Perhaps I should start off by saying that the extent of my superstition extends to not kicking incense ashes, the possibility of an afterlife, but ends before astrological considerations (I once fainted when someone dressed as a ghost woke me up during NS).
Fortune telling, however, will be the personal topic of discussion today.
Approximately 1 year ago in Guangzhou, China, my aunt + cousins and I were touring a temple, and together we took a 抽签 / fortune stick drawing test. The details are very vaguely with me – it was a 上签 / good fortune, and as far as I was concerned there was quite a bit of cold reading involved in the areas of relationships and studies (supposedly .good, I can’t remember). The fortune teller/interpreter also commented favourably on Singaporean’s bilingualism.
The one point he highlighted went along these lines – that towards work I should be more mature, or verbatim I still maintained a 小孩子脾气 (literally child’s temperament), which was elucidated as a fear of taking up promotions and higher posts. Clearly, being still a student, this struck me as odd as the standard route to Pharmacy would still include 2 1/2 years and another 9 months of pre-registration before going out into the wild, as I may say.
Coincidence or not, shortly after returning, I was pre-emptively dealt a grade 7 viola student who, incidentally, had signed up for auditions for a local music school. She went on to take her ABRSM grade 8 and passed, and has since gone on to continue studies with one of my previous teachers. She currently still owes me a play-through of her solo Bach.
Now, 祸不单行 (disasters don’t happen alone), and I went on to play for a couple of concerts with this student/ex-student, the first of which was moderately uneventful. The second was high-key and very rushed, and highlighted what the fortune teller had said. 2 reading sessions, 3+1 rehearsals and 3 nights of concerts summed up the schedule, while the logistics were framed by a different venue for each type of session (reading, rehearsal, concert) and insufficient personnel. Being the very
diligent violist (and being assured time and again of staying in the viola section) I made light of the situation after bringing up the orchestra’s problems with the repertoire and player availability, and resigned myself to a standard violist’s situation.
Then I got switched to 1st violin.
Also, I was supposed to lead.
Just like a scene right out from a very bad viola joke, I received this notification in my absence immediately after (teaching) my violin lessons. What ensued was an eclectic mixture of horror, amusement and amazement, with dashes of “wat” and a hint of “I told you so… wait”. To punctuate that realisation, a flurry of SMSes from the viola and violin 2 sections clamoured for my attention and my handphone’s message space.
I really did not want to accept. It wasn’t a case of really wanting to reject it either, as it would mean forsaking the orchestra and/or certain groups (but not others), but just then I felt like an accidental social escort.
I did not remember that piece advice throughout the entire concert, or even for the week after. I just know that I did as slipshod a job as my situation entitled me to and the show
(must (have(?)) went on. I may have just been paranoid or played the boy who cried wolf because the production team was pleased and even sent a pleasant letter presenting just how pleased they were.
It was only several days later (and a few before this one) when I remembered.
Perhaps, to put the above story in context, it was decided earlier, in a similarly impromptu fashion (but in this case I had had slightly more mental preparation) that I would be leading the orchestra for next March’s concert, barring any virtuoso appearing from Fiddlersland who would kindly relieve me of that position. That gave me about 6 months to comprehend my situation before concert night, with the lack of 1st violins being my prime restraining order of reason.
In contrast, this case was a blitz to me, with less time to consider than the average case of euthanasia and leaving the viola section about 2 strong before reinforcements were hastily gathered from Violistsland (and not a moment too soon! author’s note: thanks).
In the juxtaposition of this year’s events, it occurred to me that any difficulty I met outside my comfort zone was not just met with apprehension, but a certain degree of rebellion and stubborn knee-jerking. I was more than ready to abandon ship at each point, in exponentially increasing fashion with relation to the audacity of each situation. As things turned out, I was blinded by my 小孩子脾气 more than anything else, not that I advocated the rationality involved, but when life gives you lemons, you either get sour or you get going, and whether you make lemonade, lemon pie, meringue or
lemonparty lemon tea is secondary.
Perhaps, just twopence for thought, and a penny for humility:
A big man has no time really to do anything but just sit and be big.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
Audentes fortuna iuvat (Fortune favours the brave)
– Publius Vergilius Maro