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不购物的一年

更新时间:2017-12-28 20:21:18 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

My Year of No Shopping
不购物的一年

Nashville — The idea began in February 2009 over lunch with my friend Elissa, someone I like but rarely see. She walked into the restaurant wearing a fitted black coat with a high collar.

纳什维尔——这个想法始于2009年2月和朋友埃莉萨(Elissa)共进午餐的时候,我很喜欢她,但我们不常见面。她走进餐厅,穿着一件合身的高领黑色大衣。

“Wow,” I said admiringly. “Some coat.”

“哇,”我艳羡地说。“好漂亮的大衣。”

She stroked the sleeve. “Yeah. I bought it at the end of my no-shopping year. I still feel a little bad about it.”

她抚摸着袖子。“是啊。这是我在决定一年不购物快期满的时候买的。到现在还是觉得有点不舒服。”

Elissa told me the story: After traveling for much of the previous year, she had decided she had enough stuff, or too much stuff. She made a pledge that for 12 months she wouldn’t buy shoes, clothes, purses or jewelry.

埃莉萨告诉我来龙去脉:前一年她花了大部分时间旅行,然后觉得自己已经拥有足够多的东西,或者说太多的东西。她做出承诺,12个月内不会再买鞋子、衣服、包或珠宝。

I was impressed by her discipline, but she shrugged it off. “It wasn’t hard.”

她的自律令我动容,但她却耸耸肩。“这不难。”

I did some small-scale experiments of my own, giving up shopping for Lent for a few years. I was always surprised by how much better it made me feel. But it wasn’t until last New Year’s Day that I decided to follow my friend’s example.

我自己也做了一些小规模实验,有那么几年我放弃了大斋节购物。一直让我惊讶的是,这样做的感觉非常好。但是直到今年元旦,我才决定效法埃莉萨为榜样。

At the end of 2016, our country had swung in the direction of gold leaf, an ecstatic celebration of unfeeling billionaire-dom that kept me up at night. I couldn’t settle down to read or write, and in my anxiety I found myself mindlessly scrolling through two particular shopping websites, numbing my fears with pictures of shoes, clothes, purses and jewelry. I was trying to distract myself, but the distraction left me feeling worse, the way a late night in a bar smoking Winstons and drinking gin leaves you feeling worse. The unspoken question of shopping is “What do I need?” What I needed was less.

在2016年底,我们的国家倒向了浮华金箔的一方,那个冷漠无情的亿万富翁的狂欢庆祝让我彻夜难眠。我无法安下心来阅读或写作,焦虑之下,我发现自己在无意识中浏览了两个购物网站,用鞋子、衣服、包和珠宝的照片麻木自己的恐惧。我试图分散注意力,但分心让我感觉更糟,就像深夜时分在酒吧里抽温斯顿烟、喝杜松子酒会让你感觉更糟一样。在购物时,一个默认的问题是:“我需要什么?”我需要的是更少。

My plan had been to give up what Elissa gave up — things to wear — but a week into my no-shopping year, I bought a portable speaker. When I got it home I felt ridiculous. Shouldn’t “no shopping” include electronics?

我原本的计划是放弃埃莉萨所放弃的那些身上穿戴的东西——但是在决定一年内不购物之后,刚过了一个星期我就买了一个便携音箱。我把它带回家,觉得很可笑。“不购物”难道不应该包括电子产品吗?

I came up with my own arbitrary set of rules for the year. I wanted a plan that was serious but not so draconian that I would bail out in February, so while I couldn’t buy clothing or speakers, I could buy anything in the grocery store, including flowers. I could buy shampoo and printer cartridges and batteries but only after I’d run out of what I had. I could buy plane tickets and eat out in restaurants. I could buy books because I write books and I co-own a bookstore and books are my business. Could I have made it a full year without buying books? Absolutely. I could have used the library or read the books that were already in my house, but I didn’t; I bought books.

我为这一年制定了一套自己主观的规则。我想要一个严肃的计划,但也不会严厉到让我在2月份就会破坏它。所以,虽然我不能买衣服或者音箱,但在食品杂货店里的任何东西都可以买,包括鲜花;我可以买洗发水、打印机墨盒和电池,但是只有在用完了手头的东西之后才能买;我可以买机票,可以在餐厅吃饭;我可以买书,因为我写书,而且和他人共同拥有一家书店,书是我的事业。我可以在不买书的情况下过整整一年吗?绝对可以。我可以去图书馆看书,或者阅读家里已经有的书,但我没有这样做;我会买书。

Gifts were the tough one for me. I’m a gift-giver, and I could see how gift shopping could become an easy loophole. I decided to give books as gifts, but I didn’t always keep to it. My editor married in 2017, and I wasn’t about to give him a book as a wedding present. Still, the frantic shopping for others needed to come to a halt. The idea that our affection and esteem must manifest itself in yet another sweater is reductive. Elissa said she gave people time, a certificate to watch their kids or clean their house. “That,” she told me, “turned out to be the hardest thing. Time is so valuable.”

不买礼物对我来说是很难的。我喜欢送礼物,我可以看出,购买礼品会轻易成为我计划中的漏洞。我决定把书作为礼物,但我并不总是坚持这个规则。我的编辑在2017年结婚了,我不打算以一本书作为婚礼上的礼物。尽管如此,还是得暂时停止为他人疯狂购物。我们的感情和尊重必须通过多买一件卫衣而表达出来,这样的想法过于简单化了。埃莉萨说,她会把时间赠送给他人,答应帮他们照顾孩子或打扫房子。她告诉我,“这其实是最难的事情。时间是那样宝贵。”

I was raised Catholic and spent 12 years in a Catholic girls school. In the same way a child who grows up going to the symphony is more likely to enjoy classical music, and a child raised in a bilingual household is probably going to speak two languages, many children raised Catholic have a talent for self-denial. Even now my sister and I plan for Lent the way other people plan family vacations: What will we let go of? What good can we add?

我在天主教家庭中长大,在一所天主教女子学校里度过了12年。从小参加交响音乐会的孩子更有可能喜欢古典音乐,双语家庭长大的孩子很可能会说两种语言;同样,很多天主教家庭长大的孩子都有克己的天分。即使到了现在,我和姐姐还会像别人筹备家庭度假一样为大斋节做准备:我们要放弃什么?我们可以增添什么好的东西?

My first few months of no shopping were full of gleeful discoveries. I ran out of lip balm early on and before making a decision about whether lip balm constituted a need, I looked in my desk drawers and coat pockets. I found five lip balms. Once I started digging around under the bathroom sink I realized I could probably run this experiment for three more years before using up all the lotion, soap and dental floss. It turns out I hadn’t thrown away the hair products and face creams I’d bought over the years and didn’t like; I’d just tossed them all under the sink.

开始停止购物的最初几个月里,到处都是令人兴奋的发现。早先,我的润唇膏用完了,我没有仓促决定润唇膏是不是属于必须购买的物品,而是先检查了一下书桌抽屉和风衣口袋,结果找到了五支润唇膏。等到我开始在浴室水槽下面搜寻,才意识这个实验我还能再做三年,到时所有的乳液、肥皂和牙线也根本用不完。最后我发现,这么多年来,我买完又不喜欢的护发产品和面霜都没有扔掉;只是被丢在水槽下面了。

I’m using them now, and they’re fine.

我目前正在使用它们,用起来挺好的。

In March I wished I had a Fitbit, the new one that looked like a bracelet and didn’t need to be connected to a smartphone. For four days I really wanted a Fitbit. And then — poof! — I didn’t want one. I remember my parents trying to teach me this lesson when I was a child: If you want something, wait awhile. Chances are the feeling will pass.

3月份,我想买一个Fitbit智能手环,它看上去像是手镯,不需要连接到智能手机。有四天的时间里,我真的很想买。然后——突然一下子!——我就不想买了。我记得我小时候父母教过我:如果你想要什么东西,稍等一下。这种感觉很可能会过去的。

The trick of no shopping isn’t just that you don’t buy things. You don’t shop. That means no trawling the sale section of the J. Crew website in idle moments. It means the catalogs go into the recycle bin unopened on the theory that if I don’t see it, I don’t want it. Halfway through the year I could go to a store with my mother and sister if they asked me. I could tell them if the dress they were trying on looked good without wishing I could try it on myself.

不购物的诀窍不只是不买东西,而是不再浏览商品。这意味着不在闲暇时间浏览J. Crew网站的特价区;这意味着不打开商品目录就直接丢进垃圾箱,理由是:如果我不看它,我就不想要它。到了年中,如果妈妈和姐妹让我陪她们逛街,我会答应她们。我可以告诉她们,她们试穿的衣服是否好看,但我不会自己去试穿。

Not shopping saves an astonishing amount of time. In October, I interviewed Tom Hanks about his collection of short stories in front of 1,700 people in a Washington theater. Previously, I would have believed that such an occasion demanded a new dress and lost two days of my life looking for one. In fact, Tom Hanks had never seen any of my dresses, nor had the people in the audience. I went to my closet, picked out something weather appropriate and stuck it in my suitcase. Done.

不购物惊人地节省了大量时间。10月份,我在华盛顿的一家剧院,当着1700名观众就汤姆·汉克斯(Tom Hanks)的短篇小说集对他进行了采访。之前,我肯定会认为这样的场合需要一件新衣服,而我会花费生命中的两天时间去寻找合适的衣服。事实上,汤姆·汉克斯从未见过我的任何一件衣服,观众们也没见过。我走进衣橱,挑了一件适合当时天气的衣服,把它塞进行李箱。完事了。

I did a favor for a friend over the summer and she bought me a pair of tennis shoes. Her simple act of kindness thrilled me. Once I stopped looking for things to buy, I became tremendously grateful for the things I received. Had I been shopping this summer I would have told my friend, “You shouldn’t have,” and I would have meant it.

夏天,我给一个朋友帮了个忙,她给我买了一双网球鞋。她简单的善举让我兴奋不已。自从我不再寻找要买的东西,我就开始对收到的礼物报以万分感激。如果今年夏天我一直在购物,我会对那位朋友说,“你其实不用给我买”,而且肯定是真心的。

It doesn’t take so long for a craving to subside, be it for Winstons or gin or cupcakes. Once I got the hang of giving shopping up, it wasn’t much of a trick. The trickier part was living with the startling abundance that had become glaringly obvious when I stopped trying to get more. Once I could see what I already had, and what actually mattered, I was left with a feeling that was somewhere between sickened and humbled. When did I amass so many things, and did someone else need them?

现在,用不了多长时间,我就能平息自己的欲望,无论是温斯顿香烟、杜松子酒,还是纸杯蛋糕。一旦我掌握了放弃购物的窍门,那就不是什么难事了。更难的是生活在惊人的富足之中——当我不再试图获得更多东西时,这种富足就变得非常刺眼。一旦我能看到自己已经拥有的东西,以及真正重要的东西,我就会产生一种介于厌恶和惭愧之间的感觉。我是在什么时候积累了这么多东西?有没有其他人需要它们呢?

If you stop thinking about what you might want, it’s a whole lot easier to see what other people don’t have. There’s a reason that just about every religion regards material belongings as an impediment to peace. This is why Siddhartha had to leave his palace to become the Buddha. This is why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor.” It’s why my friend Sister Nena, an 85-year-old Catholic nun, took a vow of poverty when she entered the convent at 18.

一旦你停止思考自己可能想要什么,就会很容易发现其他人缺少什么。几乎每一种宗教都认为物质财富是通向平静的障碍,这是有原因的。所以悉达多必须离开皇宫才能成佛。所以耶稣说:“穷人是有福的。”所以我的朋友、85岁的修女尼娜(Nena)18岁进入修道院时发誓要保持贫穷。

Sister Nena was my reading teacher when I was in the first grade, and in the years since, she has taught me considerably more. When I ask her if there’s anything she needs me to get for her, she shakes her head. “It’s all just stuff,” she says, meaning all of the things that aren’t God. If you’re in the market for genuine inspiration on this front, I urge you to read “Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship,” by Gregory Boyle, a book that shows what the platitudes of faith look like when they’re put into action.

修女尼娜是我小学一年级时的阅读老师,在那之后的很多年里,她教会了我更多东西。我问她需要我给她些什么时,她摇了摇头。“那些都只是物质,”她说。她的意思是那些东西都不是上帝。如果你想在这方面获得真正的启发,我建议你读一读格雷戈里·博伊尔(Gregory Boyle)的《向唱诗班吠叫:强烈亲密关系的力量》(Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship),这本书展示了信仰的陈词滥调被付诸行动时的样子。

The things we buy and buy and buy are like a thick coat of Vaseline smeared on glass: We can see some shapes out there, light and dark, but in our constant craving for what we may still want, we miss life’s details. It’s not as if I kept a ledger and took the money I didn’t spend on perfume and gave that money to the poor, but I came to a better understanding of money as something we earn and spend and save for the things we want and need. Once I was able to get past the want and be honest about the need, it was easier to give more of my money to people who could really use it.

我们不停地买买买,就像在玻璃涂了一层厚厚的凡士林:我们能看到外面有一些明的、暗的形状,但我们在不断渴望自己还想要的东西时,错过了人生的细节。我并没有开始记账,没有把不买香水省下来的钱捐给穷人;但我对钱有了更深刻的理解,我们挣钱、花钱和攒钱都是为了得到自己想要和需要的东西。一旦我能克服自己的欲望,诚实地了解自己的需求,我就更容易把自己更多的钱送给那些真正需要它的人。

For the record, I still have more than plenty. I know there is a vast difference between not buying things and not being able to buy things. Not shopping for a year hardly makes me one with the poor, but it has put me on the path of figuring out what I can do to help. I understand that buying things is the backbone of the economy and job growth. I appreciate all the people who shop in the bookstore. But taking some time off from consumerism isn’t going to make the financial markets collapse. If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, I have to tell you: This one’s great.

在此声明,我依然很有钱。我知道不买东西和买不起东西有很大差别。一年不购物并没有把我变成穷人中的一员,但它让我开始思考我能做些什么去帮助别人。我明白,购物是经济和就业增长的支柱。我感激所有去书店买书的人。但是远离消费主义一段时间也不会导致金融市场崩溃。如果你正在寻找新年决心,我必须告诉你:这是个不错的决心。

What I still haven’t figured out is how the experiment ends. Do I just start shopping again? Shop less? I called Elissa. I hadn’t seen her in years. She told me that after she bought the black coat, she decided to re-up for another year.

我依然没弄明白的是,这个试验该如何结束。我是要重新开始购物吗?还是少购物一些呢?我给埃莉萨打了个电话。我有好几年没见她了。她告诉我,在买了那件黑色大衣后,她决定继续不购物一年。

“I realized I had too many decisions to make that were actually important,” she said. “There were people to help, things to do. Not shopping frees up a lot of space in your brain.”

“我意识到,我有太多真正重要的决定需要去做,”她说。“有很多人需要我的帮助,有很多事情需要我去做。不购物释放了大脑中的很多空间。”

So for now I’ll leave my pledge in place. Who knows how far I can go? In a country hellbent on selling us dresses and shirts with the shoulders cut out (though I like to think I wouldn’t have fallen for that one even if I had been shopping), it’s good to sit on the bench for a while. Or as the great social activist Dorothy Day liked to say, “The best thing to do with the best things in life is give them up.”

所以现在,我要保持我的誓言。谁知道我能走多远呢?在一个执意要把露肩连衣裙和衬衫卖给我们的国家(尽管我认为就算我一直在购物,也不会喜欢那种款式),在场外休息一会儿也挺好。或者就像伟大的社会活动家多萝西·戴(Dorothy Day)喜欢说的那样,“对于生命中最好的东西,最好的办法就是放弃它们。”

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