现代人 The Modern People

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—听老家村里唯一一位活了将近百岁的裹脚老奶奶“唠叨” (照片拍摄:Mike, 福建槽坑村,2014.8 | Fujian) A nearly 100-year-old and the only woman Yu with bound-feet in my home village.

 

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—西方周游过世界的Mike 与东方从未离过村的裹脚老奶奶之间的对话。 (照片拍摄:Heather, 福建槽坑村,2014.8 | Fujian) A conversation between the western Mike, who has travelled all over the world, and the eastern Yu, who has never left the village.

 

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—一双裹脚鞋,摄于美国作家Amanda的深圳公寓,2014 | Writer Amanda’s, Shenzhen

 

请问谁没有听过老一輩的人說,我們那個年代有多苦多苦,現在的人應該懂得知足?

 

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—摄于福建寿宁,2014.8 | Shouning Town, Fujian Province

 

時代在突飞猛进,为什么还没有一项科技可以完全消除人类的烦恼呢?

 

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—摄于广东深圳,2014.11 | Shenzhen, Guangdong

 

物欲持续横流,钢筋水泥下人心不乏孤独,请问现在的人都在焦虑什么呢?有人会忧国忧民吗?有人感到怀才不遇吗?有人买不到好房好车吗?有人找不到真爱吗?有人认为工作压力太大工作收入太少吗?有人害怕世界末日资源能源快要耗竭吗?有人怀疑社会不公平生活毫无乐趣吗?有人觉得自己太少受关注吗?有人叹息这人生没有目标没有成就感吗?

 

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—摄于福建寿宁,2014.8 | Shouning Town, Fujian Province

 

既然人类如此焦虑,那我们跟上时代的步伐了吗?还是跟着时代的机器一个轮子一个齿子的滚着?那我们还算是现代人吗?

 

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—摄于福建老家,2013.12 | My home village, Fujian Province

 

维基百科生物学上有提到,現代人類是在約20萬年前的東非大裂谷演化成形的。我很好奇,这20万年到底积淀了人类多少的智慧与烦恼呢?我也很好奇,这20万年过去了,现代人是不是比古代人更聪明呢?请问有谁能够认为自己是铁铮铮的现代人呢?有谁能够站出来称自己是现代社会主义的接班人呢?又有谁能够考虑人类的生存条件而当一名真正的现代人呢?

 

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—摄于广东深圳荔枝公园,2014.6 | Litchi Park, Shenzhen

 

半年前,带着这些令人抓狂的问题,我写下了这一篇日记:
彼时的我在生命的长河正顺流醉入声势磅礴的瀑布之中。这纵然一跃是蜕变,也是解开一个千缠百绕的扭结。那扭结缠绕的松紧是人和环境的摩擦与交融。因为一次偶然的机缘,加入大都会后,更觉得环境是自己的血肉之躯,而人就是多巴胺。

 

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—摄于福建老家房顶,2013.12 | The rooftop of my home dirt house, Fujian Province

 

在上海一个缘故也没有,却决然选择做保险,就是想要在不可能中创造一种可能!
好比如当初笃定自己一个人死了就死了,不可能会有“杂念”。但自从落地这个大魔都后,发现越是迷恋一座城市,越是向往一种新生活,对求生的欲望就越强,从而危机感便油然而生, 成为了可能。
正是如此,我开始领悟从不可能到可能只要一个想法或观念的转变,开始反思自己过去对保险的无视,开始追问为什么国人都不大爱投保,开始明白为什么国家近年重视保险教育了,也开始相信保险其实能解决社会很多问题。想想,要是人人都有了保障,这个社会不就更安定更和谐了吗?有了保障,还会焦头烂额可怜兮兮的搞轻松筹吗?有了保障,还会怕一个人病塌一个家吗?有了保障,还担心要是顶梁柱倒下了剩下家人该怎么办吗?有了保障,面对风险还会手足无措吗?

 

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—摄于广东深圳荔枝公园,2014.6 | Litchi Park, Shenzhen

 

我很喜欢这份工作!它不仅充满爱与责任,让我学到很多东西,认识很多有趣的人,还能在极限中挑战和突破自己,做一些不喜欢做的事情却可以带来意外的惊喜。

 

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—摄于福建老家,2013.12 | Inside my home dirt house in Caokeng Village, Fujian Province

 

假如参加活动是一艘帆船要启航了,那认识人就是乘风破浪。这是一次冒险的旅行。旅行的目的就是大胆地传播爱,传播福音,传播正能量。请记住,船长不是倭寇,也不是加勒比海盗,而是一个敬畏生命、连只蚂蚁都舍不得踩的小女人。她的名字叫蔡太莲!

 

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—摄于福建老家,2013.12 | My home village, Fujian Province

 

很坦诚的说,历经一个蜕变的过程犹如在一个黑暗的瓶颈里奋力求生。此时此刻,我特别感谢并珍惜跟我见面的人!

 

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—福建老家:最左边那栋土房,2013.12 | My home – the left house, Fujian Province

 

记得胡适先生有说过:“保险的意义只是今天做明天的准备;生时做死时的准备;父母做儿女的准备;儿女幼时做儿女长大的准备。今天预备明天,这是真稳健;生时预备死时,这是真豁达;父母预备儿女,这是真慈爱。能做到这三步的人,才能算作是现代人。”

 

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—摄于广东深圳荔枝公园,2014.6 | Litchi Park, Shenzhen

 

敢问我们究竟有多少人堪称自己是“现代人”呢?

 

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Mindset

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

Note: This is my third speech in Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

 

Does it ever occur to you that your keys are in your hand but you cannot find them? Why is that? Why does it often occur to me? Perhaps my mind was traveling, my memory terrible, my habits awful. But I never realized this could be a problem, my problem, until after the smart Michelle Wu told me, “Novel language is all about liberating the soul of the author, while public speaking is about making an instant connection with different souls.” 

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

This immediately helped put my bizarre thoughts together – my soul seems to linger in the past, my spirit seems to thrive in the future, yet my body seems to float in the present. I wondered hard how to connect my soul in the past with different souls in the present. Her words made me think about the way of my thinking, my habitual attitude, my beliefs about myself, and my most basic qualities. Her words also made me think of a high school roommate who just wouldn’t talk to me till our graduation day when I finally couldn’t help asking her why. Guess what she said? “I don’t talk to you, because you are a girl, but you look like a boy, you talk like a boy, you act like a boy and you seem to play only with boys.”

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

Oh, believe me, that confused me a lot. Since then, I would consciously ask myself: Who am I? What am I? Why am I like this? The only thing I’m certain is that I just want to write more, I can’t really care about what’s around me.

 

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—Me in Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

Then one evening during the Gossip Dinner after the Chinese Contest, the noble Suhail gently commented that my speech The Modern People was too deep, and the funny Alvin thought I must have prepared the speech for long time. That moment, my mind was enlightened. Firstly, I wrapped up the ideas on Monday, wrote the speech on Tuesday and delivered it on Wednesday. What made Alvin think that way? Secondly, why is the world I see different from the world others see? What on earth makes such a difference? 

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

Then I recalled the reason why I joined Toastmasters. Like many of you, I really want to make a proper speech. Each time when standing on the stage, I imagined it was a party like the party in The Great Gatsby and you were my guests who could be writers, editors, publishers, journalists, artists or my dear friends who know me the best. I’m sorry if I have imagined too far. But thanks to the most handsome Brian, the sensual Paul, the courageous Damir and all those who have shown me something great on the stage, I came to the conclusion that our brains work very differently. But how differently?

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

It is fascinating to ask, “Which position would you like to place your mind and which direction would you like to see?”

It is even more fascinating to know that all this wondering is just mindset.

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

What is mindset?

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

It is a way of thinking, an attitude, an opinion, or your beliefs.

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

Now think about your intelligence, talents and personality. Who believes that you have a certain amount of brain and talent and nothing can change that? Please raise your left hand. Congratulations! You have a fixed mindset. And who believes that your brain and talent can be developed through dedication and hard work? Please raise your right hand. More congratulations! You have a growth mindset.

For those who didn’t raise any hand, I have more questions for you. Have you ever judged yourself and others like: “I’m a loser.” “ I’m a better person than they are.” “I’m a bad husband.” “My partner is selfish.”? Or would you ask yourself: What can I learn from this? How can I improve? How can I help my partner do this better?

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

You don’t need to tell me the answer. This is a story we tell ourselves. But how to change the story with a growth mindset? How would you improve your speech without changing your style?

 

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Aftertaste


“I read what seduces me, I write what perverts me. “

– Heather Cai –


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–Tian’anmen Building (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

“The Chinese people have stood up!” These words were announced to the world by Chairman Mao on October 1st 1949 from Tian’anmen Square in the heart of Beijing. For that reason, exactly 66 years later, after writing my first English novel, I made a solo trip to the capital city. Standing on the grand Tian’anmen Building where Mao had stood, I wanted to feel the glorious moment with the thunderous applause. But there was no sense of glory, nor trace of history. The buzzing of the tourist commerce sickened me. My imagination was bombed. I was disappointed.

 

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–Inside the Tian’anmen Building (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

Instead of standing a long time on the grand Tian’anmen Building, I went down-to-earth leafing from one hutong to another. And in one of the many hutongs near Lemma Temple, I met Lysanne Thibodeau, a Canadian filmmaker. She came with a fancy camera and a bright smile asking me for directions to a place, which I was just looking for on my map.

 

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–We met outside this place (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

Delighted by such a coincidence, I wondered: have you ever had such a beautiful moment in your life with a strange person from a strange country in a strange city that you could never forget?  

 

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–What brings us together? (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

I couldn’t say that I had a crush on Lysanne, but her appearance gave me the impression of some romance. The afternoon sun seemed to have taken a shine to us in the endless blue.

 

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–It felt like the nacreous cloud that day (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

With much joy and talk, we headed to 798 Art Zone for a couple of wonderful hours. Till our legs were tired and our throats dry, we shared a taxi to enjoy a cheering drink at a pub in Houhai Park. It was during their Happy Hours, and time slipped through our fingers delicately. Listening to the mixed music, we looked around, talked about casual things and started making jokes. The coolness of the beer refreshed our minds, and Lysanne’s face blushed. She said the alcohol made her burn. I laughed. She laughed.

 

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 –Lysanne and Heather in Houhai Park (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

When the drinks were finished, our stomachs rumbled. We chose a seafood restaurant in a dark lane. All the loud music now sounded distantly behind us. Sitting in a cozy corner with a view of some layered roofs outside, we ordered three dishes very quickly and began to share ideas about what we had seen that day. Both of us were overwhelmed with gratitude as we discussed some possibilities of what it would’ve been like if we never met. Gradually, we talked more openly, and our conversations deepened to the very marrow of our personal life. Lysanne made a video of me, which later she asked for my permission to use for a documentary.

 

 

–The Seafood Restaurant (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

By nine-thirty, we finished our dinner and were both dying for a piss. The only toilet available was somewhere along the dark lane. We hurried there, and found it had no light, no door, but only two holes. One of them was occupied by a girl, who was playing on her phone like a statue. She must be reading something fascinating. The screen almost touched her big nose, and her small eyes were hidden by her neat fringe. The light played a beautiful pattern on the concrete ceiling. The stillness of the rough surface condensed her motionless face – a gorgeous scene that we wished to capture. But we couldn’t help laughing, and we just couldn’t stop laughing. With a muffled voice, Lysanne kindly let me pee first. Eyeing each other and at the “statue”, we laughed even louder. A strange chemistry was flowing in our blood, then steaming to the air. It was a stimulation of some excitement.

 

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–The stimulating lights in Houhai Park (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

The chemistry climaxed when we ran out of the toilet, with the striking image of the girl remaining as she was when we first saw her. We terribly felt like sharing a cigarette. But neither of us wanted a whole pack, nor a cheap brand. We started looking for one from some passers-by with smart outfits but failed. We then walked back to a cigarette store that was opposite the pub we had been in earlier. I asked the young owner: “Hey Boss! May I borrow a good cigarette from you?” Throwing us a suspicious glance but without uttering a word, to our amazement, he handed me a Marlboro cigarette and helped light it. After taking a long drag, I gave it to Lysanne. She sucked more slowly and more deeply, blowing two clouds of smoke out of her nostrils. In turns, we finished the delicious cigarette, only with more laughter. The night felt light and pleasant. We said goodbye with the aftertaste of a strangely lasting day.

 

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Transformations

The Dying, The Dead and The Rotten

The Dying, The Dead and The Rotten! (Picture taken in Fujian, 2015.12)

 

A kidney stone that almost caused surgery in high school, somehow, enlightened me to wonder: what is the point of being a good student? A month break with painful injections everyday, that gave me time to reflect on what was really good. When I returned to the classroom, as a monitor, not only did I lose patience and interest in listening to the teacher but felt vulnerable disciplining the “bad” boys. Worse, at night I came to play majhong with them and in the day, I became the best enemy of all the teachers. One afternoon, furiously, the math teacher told me to leave. I did. But before I did, I torn the whole math textbook into pieces and threw them in the air. Since then, I gained a reputation of changing from a good student to a bad student.

 

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Drawn by a vivid fantasy of the sea, I started my college life in Hainan and was given a name Katie when working part-time for an international hostel. I wandered wastefully throughout the first two years, till I met a Mongolian painter who mentioned Simone de Beauvoir to me. I began to read Henry Miller and William Faulkner. Then everything became crystal clear, and spiritually I named myself Beauvior.

 

The Maze

Trying to find a way through the maze in colors…

 

Alas, after graduation, the monotony of working as a wage slave, doomed me to a fatal swirl. I couldn’t read or write, but spend every Saturday afternoon in a KTV box, brewing the aftertaste of a dark film Quills about Marquis de Sade, which blended me into a wild fermentation. And that inspired me to flip Pearl into Qearl, as my personal name.

 

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Three years later, something unexpected happened. I quit my full-time job on impulse and started traveling as well as chasing my dream. After four years of writing two English novels under a finally official name Heather, I moved to Shanghai on December 12th,2017. Like a twist, I joined MetLife Insurance company. To my surprise, the person who rejected my very first job application in Shanghai, contacted me last Sunday to work for an art gallery. Without any art background, I’m now stumbling into the art field.

 

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Life is transformations, and I have been transformed.