗、璀璨,但是卻完全不知將流向何方。我相信,有很多年輕人會認為這是他們這一代獨特的經驗,其實不是這樣的,自從工業革命3開始之後,年輕人都是一直處於這種不安的狀態。

而要把這種不安的挫折感降到最低的秘訣是學習一套技能。我們需要幫助每個人了解,唯有透過努力與全心投入,方能找到自己「真正的使命。」首先,在高中時期,每個人都應該列出「我的天份」—自己擅長的以及不擅長的項目是什麼。例如:我善於言談,但是非常害羞。我15歲時意識到,未來想在公開場合發言,就必須想辦法控制自己的害羞。接著,在大學畢業之後,你將有三到四個工作選項,你必須選擇其中一項,並且採取行動,哪怕以後發現這是個錯誤的選擇,如格拉德威爾的一萬小時法則4所說的。唯有透過長期專注的努力,你才有可能發現你「真正的使命」,但你必須坦誠面對自己,了解自己是什麼樣的人。

我發現每個人經歷過最大的挫折是認知到「自我」的存在。我無法百分之百確定你是否有過相同的感受,但我知道我有這樣的問題。我們生命中每天發生的種種事情,讓我們對於自我存在產生懷疑。我猜測,很多人都不知道他們真正活著。他們經歷了人生的高低起伏,但卻忽視上天賦予的禮物—生命,一輩子就這麼ㄧ次的人生。相較之下,現在有更多的年輕人比上一代了解自我意識的存在,那是因為社群媒體和營養充足的緣故。最後,若是我們持續努力與抱持希望,這個世代將會在世界歷史上發揮影響力與促成重大的改革。5