Desperate and stupid, and other mistakes I make


Susceptibility to fantastic claims and to results that look incredibly promising is not affected so much by how reasonable or how rational you are (or think you are), but by how desperate you are for the type of success and the associated rewards of success that are promised.

I regret

1. that I have been so receptive in the past almost three years to promises and stories of great wealth in a relatively short time;

2. that I always shared my naïve expectations with people close to me, and in the process undermined my credibility in their eyes;

3. that I continued to make promises of visits to family – by “April, or maybe June” followed by “September … or maybe by Christmas”;

4. that I did not put more effort, starting in May 2006, into making sure I never earned less than NT$30,000 per month from teaching English; fact is, my income dropped far below that level quite some time ago, and I have been suffering the consequences ever since.


I recently had the insight that I have taken actions and started projects since February 2006 like one who has discovered a new religion: the religion of Making Money from Home.

I still believe in the possibility, but I would be dishonest if I did not admit that I have made mistakes. I was desperate and stupid, and this has been a combination that has left me without much to show for the past thirty months.

I end this note with a thought from last night: I am close, and I do not mean Moses-on-the-mountain-that-will-never-enter-the-Promised-Land type of close; I am close, and I will enter the Promised Land.


It sometimes feels like I am still fighting for the privilege to write, as if I should justify the value I attach to my writing to people close to me who want to say, “How can you talk about writing if you’re not making money?”

Or, am I finding it hard to justify the value I place on my writing to myself while I am struggling to keep my head above water?


Saw some young gang members on their scooters again this evening – flinging their scooters around the corner with some well-practised swagger. All of them sporting cheap white helmets, and matching fashionable outfits.

I made my usual remarks about people who find strength in the group, people who are willing to wear the exact same white headgear as badges of membership versus the competent, intelligent man or woman standing alone, who does not need group membership, or the rules or approval of the group.

A short distance down the road later, I wondered: What is my problem with these youths? They generally leave me alone, and I leave them alone. They don’t look for trouble with me, and I do not look for trouble with them.

Then I realised: I envy them. I envy them the friendship, the brotherhood, the camaraderie they enjoy with others like them. I desire what they have, and because I do not have it, I always have a comment to make.

Wow. A breakthrough.


The mistakes we make on any regular day in any normal waking hour repeat dozens or even hundreds of times to put us in a situation we wish was different. And we believe ourselves time and again when we tell ourselves and others that we just made “this one mistake”.