Diligence and solitude

Recently, a Chinese ordinary migrant worker, YU Jianchun, has found a solution to a complex math problem. His interview by CNN attracted my intention and struck me, as he revealed a very simple truth, which is forgotten by many of us.

“He attributed his talent to diligence and solitude. He’s also modest.” reported CNN. That’s it ! No one is easily talented. Diligence and solitude are two keys for very big success. Unfortunately, we can make ourself diligent, but we have lost the solitude.

Although a migrant work’s day ought to be very busy to keep him survive in a big city like Beijing, I suppose that he is less busy than most of us, who have a smart phone at hand or a computer in front of us.

We are so busy in caring about everything, global news, local news, social media updates.  When we are not reading comments, we are writing our comments. We are not addicted to one certain thing, but indulge ourself to enlarge our focus even we have no special reason to do it.

We did have reason. Our parents and our educators  told us that world is changing and becoming a family, that we should know others to know better ourselves, that opportunities and fortunes are hiding in the social network…

I always admire Gustave Flaubert, a nigh-teen century’s French writer, who passed the major part of his  life in a small town, in a silent house, at night, lonely and desperate, writing his perfect novels. 5 years on Madame Bovary, 5 years  on The sentimental Education, 5 years on Bouvard and Pecuchet. What supported him?  Stubbornness? Arrogance? Anger? Or Passion? Nowadays, we abuse this word “Passion”.

To fight with solitude, Flaubert wrote letters, many and long letters, sometimes only to console himself and upset others. For me, in most of his letters, he was trying to justify himself while no one needed such justification and no one took it seriously. It’s difficult and painful to be obstinate all the time. He was an ordinary man, even an idiot according to Jean-Paul Sartre. Diligence and Solitude saved him and made him one of the greatest writers.

Recently, Sari Botton has suggested to read Proust, which may cure smartphone induced attention deficit. The problem is if we really want to end our addiction to the smartphone. Without willingness, every new subject may only create a new topic, on which we kill off time. I admire Proust since long long ago, but only began to read him when I was pregnant and asked to lay down in bed for days and days to keep the baby from natural abortion. Yet, I had no smartphone.

We all have big project and small immediate missions. Sometimes, we really need solitude, the very pure solitude.



If you are married to the wrong person

Alain de Botton‘s article Why you will marry the wrong person has been the most popular article of New York times for several weeks. I read it with admiration. Nobody is perfect. As time goes by, we tend to be more picky with our partner and cannot bear his or her magnified flaws.”I deserve a better man,” we comfort ourselves by imagining a person who surely understand us better, just as Emma Bovary, the famous heroine of Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary. “It’s the fault of fatality,”concluded her boring but sincere husband.

Emma was indulged herself in romantic novels. She tried to love her family but never gave up her dream. We are not as foolish as Emma who confused reality and imagination. Moreover, we think our partner will be much more charming and smarter than the poor Charles, her husband and her other hypocritical lovers. However, we encounter constantly surprising but disappointing discoveries in our marriage. We even doubt about the existence of love. Let’s read again Madame Bovary, a novel of 1856.

“Before marriage she thought herself in love; but the happiness that should have followed this love not having come, she must, she thought, have been mistaken. And Emma tried to find out what one meant exactly in life by the words felicity, passion, rapture, that had seemed to her so beautiful in books.”                                                                                     Chapiter 5, Part I, Madame Bovary

We are all, at a certain time, Emma Bovary. And then, if after each quarrel with your partner, you think  you are married to the wrong person, what do you do?

Most of my friends have family problems. Me too. Most of us chose silence to affront the disagreement. Cold violence turns out to be more harmful, because we unconsciously accumulate our anger and the explosion will be more violent. In the silence, we get time to justify ourselves, to prepare the attack, to peer or seek other proofs and to compare the past and the present. Once we compare the past and the present, the present seems always horrible, because the past, especially the beginning of our love and the first days of our marriage were embellished in our memory. Naturally, we are more or less egocentric.”The marriage was wrong,” we accuse our partner to ruin our expectation. We rarely use “I” to form the sentence, as “I was wrong”.

It happened that in yesterday’s college entrance exam in Shanghai, the writing subject was to express one’s opinion on “comments on others”. Making comments on others becomes our busy activity, especially in social medias. Comments and judgments fill also our family life. We don’t want to be mean, but sometimes, we are so mean without awareness.”Your haircut is awful,””you are always impatient,””How stubborn your are,”… Gradually, we focus more on someone’s quality than on the issue itself, trying to figure out the origin fault of our problem. “I never thought you were so selfish,” we shouted out.

If you are married to the wrong person, I mean, if you think that you are married to the wrong person, stop highlighting the word “wrong”. In marriage, there is no right no wrong. Stop commenting or judging your partner. Stop making sentences with “you” as subject. Try to buy her or him a present, as what you did on the first day of your date. Make him or her a coffee or just hand over the coffer mug. There is a Chinese expression which describes the good marriage life, even it’s not in line with our ideal of best love: “Be polite as guests !”

If you are married to the wrong person, the first thing to do is to stop thinking that you are married to the wrong person. Try to think that all marriage are not easy. As Alain de Botton reveals, “you will still marry the wrong person”.