Chapter 3: The Decision

They all said or implied I was crazy, differing in just the extent. Why would anyone take on a series of tasks he has never done before? It was a straightforward decision for me. First, it was fulfilling my side of bargain with Savvy Steve. That was a solid factor alone. Another important reason I live to believe is that I should never give up on an opportunity to learn. I strongly believe life reflects gaming in this aspect. Whatever points you put into, you improve. In reality, whenever we pay someone to do something for us, we learn nothing. The rationale is that we should be spending time sharpening what we do best in, such that we can excel in that area and in turn maximise our earnings. However, only a tiny percentage of us have the discipline to do exactly that. Most of us would be munching on popiahs or paying someone to do something that we could have done ourselves and improve our skills.

The reason why anyone would say, "I can't cook for nuts," is because he or she had passed shitload of opportunities to change that. None of your friends who can cook damn well "just happened" to be good cooks. They did the dirty work and put in the hours. That is why they can whip up a nutritious meal with 3 ingredients and you have to pay someone to feed you.

I never believe in the notion of building a dream house. If anything, the builders and tradies did it. You did nothing but splash the money. It will only be a dream house if you did (a big) part of the dirty work. For then the shack is ritualised by your blood, fortified by your sweat. Else it would be nothing but a shell of facade, devoid of spirit.

It didn't matter that the shack was owned by Savvy Steve. Since I have agreed to my side of bargain, I shall treat it like my own. I have gotten the builder to erect the skeleton (would have done it myself if they allowed me to) and I will stitch the flesh up piece by piece. It may not turn out looking fantastic but the learning is limitless. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Who in the right mind will pass?

I cannot believe many actually told me it was a stupid idea to use 2 weeks of my AL to do stuff. For "I could have use it for holidays." That is obvious but thank you. Or "I could have use the time to make money and use the money to pay others to do it." If that makes any sense to you. The fact is, most of these fucking tradies charge a higher rate than I am earning in the first place. So if I were to do their work, I actually end up financially better.

The best one yet - "If I were to do it myself, I would do it so slowly - or fuck it up so bad that it would be cheaper to hire someone to do it so that I can move in sooner and save on rental yada yada yada." That brings us back to the first point of the post. If you had learnt how to pick up a wok years before..... If you had learnt anything that you were given the chance to, what is there left to be fearful of?

Years ago, I have already decided to ditch that "Everything swee swee" Singaporean mentality. The person who convinced me was a PRC casual worker in my factory who worked as a researcher as his day-job. Back then, he revealed that he had 4 houses in his portfolio. In order to maximise his earnings, he had to minimise his "downtime." So he each time he acquired a run-down house sitting on a piece of valuable land at a good location, he converted that to his personal home. His previous home would become an investment property (IP) that he could rent out immediately. A newly acquired home will require the owner to live in it for 6 months before he can rent it out. No problem for the PRC gentleman. He took that as an opportunity to fix up the house as his family lived in it. By the time (sometimes it took him years) he was done, he was ready to purchase another run down house to fix up and rent out his valued added, self renovated house at a good location.

The lesson I learnt from him was not to acquire property after property. In fact, instead of learning something new, I learnt to unlearn my old Singaporean attitude. The "everything zho swee swee" mentality may be a mantra for many but to me, it was surplus to requirement. If anything, I found it a stumbling block to the route of possibilities. 

The first job as a trade assistant in the steel yard changed me forever. It exposed me in perpetual noise, dirt and weariness that nothing seemed like a big deal to me anymore. These days, I wouldn't flinch if I had to put my palms in a toilet bowl, let alone resting on a toilet bowl in order to reach the tricky crevices around the WC to give it a fresh coat of paint.

Yes, I have been forewarned. Disastrous finishing, back breaking routines, crooked pavings, a broken spirit. I am not afraid. I found out why so many of us are afraid of attempting an unfamiliar task. The core reason being fearful of our mistakes. Thus, the most important thing is to learn how to solve, if not foresee problems. Take for example, if I learn how to fix up a bad painting job, repair an uneven wall, patch up a wrongly drilled hole, there is nothing much to fear about. I can screw things up badly but I can always come back to get it redone for the better next time. We call that "fixing defects" back there.

The decision has been made. It's showtime.