Project 1 – The Ice Breaker
When I was a kid, I played soccer a lot. There was this little plastic ball we would buy at the neighborhood mama shop for maybe 50 cents and we would kick it about during recess and after school, all the chinese kids against the malay kids. We played very politically incorrect matches. When I got into secondary school, I naturally wanted to join the soccer team, but it didn’t turn out that way.
I found out I had been assigned to gymnastics. I had visions of sissy boys prancing about in tights. I didn’t want that, so I skipped the gymnastics and stayed back in school instead to pass the time. My parents had no clue of course, and I was happier for it. I ran around playing an improvised form of catch which also involved throwing chalk at each other. Classroom would be home base, complicated rules. I folded paper aeroplanes and threw them at the columbarium across the road. I spent a lot of time in the library and the green sofas. I played soccer of course.
Finally, after a few months, the Head of PE called me in to meet him. Even if you don’t like it, try it out, you might grow to like it, he said. He asked me, will you attend gymnastic training sessions? To a small kid, he was this big intimidating guy. With tears in my eyes, I promised him, yes, I would.
I lied. I didn’t do another handstand or a somersault during my time in school. I spent 4 glorious years playing soccer on the astroturf, whether in the scorching sun, or in the pouring rain, and I remember the teachers would yell at us to stop. I had a lot of fun.
That’s the first thing I learnt. Do what you love. I certainly didn’t regret it.
A few years later, I was in JC. Do what you love right. So, I was in all boys school, and when I got into JC, suddenly there were all these girls around. You can imagine, I was pretty excited. I didn’t take my studies too seriously, so at the end of the year, it necessarily came down to this. I failed my F maths paper. I think I got 40 marks. I was gutted. I was given a second chance to take the paper again. Worse. 30 marks. I thought my life was ruined, I’d be forced to drop a subject, I’d never go to university, and so on. Turns out I didn’t have to drop the subject. I spent the rest of my second year in college studying a bit more seriously.
Do what you love. Yes, but there are also prices to pay in life, you can’t blithely ignore them. Even now, whatever you’re doing, think about the price you’re paying. There is a price for everything. Decide whether or not you want to pay.
A few years later, I’m on exchange in California. Going on exchange is great. Your grades do not matter, you just have to pass all the papers you’re taking.
The problem was, there was this maths paper I was taking, and there was a real possibility I was going to fail. So there I was stressing out and cycling to campus one day. I was approaching a roundabout, I spotted another student approaching at the same pace. Do I slow down, do I speed up? It’s like you’re walking in a narrow doorway, and someone’s walking towards you from the other side, and you’re trying to avoid him. And you both move left, then right. Yeah, it was like that. She screamed in mock horror as we were about to crash, and we both laughed. At that moment, it didn’t matter that I might fail my paper. It was just two strangers having a good laugh.
These are some of the things I’ve learnt and that I try to live by: Do what you love. Think about the price you have to pay. Finally, if you’re going to crash, laugh anyway.