4 October, 2012

Apologia pro vita sua

Cardinal Newman had much to say in his Apologia pro vita sua but he had religious views to defend, which very easily generates much complexity.

So my apologia will be drastically shorter. Nonetheless, the idea of reviewing one's life and looking for what lessons there may be in it has some appeal.

In the beginning -- with my sister Jacqueline -- always known to me as "Jack" (now deceased)

A few years later. L to R: My brother Christopher, my sister Jacqueline, myself. I think my little brother looks gorgeous in that picture and he is good-natured to this day. There is a larger copy of that photo on Facebook.

As I was around the turn of the century

In 2003

Graduating with Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (B.A.)

In the army

With Janet in the 60s

At a Burns supper with Jill and Anne

Carving the haggis on a hot Brisbane summer evening

With Anne, 2006

Wedding big Kath

At Etty Bay, my childhood beach

In the MacRae kilt

Lunching with old friends

Do my son and I look similar? There's a lot of similarity in behaviour

With Matthew the toebiter

With Paul, Matthew, Nanna and Joe at Nanna's 88th in July 2011

At a dosa lunch with my beloved Anne

For related pix see here

There is much evidence to show that how happy we are is inborn and I was undoubtedly born with the gift of contentment. I guess it could sound rather sickening but I have always been content with my life -- though I have of course had low moments associated with health problems etc. So my evaluation of my life is in a sense "biased". No matter what had happened I would probably see it as an easy life.

And I do. I think I have cruised through life with only minor knocks. There have been points along the way where I could have taken different directions from the ones I did take but looking back, I still think the choices I made were for the best, given the knowledge I had at the time.

What would I have done if by age 16 I had the knowledge I have now? One simple answer: Have lots more kids. I think kids are the greatest and the more you have the more there is to enjoy. Because they are all very different even with the same parents. I did try relatively late in life to have more than one child but for medical reasons it did not happen.

I now see my years in university teaching and research as largely a waste of time. But even with foreknowledge I may still have gone into academe because I "belong" there. I am a born academic. And an academic life is a very easy and privileged one. Would I have gone into politics? I doubt it. I don't have either the drive or the patience for that. I was in fact a member of one conservative political party or another for much of my life and I enjoyed that but any greater involvement could have got tedious, I think.

In my relentlessly positive way, I don't even regret my very great religious involvement in my teenage years -- even though I have been an atheist for all of my adult life. The Christian experience was intense and rewarding and again, I think I was born to it. I think I was and am an intinctive Protestant fundamentalist. The restrictions of a very Puritanical religion bothered me not a bit. I am slightly in the grip of the Demon drink these days and I have been married four times but I think I still have largely Puritan values. To ennumerate the virtues concerned might seen like self praise, however so I will not do that.

Aha! I have thought of a way in which I could have done much better in life: I could have been kinder and more understanding to the ladies in my life. Mind you: Four of them were happy to marry me so I cannot have been too bad. But women do put up with a lot from men.

And yet none of my relationshipds lasted and I think I must take most of the blame for that. But on the other hand if I had been more considerate, I might not have had the parade of interesting women through my life that I did have -- which would be a considerable loss. I certainly have some very pleasant memories in my declining years.

So I guess that I just don't feel very apologetic or regretful about my life. I have made mistakes but none of them have turned out too badly.

This must be the world's worst apologia! There is however a short autobiography here

Go to John Ray's Main academic menu
Go to Menu of longer writings
Go to John Ray's basic home page
Go to John Ray's pictorial Home Page
Go to Selected pictures from John Ray's blogs