Cutearmpit and Meebao

Every since Uncle Wong's baby Sarah joined Earth, he disappeared from the game, leaving Tucky and I the only miserable members of our guild, which I suspect, is the smallest guild in the Guildwars2 global server. Since then, our headcount increased by 50% when a Singaporean player with a curious name somehow chose to join us. While most players in the game have multiple characters, some even multiple accounts, the guy has only 1 male human Mesmer which he played since the beginning of the game. His character's name is Cutearmpit.

When it comes to game character names, usually players would choose something mighty, such as "Ultimate Slayer" or something to troll opponent players such as "Your Heads Are Mine" and just something ambiguous but cool enough like "Timeless X". You don't choose a name as such "Pussy Willow" or for that matter, Cutearmpit. Strangely, he didn't explain why he chose such a name for his game character. One could only assume he has some sort of fetish we aren't too keen to find out about. Whatever it is, we eventually gave up finding out. As far as I could recall, he didn't explain.

While Tucky and I have gotten used to his peculiar nickname, the rest of the random players who encountered us will be amused just as we did when we first met this guy. After playing together for a couple of months, we got to know one another a little better. We knew Cutearmpit works in a bank and he knew Tucky is getting married later this year and I am a strange, erratic Singaporean (yes, even in games) living in Perth. He had to bear with my random threats to kill someone for Summer heat and my gloats about the beautiful Autumn temperature.

Lately, a Taiwanese girl-gamer also joined us occasionally on dungeon runs. I knew her since the beginning of last Summer and eventually introduced her to our tiny group. She is a funny girl whom I got along well with though her command of English is limited. She plays a Guardian as her main, protecting us with her enchantments. Her Chinese interpretation of the game ticks me off often, such as calling herself a 铁龟 due the nature of her character's class dynamics. Like Cutearmpit, her nickname drew my attention and we got to know each other after I asked her what does her name mean. Her name is Meebao, which she later explained it was meant to be "Rice baby".

All along, Cutearmpit seemed to have little interest in Perth, except for acknowledging the fact or telling random party members kangaroo jokes about me. Lately though, he commented several times about my working routine. He probably noticed it during the couple of public holidays in Singapore, where I had to go to work here in Perth, obviously. When I logged into the game, his first respond was an exclaim that went, "Wah! You home from work so early?" I shrugged it off by telling him, "Uncle, I start work at 7am leh, what are you doing at 7am in Singapore?"

For awhile, he had no response whenever I reminded him of my working hours. On Vesak day, out of nowhere, he told us in the guild chat that he had been really envious of Meebao and I. He pointed out that he saw Meebao in the game at 9am in the morning, still at home preparing to go to work and then me at 4pm in the late afternoon and told us he had to work extended hours like how we know it in Singapore very often. Little did he know Meebao is a pathologist and is planning to semi-retire the next month, working on part time basis. She shared with me she was "sick of working" and want to take a break from her rigorous work routine. When I asked her how is she going to survive with just 1/6 of her pay working PT, she simply told me life is short.

I've been there before. Prolonged envy is not healthy for a person. It breeds unhappiness and a false sense of inadequacy. What Cutearmpit didn't realise was that Meebao and I have similar but uncommon priorities in life. We are ones in many and it was just unfortunate that he has been meeting both of us at the same time on regular basis. What bothers Cutearmpit wasn't the wish to have more time to play the game but a slow painful realisation that "that" is not the only Way. In my position, I am qualified to tell you how easy it is to be engulfed in the Way such that we first assume and eventually accept, that the rest of the world works that way. I'd just need to listen out for the new Singapore in Perth to comment how very silly that the price if diesel is higher than petrol here. Truth to be told, many ex-Singaporeans in Perth remains adamant and occasionally annoyed some way or another about how things "should be" but isn't in Perth. (and the rest of the world, in fact)

It is clear to me how a human mind can be programmed to an entire different reality if one is to be put through a specific routine and being fed a certain paradigm long enough. A newly arrived Singaporean couple proved that right. The lady was a nurse in Singapore and was told too often how easy for healthcare professionals to find work in Perth (or anywhere in the world really) and came with an expectation she could walk into a job in a matter of days. She asked me for advice and told me that "even fast food restaurants are not hiring and I didn't know it is that bad here.") though she was only 2 weeks young here. To come with a preset mentality, the shock couldn't come ruder and has since make it seems harder than it is. In reality, nothing has really changed in Perth. The good and bad times are just in the state of mind. That is coming from someone who came to Perth against the frantic warnings from a friend's uncle, who have been living in Perth for decades, that times were really, really bad in 2011. As far as I am concerned, times are never good. Trust me on that.

"Is the short working hours the reason why you went to Perth?" asked Cutearmpit. I probably came to Perth with a general idea that "things will be better", sold to me by Jen of course. To be fair, no one will leave their home country for another that they don't think they will be better off at. Some eventually returned to where they came from, after they didn't find that rainbow at the back of their minds. Perhaps the bo-chap attitude in me helped me in more ways than I expected. I came with the hope of a better life but I expected it rough and I got both. To ease Cutearmpit's agony, I told him my story briefly. About my work regime, far worse than what he was going through when I was in Singapore. About how I came here hopeless, weary and lost with no friends, little money and a pregnant wife. About how I worked myself to exhaustion with multiple injuries and permanent scars in the early days until he met me online as a persona that seems to work very little and sucking strawfuls of Pina Colada while outplaying him with my Mesmer in PvP despite I am a left-moused player.

Behind anyone seemingly doing well, there is a story about sacrifice. A rich farmer may sacrifice his marriage for want of enlightenment in the jungle. A politician may sacrifice his sanity to live a life of ridiculed puppetry. A salaried worker may live an entire life of financial slavery to chase expensive toys and touring experience. The glamours are never given but as an exchange for something that hollows one out from within. It is simply about picking the sacrificial aspect. In that sense, life has a peculiar knack to select it for us. Randomly, unfortunately. Sometimes the arrangement works naturally for many of us. On occasional cases when they don't, it is important to realise that, we simply have to set it to manual, put it in our hands and select it ourselves.

How many of us would have the courage to self impose a semi-retirement in our 30s, learning to live on 1/6 of our original pay? The keyword here is living on lower pay - not living on savings. So the argument that a pathologist who had earned and set aside enough to do so is invalid. How many of us is willing to live on $800 a month, as an exchange of buying back the precious time we claimed of utmost priority in our life? Must that be an exchange, are these really mutually exclusive? Of course not. It is possible to have lotsa time for your family and have enough financial means to maintain your quality of life. To do so, you'll either need the luck of the devil to win your lottery or sacrifice Security - that's the big S that only a special minority are willing to exchange - to take the risk of setting up business. The fear of the unknown, anxiety and endless worries in exchange of the possibility of having the cake and eat it eventually. The bigger your dreams, the bigger the exchange deal. 

I hope Cutearmpit understands the point I was trying to put across. That life is like hanging on to a monkey bar, to reach out for another, you have to let go an existing - always with the risk of falling.


  1. 2 comments

    1. Uncle Wong would be more miserable if auntie Wong found out he is playing Internet games rather than looking after baby Sarah

    2. Nix, you make sound like a left mouser is in disadvantage. Unless you are using a gaming mouse specially shaped for right hander, otherwise no reason a leftie should have problem since you can change function under CONTROL PANEL for windows pc to decide which button for which function.

  2. Envy is a dangerous emotion. It can both motivate positive and negative feelings and action. It can cause irrational conclusion while not realising most people need hard work and good luck to get where they are.