Heart Strings

Adam Chan, who makes customised steel-string guitars, chats about his passion in life.

By Edmund Wee      1 July 2020

Craftsmanship is often linked to the pursuit of technical precision and perfection. How much of a perfectionist are you?

Honest work above perfect work – I stick by this motto. In steel-string guitars, there are areas that demand precision because it could mean making a guitar that is enduring or one that has a short life span.

There are also aspects that the use of intuition and feel override the perfect ruler. If perfection doesn’t exist, it would make no sense to be a perfectionist, wouldn’t it? Craftsmanship is not the pursuit of perfection, nor is it just about technical precision. The masterpiece made by a craftsman should be as precise as it should be.

It should also communicate aesthetics to its beholders, seductively etched in their minds to the point that they have to possess the masterpiece for the itch to stop.

How important is passion in general?

Pragmatism has been deeply rooted in Singapore culture. For those who want to live their lives “abundantly”, they should have come across this fuzzy thing called passion and inadvertently would have wrestled it in their heads. If passion wins, they may one day, with discipline and enthusiasm, find their calling.

To know just the importance of passion in life is irrelevant. It is about acceptance. To accept that being alive isn’t about ticking check boxes but to take the risk, fulfil the responsibilities, acknowledge the fear, be interested, do what is necessary, make it work, to serve and not be served.

Don’t get caught up by only outcomes. That said, it’s not the same as going YOLO.

What advice do you have for Singaporeans who want to pursue their passion in life?

Use passion only to ignite. Prepare yourself for the long haul. Take discipline as your daily bread. And use enthusiasm to remind yourself that you are but human.

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