Would I change anything?
he question that has always intrigued me since leaving UNE with a BA in Educational Psychology is “Do external students have a genetic predisposition to gregariousness, or isolation?’
Still clinging to a belief in immanent justice, I felt all of this study should result in a prize – better job, greater opportunities, more disposable income. Most of my peer group had such ambitions, and I shared them.
Nowadays a few clicks of a mouse by a student causes relevant facts to march across the screen of a computer, and there seems little use for anything but a notepad and pen. In pre-computer and internet days, external study required long, lonely hours – in my case, under the house surrounded by heavy, expensive objects called books. I would peer at them intently whilst painstakingly extracting tiny oases of knowledge from oceans of text. That was the isolation. The gregarious aspect was every few months or so I attended a weekend at UNE – full of companionship, company and sociability.
So, peering back over a gulf of almost 27 years - did studying for a degree have an effect upon my life?
The results were wildly different to the beliefs I held. I had felt communication issues deepening between my wife and myself as my studies progressed – we had started out similar in attitude and thought – but after graduation we seemed at opposite ends of a spectrum whose middle was composed of “the no-go zone” of education. I couldn’t go back to my starting point – my partner wouldn’t advance to my finishing point.
I won’t bore the reader with the battles to set up various businesses I’ve been involved in over the last 26 years – export, yacht charter, farming, property development and teaching. After two near bankruptcies and some successes I’m currently CEO of a small and struggling telecommunications company, and I’m OK. I live (alone) on an island in the Andaman Sea – my home for the last 12 years – and I’m content, supremely so. My studies in Psychology have been a faithful friend along life’s journey, offering support when needed, and caution when in doubt. I do believe knowledge broadens and deepens the mental toolbox bringing about an evolution in thought and deed. It brings insight and perspective – and the cognitive processes re-order understanding in an irreversible way.
I enjoyed both. Each had their own rewards – the isolation allowed newly acquired knowledge to weave itself into my understanding – the gregarious aspect allowed me to test that understanding upon fellow students. I would share some insight with my peer group – trying not to feel like a laboratory researcher offering Rattus norvegicus a particularly delicious piece of cheese!
My prize was a divorce, a process which isolated me from many friends and relatives.
Yes, studying at UNE was literally a lifealtering experience for me. Would I change anything? Resoundingly, NO!
After some months, I felt the overwhelming need to be gregarious. I wanted to end the isolation - leave everyone and everything behind. I flew to Northern Thailand and settled in the foothills of the Himalayas, surrounded by hill folk, the gabble of strange tongues, exotic spicy odors and strange food. I really didn’t know a Red Lisu from a Karen, or a sapodilla from a lychee. I really didn’t care.
In writing this, I’ve realised that I’ve answered the question which has intrigued me. If I have been a typical external student (hah!) then in reviewing my life I would have to say my “gregarious” gene seems to express itself at opportune moments, as does the “isolation” gene. The results have been richer than I could ever have imagined. Thank you UNE. John Edmonds
Finally, Graduation Day arrived on 20 April, 1985.
After a month, I felt I should have been born here, and wanted to stay forever.
Published on Dec 11, 2012