Thursday, August 30, 2012

Goal-Setting, Now that I Think of It

           My generation was raised by the success generation that told us time and time again that goal-setting and decision-making will be the most important skills to master young.  So you have a dream?  They say, facing a class of 1st graders, hands white with chalk; let’s break it down into parts.  Let’s make it realistic.  It starts simple – today learn to tie your shoes, tomorrow learn to tie your roller skates.   Facing a class of college Freshmen, the make-progress mantra becomes strikingly more complex – today enroll in classes you are interested in, next year declare a major.  Time passes. 

Somehow this process is supposed to prevent those of us who teeter so close to being dead-in-the-water from flailing too far behind our furiously treading peers.  It’s supposed to be infallible.  A path to success.  A panacea for the meaningless life that we all seem to be burdened with from the start.  Moreover, it intends to instill meaning into the simple-ness of everyday tasks that seem to consume our meager time.

 An U-Bahn (subway) ticket.  I still don't speak German well,
so I can still giggle that it's good for "1 Fahrt".

Moving to Vienna, I’m beginning to find this fix-all process much more complex than the input::result I was promised.  Certain factors come into play that exact bigger effect than I would have liked to think.  As always, I’m learning that things are much more much more complicated than how I was lead on to believe.   But of course, when I first stood up on my roller-skates, I never expected to fall.

My rough critique from last week led me to do two irrational things.  First, I asked for an interview to do a teaching internship over the next semester, having no experience or interest in teaching (especially not children).  Second, I decided to push on and take the class out of that sadistic urge I call curiosity.  I just had to know what kind of repertoire was ‘simple’.

I use the word ‘irrational’ because neither of these things (at the time) seemed to have lain in the path of any of my plans.  Granted, being completely rejected wasn’t, either, but I’m a proponent of the life-philosophy that I call “ruthlessly improvising”.  And “ruthlessly improvising” I am.  This whole goal-setting thing?  Out the window, smeared across the cobblestone streets of Johannesgasse.  And decision making?  More like having no more time to hold your toe in the water, time to hold your breath and jump.

Where I go to school.  A palace.  On Johannesgasse.  I don't have
a picture of the cobblestone streets.  Yet. 

The result?  Reward, surprise, anticipation.  Excitement.  My interview for a teaching position went unbelievably well.  I’m getting placed in a school of teenagers and adults who want to learn English (among other things).  The woman who runs the teaching internship took a particular interest in me, knowing I play guitar, and is showing me an artists’ street market on Saturday.  My eyes must have been as big as oranges when she said “I have some people you need to meet.  Bring your ukulele and sketchbook.”   Insert here a giddy squeal.

 My only experience so far with Viennese markets - the Naschmarkt.
Near my apartment, it is similar to a farmer's market except more
upscale.  I expect that this is not what I should expect for this weekend.

And my music course?  Surprisingly within my ability. I’m much less intimidated now that I have my repertoire and have seen the repertoire of others.  The woman who criticized me may have been blunt, but she has good taste.  I’m looking forward to a Saint-Saens piece with flute, a Shumann piece for voice and four-hands piano, and… a musical theater piece?  No experience with that, either, but I’ll take it.  More than anything, I’m really eager to meet my fellow music students and work collaboratively with them in this context.  The work may be demanding, but not so demanding.  Really, it’s just more ruthless improvisation.

Had I chosen to goal-set my way through this, these two choices would have been frightening and thoroughly disappointing.  But moving to Vienna has resulted in a surprising discovery – the decomposition of a set standard for my behavior.  When my interviewing instructor asked me “So, who is Rebeccah?”  I answered only with that which I knew for certain – she’s from Minnesota, she likes playing guitar and drawing in her sketchbook.  And she apparently loves to challenge herself.  And now she’s looking forward to a series of unplanned experiences that have nothing to do with ‘life goals’.  Whatever those are.

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