So I was trained to become a gymnast for two years in Hunan, China in the 1970s. When I was in the first grade, the government wanted to transfer me to a school for athletes, all expenses paid. But my tiger mother said, "No." My parents wanted me to become an engineer like them. After surviving the Cultural Revolution,they firmly believed there's only one sure way to happiness: a safe and well-paid job. It is not important if I like the job or not.
But my dream was to become a Chinese opera singer. That is me playing my imaginary piano. An opera singer must start training young to learn acrobatics, so I tried everything I could to go to opera school. I even wrote to the school principal and the host of a radio show. But no adults liked the idea.
No adults believed I was serious. Only my friends supported me, but they were kids, just as powerless as I was. So at age 15, I knew I was too old to be trained. My dream would never come true. I was afraid that for the rest of my lifesome second-class happiness would be the best I could hope for.
But that's so unfair. So I was determined to find another calling. Nobody around to teach me? Fine. I turned to books.
老天不公啊！ 暗下决心要为自己寻找另一个使命 。周围无人赐教？没什么大不了， 我从书中学习。
I satisfied my hunger for parental advice from this book by a family of writers and musicians.["Correspondence in the Family of Fou Lei"]
I found my role model of an independent woman when Confucian tradition requires obedience.["Jane Eyre"]
And I learned to be efficient from this book.["Cheaper by the Dozen"]
And I was inspired to study abroad after reading these.["Complete Works of Sanmao" (aka Echo Chan)] ["Lessons From History" by Nan Huaijin]
I came to the U.S. in 1995, so which books did I read here first? Books banned in China, of course. "The Good Earth" is about Chinese peasant life. That's just not convenient for propaganda. Got it. The Bible is interesting, but strange.
That's a topic for a different day. But the fifth commandment gave me an epiphany: "You shall honor your father and mother." "Honor," I said. "That's so different, and better, than obey." So it becomes my tool to climb out of this Confucian guilt trap and to restart my relationship with my parents.
那个话题他日再聊。 但十诫中的第五诫给了我灵感： “你应荣耀你的父母”。 我心里一动，“荣耀”不等于而且远胜于“服从”！ 它成为我爬出儒家负罪感的工具，它成为我爬出儒家负罪感的工具，让我重建与父母的关系。
Encountering a new culture also started my habit of comparative reading. It offers many insights. For example, I found this map out of place at first because this is what Chinese students grew up with. It had never occurred to me, China doesn't have to be at the center of the world.
A map actually carries somebody's view. Comparative reading actually is nothing new. It's a standard practice in the academic world. There are even research fields such as comparative religion and comparative literature.
Compare and contrast gives scholars a more complete understanding of a topic. So I thought, well, if comparative reading works for research, why not do it in daily life too? So I started reading books in pairs. So they can be about people -- ["Benjamin Franklin" by Walter Isaacson]["John Adams" by David McCullough] -- who are involved in the same event, or friends with shared experiences. ["Personal History" by Katharine Graham]["The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life," by Alice Schroeder]
对比对照让学者们对一个课题有更全面的了解。 对比对照让学者们对一个课题有更全面的了解。 我琢磨着，既然比较阅读对研究有用，为什么不把它用在日常生活中呢？ 因此我开始把书成对来读。它们可以是关于同一事件的不同当事人，它们可以是关于同一事件的不同当事人，（《本杰明·富兰克林》、《约翰·亚当斯》）或两个有共同经历的朋友。（凯瑟琳·格雷厄姆的《个人历史》、巴菲特传记《雪球》）
I also compare the same stories in different genres -- (Laughter) [Holy Bible: King James Version]["Lamb" by Chrisopher Moore] -- or similar stories from different cultures, as Joseph Campbell did in his wonderful book.["The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell] For example, both the Christ and the Buddha went through three temptations.For the Christ, the temptations are economic, political and spiritual. For the Buddha, they are all psychological: lust, fear and social duty -- interesting.
我还把故事相同但文体不同的书做对比, （《圣经》、小说《羔羊》）或对比那些来自不同文化的相似故事，象约瑟夫·坎贝尔在其杰作《神话的力量》中所做的那样。举个例子，耶稣和佛祖都经历了三大诱惑，耶稣经历的是经济、政治和精神诱惑， 佛祖经历的则都是心理诱惑：欲望、恐惧和社会责任——有意思。
So if you know a foreign language, it's also fun to read your favorite books in two languages. ["The Way of Chuang Tzu" Thomas Merton]["Tao: The Watercourse Way" Alan Watts] Instead of lost in translation, I found there is much to gain. For example, it's through translation that I realized "happiness" in Chinese literally means "fast joy." Huh! "Bride" in Chinese literally means "new mother." Uh-oh. (Laughter)
如果你懂外语，把你喜欢的书的两个语言版本对比读也很有意思。（托马斯·默顿翻译的《庄子》、阿伦·瓦特翻译的《道德经》） 们常说翻译总有缺失，我却发现翻译也可以带来收获。举个例子，是翻译使我意识到原来中文“快乐”一词的字面意思可解为“快速欢乐”，呃... 中文“新娘”一词的字面意思可解为“新妈妈”，天啊！
Books have given me a magic portal to connect with people of the past and the present. I know I shall never feel lonely or powerless again. Having a dream shattered really is nothing compared to what many others have suffered. I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you.
书已成为我与古人今人沟通的一个神奇门户， 书已成为我与古人今人沟通的一个神奇门户， 让我再不会觉得孤单无助。 与其他人的苦难相比，梦想破灭算不了什么。 与其他人的苦难相比，梦想破灭算不了什么。 我渐渐意识到成真并非梦想的唯一目的， 我渐渐意识到成真并非梦想的唯一目的， 它的最重要目的是让我们触摸到 梦想来源的地方、 热情来源的地方、快乐来源的地方， 哪怕一个破灭的梦想也可以让你经历那种触摸。
So because of books, I'm here today, happy, living again with a purpose and a clarity, most of the time. So may books be always with you.
因为书，我今天得以在此， 快乐地活着，生活的目标和意义重新变得明确， 在大部分时候。 希望书也永远与你相伴！
Thank you. (Applause)
Thank you. (Applause)