A lonely distance – 孤独的距离 – English

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Maybe a short-term separation could lead to a sense of “beauty created by distance”, but a long-term one is destined to let the beauty evaporate. We have to admit the fact that physical distance would undoubtedly bring about a sense of emotional distance. This is true for friends, and even so for families, with no exception.

In the blink of an eye, I have been away from homeland for almost three years. From the first step on this alien land, to building relationships gradually, sharing experiences together, after graduation, when they mostly returned to their own home country, following their own paths, we barely had any contact, as time passed. Despite the advances in technology, the conveniences of WeChat, after all, it is difficult to span the geographical gap. When I occasionally muster up courage to contact used-to-be classmates and close friends, conversations came to an end shortly, after some brief exchange of greetings.

When I heard about the terrorist attacks in London, I immediately thought of my classmates in English. I sent them a concerned message on WeChat, and they replied politely: ‘Thanks for thinking of me.’ With my friends in China, for the smallest favour, we’ll send a million thank you’s, and that makes you feel very far from each other. The words of a gong by Luo Dayou come to mind: ‘We’re only more polite with friends because we see them less.’ Every new courteous word makes you feel the loss of closeness. I put on my optimistic hat and comfort myself that getting an answer is always better than getting coldly ignored. After all, there is a lot of concerned messages that cross a thousand miles and never receive an answer. And there is a lot of sincere good wishes that never get delivered, because the other person has already unfriended you.

At first, I thought it was just because we were in different countries, and there was too much distance between us. But I gradually realised that even in the same city, it’s completely possible to never see each other until you die, or unless you need a favour. It’s not just like that overseas, it’s also like that in China. But there’s fewer good friends overseas, the nightlife is more boring, and there’s not many people who bother to organise something: that’s why it’s more lonely. In fact, it’s not hard to understand, 远水不解近火,and there are things that it’s pointless to say, so you don’t say them. And so as time passes, you no longer know where to start.

毕竟随着年龄增加,大家都变得日益繁忙。有工作的压力,有家庭的职责,有时真地不是不想交流,而是时间不允许。一个亲戚跟我讲,他到读大学的城市出差,想着联系一下留在那边的大学室友。结果听到电话那端憔悴的声音,出来一聚的念头就此打消。第二天,室友打来电话说读初三的孩子深夜不归,他也几乎一夜未睡。

家庭的存在起到了稳定社会的作用,但可能也在相当程度上阻碍了朋友的交流。毕竟大门一关,各家过各自的日子。即便没有孩子,无须照料老人,你的出行也总要考虑另一半的感受。于是好友相聚最终成为一个需要紧密策划的活动。踽踽独行的单身狗只能对着紧闭的大门无奈地转身离去,心中期待有一天也能有处容身之所。等那一天真正到来时,才发现原来门内的人们其实也羡慕当初门外的自己。“围城”内外都只余下无尽的落寞。

古人云,“不如意事常八九,能与言者无二三。”但当在这大千世界,连二三知己都为时空阻隔而不可得时,这段距离又承载着多少孤独呢!

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About Michael Broughton