A Memoir of Odds and Ends

By James

Man is just the weakest reed of nature, but he is a contemplative reed.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

By no means shall I forget the moment when someone confessed to me that I had influenced their outlook on life, along with their attitudes towards learning because their words are tantamount to more than a dozen glasses of wines which fuddle me completely, leaving me abashed and my mind empty.

In retrospect to the most recent embarrassing moment, he guilelessly spoke his mind in words, “Aaron has changed my perspective towards language learning indeed. His passionate pursuit of excelling in another lingo is always impressive.”

But quite candidly, I have never thought that I have enough attribute to affect others. My reason to pick up another language is always as clear as black and white: I am not resigned to reading translated text (see my other article here: Language Learning and Translation – German as an Example). My motivation for French learning is even purer than a crystalline diamond – when I, still in my late tens, read twice in English about the unrequited love between Armand and Marguerite, and realized the sincere and irrevocable affection he had given to her, but just as Jack never got his Jill, Armand’s love was thwarted by his father, I was so touched with unceasing tears that I swore one day I must read it – “La Dame aux Camélias” (or The Lady of Camilla) – en français.

“What would my most rational high school math teacher F say if he knew that my tears are so abundant and penniless? (I still remember that “眼淺” (Cantonese: ngaan5 cin2; meaning that the my eyes resemble a shallow pool) is the phrase he frequently used)” sometimes I wonder. Yet I shall acknowledge my own nature, too. Had everyone possessed, like Mr. F, only rationality but little affections, the world would have entered the Ice Age – chilling and freezing forever.

I would rather be a weak man than a strong robot after all, for at least I can keep reflecting on my weaknesses and learning how to offset them.

image in entry 21

[Citation translated from French to English by James; featured image and photo taken by James respectively on 16th July, 2010 and 25th March, 2016]


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