How have the past two years been for you? Stressful? Hopeful? Life-threatening? Boring? 你這兩年好嗎 ? 壓力很大嗎 ? 充滿希望嗎 ? 經歷過生命危機嗎 ? 無聊嗎 ?
I've been alright, nothing extraordinarily good or bad to report. Like you I've struggled to make sense of the world we live in now. Like you I've often wondered what the future might hold. 我還好, 不好也不壞 . 跟你一樣, 努力地在生活裡理出頭緒 . 也跟你一樣經常地猜想未來的樣貌 .
I've observed foreign friends going through a similar experience. We all read the same news; we all speculate on the same topics. Gather any two mask-wearing foreigners together, and the conversation soon turns to COVID, international travel, Taiwan vs. Wherever We Came From, work (or the lack thereof), and other, related subjects. 我發現外國朋友們的經驗都差不多 . 我們看一樣的新聞 . 我們思考一樣的事情 . 任何兩位外國人在一起聊天 , 聊的內容通常是疫情 , 國際旅遊 , 台灣國內跟我們自己國家的差別 ,以及 人才市場或是其他相關的話題 .
The world has felt a lot less stable over the past two years, especially if you happen to be living in a country that's not your own, among people who (for the most part) consider you an outsider. 這兩年的感覺就是世界變得很不穩定 . 尤其是不居住在自己國家的人 , 身邊圍繞的都是和自己文化不同的人 , 更有這種感覺吧 !
Thing is, when I look at some of my foreign friends I'm not sure if their sudden changes of perspective are due to COVID or due to their age. I'm in my late 40s now, and my friends, for the most part, are in their 30s, 40s and 50s. I have a few friends over 50, and some acquaintances in their 20s, but on average my friends are around the same age I am. Certain times of life affect people in different ways, and it's hard to say where "just being in your 40s" ends and COVID begins. 當我見到我的朋友, 我不知道改變他們觀念的是疫情或是年齡 . 我快五十歲了 . 我朋友們的年齡大都介於三十到五十歲 . 有幾位外國朋友超過五十歲 , 也認識二十幾歲的人 ,但是主要的朋友的年齡跟我差不多 . 某些人生階段對人們有不同的影響 , 很難說觀念改變的原因是中年危機或是疫情 .
As people age certain changes inevitably occur. Maybe your hair starts to go grey, or maybe it starts to disappear. Maybe you get fatter, or, thinking you're getting fatter, you suddenly develop an obsession with exercise. Maybe you get married, maybe you have kids, or maybe a divorce is in the wings, waiting to throw your entire life into a blender. 年紀的增長讓改變不可避免的發生, 可能你的頭髮漸漸變白 , 也可能頭髮開始消失 . 有可能你變胖了 , 或是覺得自己變胖而瘋狂運動 . 有可能你結婚生小孩 , 也有可能你正醞釀著離婚 , 或是等著讓生活變得更紊亂 .
Then, in the middle of whichever one of these things you're experiencing, comes the midlife crisis. Confronted with your own mortality, you decide to change your life in drastic ways. Some people quit their jobs and start new careers. Other people decide, once and for all, that they're gay. Still other people buy ridiculously large motorcycles, along with matching outfits, and begin riding these motorcycles around small islands in East Asia. You never know what shape a midlife crisis is going to take, and if you're living with someone going through one you have my sympathy. 當上面那些事情正在發生的時候 , 中年危機就來了 . 想到人生有限的時候 , 你決定做一番大改變 . 有的人辭職再開始事業第二春 . 有的人終於決定自己是同性戀 . 有的人買大型機車和配合的機車裝備開始環島 . 每個人的中年危機不一樣 , 跟有中年危機的人一起住是一件辛苦的事 .
Complicating this issue is COVID. Whereas before we could point to the 45 year old foreign man with the slightly stunned, 18 year old Taiwanese girlfriend and say "midlife crisis," now it's harder to say. Our Friend the Coronavirus has pushed the clock backwards or forwards for a lot of people, and it's hard to differentiate a genuine midlife crisis from the kind of thinking that COVID engenders. Many of us, in the wake of COVID, are now thinking that our lives are short, the world is uncertain, and WHY NOT make a change? WHY NOT try something different? 疫情讓這件事情更複雜 . 我們以前看到四十五歲的外國人跟十八歲的台灣辣妹交往就說是 "中年危機 ." 現在不一定這樣了 . 疫情讓很多人心裡時鐘往前一步或是退後一步 , 很難分辨一個人的想法跟疫情或年齡有關 . 疫情開始之後 , 很多人開始想人生短暫 , 世界也很紛亂 , 為什麼不做些改變? 為什麼不做新的嘗試?.
I see this internal struggle in several of my foreign friends. I see it in myself as well. If the world is upside down, what matters? Who matters? What should I be doing, and who should I be doing it with? 我看到我的外國朋友有這樣的掙扎, 我自己也是. 如果這世界亂了 , 什麼是最重要的 ? 誰最重要 ? 我應該做什麼 ? 跟誰一起做 ?
For some this internal struggle has led to their leaving Taiwan. Others have quit their jobs, gotten new jobs, and then quit those new jobs as well. Some people are trying to make a new start, while others are more tentatively wondering if they should do so. And it's really hard to say which of these people have been pushed there by COVID, and which of these people have been pushed there by their age, and by reflections on their life thus far. 因為這樣的內心掙扎, 有的外國朋友離開台灣 . 有人辭職找新工作 , 最後辭掉所有工作 . 有的人試著重新開始 , 有的人正觀望與思考自己的下一步 . 他們這麼做的原因不一定是疫情 , 也有可能是因為年齡 , 或自己過去的生活 .
I know I've been doing some thinking. I don't THINK it's a midlife crisis because I already had one. Then again, who knows? Maybe it's just the years and the thinking thereon. To be sure, COVID informs some of my thinking, but again it's hard to say where COVID ends and normal, mortality-related panic begins. 我也在考慮這些事情 . 我的中年危機過了 , 所以不是這個問題吧 . 誰知道 ? 有可能就是年齡的關係 , 當然疫情也影響了我的想法 . 只是很難說哪個先 .
I just hope you're doing OK. It's been a troubling two years, but I believe the worst is behind us. We have to hope that on the other side of the pandemic (and on the other side of our personal crises) lies a better life, full of new and old things that we can all enjoy together. COVID isn't the end of the world - at least not yet - and in the absence of existential certainty all we can do is keep trying; all we can do is keep living - one breath at a time. 希望你的生活中沒有困難 . 這兩年大家的生活都很緊張 , 我相信最可怕的已經過去了 . 相信在疫情(中年危機)之後的生活更美好 . 新冠疫情不是世界末日 , 我們目前在這個當下可以做的就是繼續努力 , 一步一腳印地活下去 .
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