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To Be or Not To Be

What is the best kind of action to take?

· Best kind of action,Personal Memoir,Travel

I remember, I was just 21. I had completed my final year with First Class Honours in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Oxford or Cambridge called.

But instead I took the boat to Pakistan (planes were more of a rarity in these days and a boat was the cheapest option) to teach philosophy in a local Women's College of Higher Education. What possessed me?

Youthful idealism is one answer.

My contract was for three years but well before the end of the first year, I had decided with the confidence of youth, that there was nothing useful that I could contribute to the College and that I should move on. But I was far from ready to return to Scotland and the UK.

My next employment was in what is now Bangladesh but was then East Pakistan. Again, I taught Philosophy, Western Philosophy. (I had elected to take two years of Indian Philosophy in addition to my main subjects while I was at University; but there was no demand for that from my employers.) Additionally, I was appointed as Dean of Women Students, a position, I regret to say, that I thought was a huge joke.

Again, I decided, before the end of my first year there, that I was doing nothing of value and so should move on.

So, what is the moral of the story? What, if anything, did I learn from my foray to the Far East?

Looking back, I fear that the answer is, Not much - until now.

With the wisdom of age, i see that I could have had a marvellous three years knocking around Pakistan and India, soaking up the local culture, visiting the magnificent ancient temples and learning more about the sub-continent. 

There was so much to enjoy, to marvel at; so much new experience to soak up.

But I was consumed with the idea that I should be doing something useful. And in the context of India, Philosophy and particularly Western Philosophy seemed at the time to be the most un-useful thing of anything that I could be doing. 

In spite of this, I continued to love Philosophy, particularly Indian Philosophy. When I returned to the UK, I embarked on a PhD thesis, the topic of which was The Conception of the Personal in Hindu and Christian Thought!

From the other end of my life, I look back on what were clearly missed opportunities - many of them! But were they? What do YOU think? 

What kind of action is the best action?

To be continued ... 

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