If you have ever gone through a toll booth, you know that your relationship to the person in the booth is not the most intimate you’ll ever have. It is one of life’s frequent non-encounters: You hand over some money; you might get change; you drive off. I have been through every one of the 17 toll booths on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge on thousands of occasions, and never had an exchange worth remembering with anybody.
Late one morning in 1984, headed for lunch in San Francisco, I drove toward one of the booths. I heard loud music. It sounded like a party, or a Michael Jackson concert. I looked around. No other cars with their windows open. No sound trucks. I looked at the toll booth. Inside it, the man was dancing.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m having a party,” he said.
“What about the rest of these people?” I looked over at other booths; nothing moving there.
“They’re not invited.”
I had a dozen other questions for him, but somebody in a big hurry to get somewhere started punching his horn behind me and I drove off. But I made a note to myself: Find this guy again. There’s something in his eye that says there’s magic in his toll booth.
Months later I did find him again, still with the loud music, still having a party.
Again I asked, “What are you doing?”
He said, “I remember you from the last time. I’m still dancing. I’m having the same party.”
I said, “Look. What about the rest of the people”
He said. “Stop. What do those look like to you?” He pointed down the row of toll booths.
“They look like tool booths.”
I said, “Okay, I give up. What do they look like to you?”
He said, “Vertical coffins.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I can prove it. At 8:30 every morning, live people get in. Then they die for eight hours. At 4:30, like Lazarus from the dead, they reemerge and go home. For eight hours, brain is on hold, dead on the job. Going through the motions.”
I was amazed. This guy had developed a philosophy, a mythology about his job. I could not help asking the next question: “Why is it different for you? You’re having a good time.”
He looked at me. “I knew you were going to ask that, “ he said. “I’m going to be a dancer someday.” He pointed to the administration building. “My bosses are in there, and they’re paying for my training.”
Sixteen people dead on the job, and the seventeenth, in precisely the same situation, figures out a way to live. That man was having a party where you and I would probably not last three days. The boredom! He and I did have lunch later, and he said, “I don’t understand why anybody would think my job is boring. I have a corner office, glass on all sides. I can see the Golden Gate, San Francisco, the Berkeley hills; half the Western world vacations here and I just stroll in every day and practice dancing.”
“我沒邀請他們?！?br /> 我還有十幾個問題要問他，但我后面的人急著要去某地，開始按喇叭，我只好開走了。但我在心里告訴自己：還要再找這個人。他眼里有某種東西，告訴我在他的收費亭里一種魔力。
他說：“我記得你上次問過了。我還在跳舞，還在舉行同樣的舞會?！?br /> 我說：“瞧，其他人呢?”
“看來就像收費亭啊?！?br /> “真是沒有想象力!”
他說：“直立的棺材?！?br /> “你在說些什么呀?”
“我可以證實。每早八點半，活的人進去。然后他們死亡八個小時。下午四點半，就像死人中的拉撒路，他們復活回到家中。整整八個小時，頭腦思維中斷，他們只是呆板地工作，重復著相同的動作?！?br /> 我感到非常驚異。這個小伙子發展了一種哲學，創造了一個有關工作的神話。我禁不住又問了一個問題：“為什么你不一樣?你過得很快樂?！?br /> 他看了看我：“我就知道你會問這個，”他接著說，“總有一天我會成為一個舞蹈家?！蔽抑赶蛐姓C關大樓：“我的老板都在那里，他們花錢為我培訓?！?br /> 十六個人呆板地做著工作，而第十七個，幾乎處于同樣的情況，卻找到另外一種生活方式。那個人在舉辦的舞會，你我恐怕連三天都堅持不了。無聊!他和我后來確實一起吃過午飯，他說：“我不理解為何每個人都認為我的工作很枯燥。我有一個街角辦公室，四周都是玻璃。我可以看見金門海峽、舊金山和伯克利山，半個西方世界都在這兒度假，每天我只是漫步到這里，練習跳舞?！?br /> 英語美文帶翻譯：幸福不是追求到的
It is a commonplace among moralists that you cannot get happiness by pursuing it. This is only true if you pursue it unwisely. Gamblers at Monte Carlo are pursuing money， and most of them lose it instead， but there are other ways of pursuing money， which often succeed. So it is with happiness. If you pursue it by means of drink， you are forgetting the hang-over. Epicurus pursued it by living only in congenial society and eating only dry bread， supplemented by a little cheese on feast days. His method proved successful in his case， but he was a valetudinarian， and most people would need something more vigorous. For most people， the pursuit of happiness， unless supplemented in various ways， is too abstract and theoretical to be adequate as a personal rule of life. But I think that whatever personal rule of life you may choose it should not， except in rare and heroic cases， be incompatible with happiness.
There are a great many people who have all the material conditions of happiness， i.e. health and a sufficient income， and who， nevertheless， are profoundly unhappy. In such cases it would seem as if the fault must lie with a wrong theory as to how to live. In one sense， we may say that any theory as to how to live is wrong. We imagine ourselves more different from the animals than we are. Animals live on impulse， and are happy as long as external conditions are favorable. If you have a cat it will enjoy life if it has food and warmth and opportunities for an occasional night on the tiles. Your needs are more complex than those of your cat， but they still have their basis in instinct. In civilized societies， especially in English-speaking societies， this is too apt to be forgotten. People propose to themselves some one paramount objective， and restrain all impulses that do not minister to it. A businessman may be so anxious to grow rich that to this end he sacrifices health and private affections. When at last he has become rich， no pleasure remains to him except harrying other people by exhortations to imitate his noble example. Many rich ladies， although nature has not endowed them with any spontaneous pleasure in literature or art， decide to be thought cultured， and spend boring hours learning the right thing to say about fashionable new books that are written to give delight， not to afford opportunities for dusty snobbism.
If you look around at the men and women whom you can call happy， you will see that they all have certain things in common. The most important of these things is an activity which at most gradually builds up something that you are glad to see coming into existence. Women who take an instinctive pleasure in their children can get this kind of satisfaction out of bringing up a family. Artists and authors and men of science get happiness in this way if their own work seems good to them. But there are many humbler forms of the same kind of pleasure. Many men who spend their working life in the city devote their weekends to voluntary and unremunerated toil in their gardens， and when the spring comes， they experience all the joys of having created beauty.
The whole subject of happiness has， in my opinion， been treated too solemnly. It had been thought that man cannot be happy without a theory of life or a religion. Perhaps those who have been rendered unhappy by a bad theory may need a better theory to help them to recovery， just as you may need a tonic when you have been ill. But when things are normal a man should be healthy without a tonic and happy without a theory. It is the simple things that really matter. If a man delights in his wife and children， has success in work， and finds pleasure in the alternation of day and night， spring and autumn， he will be happy whatever his philosophy may be. If， on the other hand， he finds his wife fateful， his children’s noise unendurable， and the office a nightmare; if in the daytime he longs for night， and at night sighs for the light of day， then what he needs is not a new philosophy but a new regimen—-a different diet， or more exercise， or what not.
Man is an animal， and his happiness depends on his physiology more than he likes to think. This is a humble conclusion， but I cannot make myself disbelieve it. Unhappy businessmen， I am convinced， would increase their happiness more by walking six miles every day than by any conceivable change of philosophy.