There is a deep wound in your body, and it’s bleeding quietly. Nothing you can do about it other than asking yourself, why, again, did you give the permission for someone to cut it open, the softest little patch in your heart. The bleeding will stop eventually, as it always does. Every open wound will find a way to seal itself. It’s only a matter of time, people say. It’s also the shape and size of the scar. You can’t remember how many times you’ve failed to make it work. The disappointment is an old news, you are shattered, not surprised. You light up a cigarette, you open a bottle, you order some chicken nuggets, you listen to sentimental songs. The first stage of a routine process. It didn’t even work that well, just the only way you know how to react. You make an attempt to cry and you did. It doesn’t last long and your eyes dry quickly. You give it another try but there comes no more. You remember now you are not 23 anymore, your sadness has lost its density and become watery. Sadness used to feel more exciting, now it just makes you impatient. You broadcast it on social media and block random people from viewing it and eventually you get bored of that too. You sit in front of the piano only to find that there’s no song you can play to your mood. You walk out of the apartment and you walk like there’s no end to the road, taken by a desperation for the mechanical movement. You wish you could go on forever, till it drains the last drop of oil in you. You think of the hairy crab you had last weekend and how much you enjoyed it and how disgusted it made someone. Their death seems more validated now that the person who belittled you for eating hairy crab is no longer a standing threat. There is always a silver lining to a shitty situation and hairy crab is yours. You defended the honour of hairy crabs against the odds of love, even though that wasn’t your intention. Or maybe it was, maybe you care about hairy crab more than you care about your most innocent fantasies about human beings. How pathetic it would be if that was the case. There are easily a dozen of discrepancies that could help you put your loss into perspective and make it seem like a bliss in disguise but really, what good is that. A loss is a loss. A hurt is a hurt. It has happened and nothing you do can undo it. You own it, bite it, shove it up your ass and keep carrying on. On your walk you saw people with their dogs, baby trolleys, big objects that occupy their attentions. In a split of second you wish there was something like that in your life, anything, that would mercilessly take your priority away from yourself. There is nothing. Nothing but your empty water bottle, your health app recording your steps and reminding you of the sex you had eight days ago, your low-battery headphones playing songs of artists you can’t care to pronounce. There is not even moon. You search every corner in the sky but there is no sight of it. You feel exhausted suddenly and can’t wait to be back to your bed, curl into a ball, make it all stop. You wish to have your eyes closed and imagine a moon behind the clouds. There must be a moon behind the clouds. There is always a moon behind the clouds. It’s just one of those nights, a moonless night.
After writing down the title, the classic short story of Raymond Carver inevitable came upon me — What do we talk about when we talk about love.
In the past year or so, my opinion and feeling of the love subject have gone through some substantial changes. It doesn’t mean there’s a 180 degree sharp turn kind of shift of view, nor does it mean the denial of the past self, however, I could indeed feel that, a flow of change on the fundamental level has happened inside me. If it has to be put into text in a however inaccurate form, I guess it can be said that, love is no longer the center of my life. This is not an acknowledgement that comes like an epiphany moment, and it certainly is not some kind of stress reaction after a traumatizing event. It comes more like a renewed self appraisal, supplemented by experience over the years.
Since I was little, I’ve been more interested in love than in any other subject. The idea of romance fascinated me. It is fair to say, in the first 30 years of my life, I was always someone who lives to love and thinks of love as the most profound quest. If “being in love” is an option in the specialty category just like “piano” or “badminton”, I could have ticked that box without any hesitation. I might not be the most talented one, but from the depth of experience, I should at least be recognized for my assiduity.
Given that, with one after another relationship started, ended, passed, having gone through the highs and the lows and eventually the neutral land, looking back, I realize I still cant say I’ve got love figured out. At most I can say, I think I have experienced love; and if I have to describe it at my best attempt, love is perhaps this strong silent traction that leads you to go through an unknown passage, it flickers, you don’t have a clear vision, but you can’t help but go forward.
I don’t think I’ve got love quite figured out becoz, if one day I met this kind of traction again, I would probably still just follow it into another passage, clueless yet without a second thought; after the traction is faded, I would very likely end up back at the same original spot like the previous times, left with myself and a silent sigh. But in the process of repeatedly screwing up and losing someone, I did gain something. Over the years that I tried to figure love out and failed, I unexpectedly figured out some other things. For example — the thing worse than losing a relationship is losing oneself; the thing more important than finding “the one” is understanding yourself; and the thing that probably means more than acquiring love, is being able to give love.
It’s only until my most recent relationship has ended, I realized in hindsight that in all these years, I was mostly busy chasing the feeling of love, of falling in love, but rarely truly practised love. The feeling of love, is falling, is surreal, is out of balance; it’s driven by desire, the instinct of grabbing tight. While what love truly is, in my limited understanding and livelong meditation, is perhaps growing together, nurturing one another; it doesn’t necessarily concern ownership, it’s a stream of warm current you’re willing to protect even at the price of sustaining solitude; it’s a lingering strength, a grant of freedom.
When we talk about love, a frequently asked question is “do you believe in love.” This is indeed thoroughly misleading. Fundamentally, love is an unidentifiable feeling. A thousand people would have a thousand feelings of love. In the absence of a universal definition, to question repetitively if one believes in love serves very little purpose. The full version of “do you believe in love?” is actually “do you believe that love will happen on you?” We cannot control love, but we can control ourselves to some extent. Hence, about love, there’s only one question worth asking — do you deserve love?
Whatever one’s ideal version of love is, one should make sure one is being it and well-worth it in the first place. If you want tremendous love, develop an interesting soul; if you want mellow love, be healthy and positive; if you want understanding love, learn to listen and respect; if you want freedom in love, start to give freedom; if you don’t want to lose yourself in love, grow a stronger root of your “self”. If love, after all, is just damn luck, then the least one can do is to earn the ticket to be in that damn lucky draw.
I reckon this is also why I’m taking love more lightly — it’s not that I stop caring or stop wanting it, it’s that besides learning the limitation and randomness of love, I’ve also learned that, the quest of love doesn’t happen in the sea of people. The quest of love, is essentially, the quest of oneself.
Translated/Rewritten from the below original piece in Chinese I wrote on Feb 14 2019:
从年纪很小的时候开始，我就是一个对爱情的兴趣大于对生命本身的兴趣的人。爱情令我着迷，可以说在30岁以前，我都是一个为爱活着，以爱为最高追求的人。如果说“谈恋爱”跟“钢琴”、“羽毛球”之辈一样，也是特长中的一个选项，我想我可以毫不犹豫地打勾 — — 即便不算天赋秉异，从经验值评判，怎么也是个刻苦型选手。而即使如此，一段段恋爱开始了，结束了，过去了，快乐过，伤心过，平静了，仔细回想，竟好像至今也仍然没有弄懂爱情是怎么一回事。我只能说，我好像经历过爱情这一回事，如果非要形容，大概是一种无声却强大的引力，一旦遇上，便只能顺着它的方向过去，忽暗忽明，情不自禁。没有弄懂，是因为我想如果这个力量再次发生，恐怕还是会稀里糊涂地跟着它走，最后搞不好也是落得个愣在原地一声叹息的结局（当然也欢迎其他结局）。但是在这个不断搞砸、失去的过程中，我也并非一无所获。在尝试弄懂爱情却依然一头雾水的这些年里，我意外地弄懂了另一些事，比如说，比失去一段感情更糟糕的，是丢失自己；比找到真爱更重要的，是了解自己；比得到爱更重要的，是给予爱。
我想这也是为什么我开始对爱情看得越来越“轻” — — 并不是不再在意或不再渴望，而是在了解到爱情的局限性和偶然性之外，我更明白了，寻觅爱情的过程，其实并不是发生在茫茫人海中，对爱情的追求，从本质而言，即是对自我的寻觅。
Feel a bit sad tonight as I was criticized by someone as “being too smart to take my future serious.” I felt embarrassed at this argument, a bit irritated even, but couldn’t come up with anything to return the favor. After all, it’s a lot to take on when you receive accusation and flattery at the same time in one sentence.
In this world, one can be artless or sophisticated, idealistic or realistic. It’s all plainly a personal choice.
Of course I know my own shit. And as reluctant as I want to admit that, most of the time I feel helpless tired of my slothfulness and negativity. And I gradually grow tired of preaching to people my pessimism theory, for nothing is remotely convincing when it needs to be preached.
I guess I will leave nothing behind me eventually. Everything about me, my absurdity and anger, my affection and ambition, my happiness and obsessiveness…will all be washed away by the relentless time, except for some limited trace of struggles.
如果说这么多次的”逃离”教会了我什么，就是逃离终究是毫无帮助。你获得短暂的快感，然后再将每一个所至之处变成下一个等待被逃离的标矢。或许也有人像我一样，在年纪轻轻的时候受到milan kundera的蛊惑，将life is elsewhere看作教条来信奉。事实上昆德拉没有错，只是句子的后一半远不如前一半那样如雷贯耳。life is elsewhere, and there’s nowhere else. （生活在别处，而别处并不存在。）
曾经是她告诉我：I don’t do ONS。也是她告诉我，love like you’ve never been hurt. 看着她几次在感情里受伤，也像痛在自己身上。我问她，真的不想再有稳定的感情关系吗，她反问，结局会有什么不同么。
The other day I helped a friend translate some paragraphs of Wang Xiaobo’s work. I used to think translating as the most tedious job on earth and I would never have the patience to do that. But now I realized translating the works that you really admire for is a great pleasure, a bliss, also a very efficient way to learn and improve the translator’s own writing.
I’m thinking about doing it from time to time in the future. : ) Below is what I’ve done.
One day I went to help my friend moving. I dressed shabby on purpose for I knew I would be doing heavy works. As expected, I came back with some dirt on my forehead, a stained shirt, and some extra clumsiness for lifting refrigerator the whole day. Along with my innately dark face, I looked perfectly like an “extra-provincial man who just arrived in Beijing”. Wearing this image as I took a bus home, both the bus conductor and passengers glanced at me in a way that they didn’t even bother to hide their disapproval of my presence. Dejectedly distracted by those unfriendly gazes, I bumped into someone as I walked back home. Before my apology could slip out of the lips, I was yelled into the face that “Haven’t you got your eyes?!” The language got even more offensive then, I guess I’d better leave out the worst part here. I quickly sloped off getting too afraid to say a word.
I would be fooling you if I said I got so resentful that the next day I rode a tricycle onto the street to sell breakfast carrying a honeycomb stove and a bucket of dirty water. But I do feel it, the causation that if others show no respect to me, I am unable to respect them either. If everyone else kept looking and yelling at me that way, I would literally be doing however awful things.
What I’m saying is, if one is able to feel the dignity of being an individual in both living condition and interpersonal relations, one would act decently in accord with the standard of a dignified man; otherwise, it would be ineluctable for one to behave in an undignified way, which eventually will turn one into a villain.
Can I have a cigarette? I’ll pay you.
It’s ok, you don’t need to pay me
或者仅仅是just had a really bad day that can use an emergent smoke