Thursday, February 12, 2015

Planting a bamboo is insane

Can you imagine sitting still for years, doing the same thing again and again while waiting for the results, if any, to show? People might have called this the definition of insanity - doing the same thing again and again yet hoping for a different results. But there's exactly how a Chinese bamboo tree takes to grow.

Most tree will grow steadily, so you can definitely see progress for the effort of taking care of them and watering them. The Chinese bamboo is different. For the first year, you see nothing. So you water them and take care of them. For the second year, you see nothing. It's alright, you continue to water them. For the third year, you also see nothing. Now, you're starting to feel anxious. Did I plant them correctly? Are they dormant and waiting to burst out of the soil or dead and buried in it? You can't exactly peek inside to observe! For the fourth year, as usual, you see nothing indicating that they are still living. Then, in the fifth year, just when you're about to give up hope, an incredible thing happens. The bamboo shoots break ground and grow to a height of 27 metres in one year!

Some people like to compare investing with fishing. I don't. Fishing sounds so...predatory. I prefer to compare it to gardening. The first few days of planting a seed is the hardest to swallow. You plant it, and everyday you'll go and water and see if there's any progress. Sometimes, after waiting for a long period, you might or might not see results. I ever waited months, watering every day to know all my tomato seeds is dead from the start. It's the best test of patience and discipline. Despite how it sounds, doing the same thing again and again without seeing any progress (might even be a regress) is not easy at all.

Sitting still is not easy.

To overcome this, they used to say we should be motivated. I think to stay motivated like that is insane. Motivation is a positive feedback cycle of seeing positive results from your efforts. If you don't see anything, it's hard to stay constantly positive. I think having a system is better. You just keep doing the same thing day in day out. If you do it, consider that as a job well done! This way, you segregate the results from your efforts and makes it possible to sustain for a much longer period of time. And when you finally see progress, the positive feedback cycle for motivation will continue to feed the system.

That being said, always be ready to give up a foolish venture. What? Doesn't that negate everything I've said?! It takes intelligence to acquire knowledge, but it takes wisdom to know exactly when to apply what knowledge. So what am I saying? Nothing and everything at the same time.


Createwealth8888 said...

For fishing, we have to go with the tide. During low tide we are unlikely to catch big fish. Only few lucky fishermen may catch very few unlucky big fish that overstay.

Some level of market timing and patience is essential to have superior investment return.


la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

Ah! I think you highlighted the essence of comparing fishing to investing, which somehow involves timing the market based on price or intrinsic value or relative value.

Comparing investing to gardening involves putting more effort, waiting for it to grow and bear fruits, creating more seeds for the next season of planting and more fruits and more seeds and so on and on.

Different segment of the same thing :)

SS said...

I had to ask: What if I am a lousy fisherman and a terrible gardener?

la papillion said...


Then I'll ask how do you know you're a lousy fisherman and a terrible gardener?

SS said...

Hi LP,

I find it unbearably tough to pass each day in silence, watching the market and waiting patiently for a suitable time to buy. :(

Definitely not the making of a fisherman or a gardener.

la papillion said...


Then you know the problem - that of being patient. So now you can either practice patience - by doing the activity that requires them, like really go fishing or gardening, or throw your white towel and say give up this investing business. Screw it!

Go and be a trader or totally switch off and invest passively in index/etf! LOL

SS said...

You're right. Maybe I should start with a hobby that breeds patience. LOL

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


We got to know when hold'em; when to fold'em; and when to run!


I think the fishing example suits me better as a trader.

In your gardening example, investors really need to know our stuffs!

Imagine planting a durian tree and expecting quick results!?

You want quick results? Plant acacia or eucalyptus ;)

I knew bamboo grows very fast, didn't know that Chinese bamboo has such an interesting growth cycle!?

See? My little knowledge can do more harm - lucky I not into bamboo planting!

Now for something macabre.

There's a slow and agonizing torture that involves tying a prisoner flat to the ground over a bamboo shoot. I'll stop here.

Used by Japs during WWII and by the Siamese and Malays in the 19th cemtury.

If I'm the prisoner, I'll pray for Chinese bamboo!

darren said...

Haha I've been growing a moneyplant for half a year now.. patience and daily love is definitely needed. For investments, still can implement those lazy/gone fishing/permanent portfolios and just invest and heck care about it for a year. But for plants cannot.

la papillion said...


Haha, I think for trader type, fishing is more appropriate :) But I guess it really depends on which aspect of the craft you're focusing on. For me, I'm focusing on the time period, whereas for fishing, it might be being at the right time and right place for the right fish :)

Didn't know about the bamboo torture...ouch...can imagine...

la papillion said...

Hi retailtrader,

Money plant is quite easy to grow :) For me, I prefer to grow something that I can eat hehe, so far it's chilli and tomato. Maybe I'll grow some veg next time :)

Joyce Leong said...

I'm not interested in gardening and doubt I'll ever want to put a worm through a hook. For me, investing is like drawing... A lot of hours spent, a lot of patience and the skills picked up can bring much bountiful rewards ;)

la papillion said...

Hi Joyce,

Haha! Good analogy! I do draw at times and I agree, it can be quite apt. When u spend more time drawing, for eg the feather of a wing, rather than take a shortcut and ignore the feathers, you end up with a more beautiful and detailed work. In a way, that's like researching deep haha

Sillyinvestor said...

I planted tomotos with my son, it finally grows, then become sickly and I think is only waiting to die now.

You can try again with a bigger pot now and realised you make the mistakes earlier and try to rectify them.

Markets goes in cycles too.

Lizardo said...

Prefer to collect rainwater instead. Sometimes you get more rain, sometimes less. So long as my collection bucket doesn't leak, I will do fine.

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

You're right. We have time to act on mistakes and rectify them again. I also had a batch of tomatoes that completely died, and I learnt my lessons and started a new batch this Jan. All of them are thriving now..still waiting for my first tomato :)

la papillion said...

Hi Lizardo,

Wow, that's new! Using that analogy shows you are more concerned with the overall 'water' that you collect ;)

Rolf Suey said...

Hi LP,

"It takes intelligence to acquire knowledge, but it takes wisdom to know exactly when to apply what knowledge." - Like!

I have no patience of fishing not gardening but I have to agree with the similarities.

To me, teaching is quite alike to investing. It takes effort, time and patience to cultivate, each day you see them improve and grow! The satisfaction is priceless! The difference to fishes and plants are human beings are more difficult to cultivate and has emotions!

la papillion said...

Hi Rolf,

You're right :) Teaching a human is harder because unlike a plant which has only a few variables, there's a lot more complexities and interdependent variables in a human being. What works for one person hardly works for another, and might not work in another setting and time even for the same person!

Actually a lot of pple commented that they have no patience here and in SMOL's blog. Hmm, patience is a matter of focusing on the process instead of the outcome. If the mind is constantly on the outcome and the results, then whatever action one is doing will only seem slow and painful :)