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What I learnt from folding 1 000 origami cranes

21 June 2021 •

By: Greg Wellness

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would, if a woodchuck could chuck wood. 

That said, the real answer is estimated at about 318kgs a day. But who knows. Maybe if the woodchuck had gone to the Woodchuck School of Engineering, he could have devised a machine to aid him in his chucking of said wood? Or perhaps he had a meeting heavy day, so that amount of wood to chuck is unrealistic?

The point is, only the woodchuck knows.

We all struggle with productivity and pacing. Some days I hit the ground running, ticking things off of my list with the ferocity of a thousand woodchucks. Some days I require a one-to-one ratio of caffeine to blood in my arteries even to function. Either way, the important thing is to be kind to yourself and true to your inner woodchuck. They know what’s achievable.

Three years ago, with a few months to go to my wedding, my fiancée and I chanced upon the Japanese legend of senbazuru, which involves the folding of 1,000 origami cranes to be granted a wish of longevity. Beyond appealing to the nerd I am that enjoys origami, the sentiment seemed apt. So we set off. As with all fun spousal projects, step one was math. So I folded a single crane, timed it, and figured out how many hours of work we were in for. “Hours” turned out to be “days”. Actually, “days” were more like “months”. Ok.

Regardless, we pressed on, aiming to fold 100 cranes each per week for the coming couple of months. Now remember, this was a time before Covid, when there was actually fun stuff one could do in their spare time. Anyways. The math checked out. The perseverance, however, came into question. As the deadline drew nearer, and the weekly output deficit grew ever larger, it was time for a change. Maybe 300 cranes is cool enough? Nah. What if I just fold faster? Ok, now that 100% does not look like a crane so much as a scrunched up serviette. 

There eventually came a time when I realised it isn’t about being fixated on, and in turn intimidated by, the end product. The task in its entirety may seem impossible, but if you break it down into components and trust your process, it once again looks achievable. What is important is how you approach it along the way. Patience tested, productivity proved. Stick to your guns and you’ll get there. Folding cranes was not the issue; literal toddlers can do it. What was really tested was my commitment to a cause, and I learned a lot about myself in something so simple. Do not overcommit, it will not impress anyone. Rather set out what you can actually achieve, and do it damn well.

Origami Chandelier

Every day we face challenges at Byte Orbit. I am comforted by the fact that it is home to the most capable group of humans I have ever been privileged enough to work amongst. What we as a team can achieve is truly staggering. How quickly can we achieve? Only the woodchuck knows. 

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21 June 2021
By: Greg

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