Little by little

reddirtlattes/ April 9, 2018/ Gulf Islands, Canada/ 7 comments


My silence is so full.

In between hands reaching for me, my every moment heavy with things to do, care for, tend to, I steal chances, seconds, hidden moments behind doors. I am diving deep in these hidden moments, deep into my nights, into words, literature. 

I have been inching my way towards a degree for what seems forever. 

I remember years ago, when having to start all over again, after leaving Columbia University and settling into a school in London, feeling like it was impossible. 

I asked my husband how I could do it all? Keep moving all over the world, raise our children, and get a degree? I told him it would take years as I would only be able to do a little at a time. 

My husband said, the time will pass anyway. 

Those words have pushed me along. Those words have pulled me when I felt like I had no more nights to give to theory to learn and books to memorize. 

The time will pass anyway. 

How perfect for all of us to think about that. Days, months, years will still keep coming, if we are lucky, so even if it’s little by little imagine what you can have at the end of an endeavor.

One paragraph a day and years later you have a novel.

One newly discovered meal a week and perhaps the next year you have your own cookbook. 

One chord a week on an instrument and years later music will flow from your soul.

Time will pass anyway.

My last exams are only weeks away. Some years I could take three courses, some I was only able to inch out one. But I kept on going, little by little. The time has kept passing and here I am all these many, many years later about to have my degree. 

Back I go to Tolstoy and Cervantes, Saramago and Rushdie, Chinua Achebe and Dorris Lessing, so happily swimming in them, in the past, in times when space seemed so much more tangible, the world before our every seconds were filled with the touch of a button.

I will be sad to leave this study which has been my companion for so very long. But I am excited to find a new passion to walk in time with. Even if it’s just little by little. 

“We think we have arrived at the end of the road, but it is only a bend opening onto a new horizon and new wonders.” –The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, Jose Saramago





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  1. What an inspiring post. “The time will pass anyway.”

    After almost 20 years I went back to university to finish my degree – switching from psychology to English. I didn’t have children and I wasn’t moving but I was working full time so it took three and a half years.

    1. Thank you so much and what an inspiration you are! It’s never never too late.

  2. Sabrina, in this post I will put on my professor’s cap on without being too erudite. In examining your life, as a women perpetually ‘on the go’, interspersed with making time to stand still and ‘smell the roses’ (as my father used to say), questioning why, who, and what is, time in a particular place seems fixed and absolute. It isn’t so. Time and space has a long body of investigation in the fields of science, astrophysics, politics, philosophy, anthropology, and religion.

    It is called the space-time continuum. Its’ stars bear the name of Immanuel Kant, Albert Einstein, and Martin Buber. Three philosophers, one, Martin Buber, is also an everyman. Without being too esoteric, we tend to view time as taking place in a particular place and seems fixed. But Einstein demonstrated this is not so in his General Theory of Relativity. Time is relative to a place and is only momentary. Kant maintained that time and place are forms of all human intuition in which all the objects of the universe consist within. Buber looked at its relativity and its relationship with the holy or divine.

    Time never stays the same beyond a moment, is relative to that moment, helps define that moment, and then moves on into the future dimension. So, you keep moving all over the world, pursuing and suspending, and then pursuing your pursuit of a college degree in the humanities, literature, I presume. You are concerned over whether you will finish, but you are buoyed by your husband’s mantra that ‘time will pass anyway’. To which I add ‘for the moment.

    I now return to the space-time continuum. One cannot label it by such appellations as: ‘if it flies away’, ‘what a waste or loss of time’, ‘I’ll never get on and finish my degree’, or what would my life have been like if I just finished the degree or study?’. Time as a moment in a particular place has no special meaning except for what you make of it (This is pure Schwartz, the former wannabe philosopher).

    Don’t ascribe to the temptation to feel guilt, remorse, wondering, or sense of loss or accomplishment. Time is never lost. It always will be on its journey to become. It is not rigidly tied to a particular place or moment.

    In my generation, I followed the convention of going straight through my education with a momentary lapse in being paid to go around the world in service to my country. But later in my career, more and more of my students were older, delayed their formal education, and came back to school. Today, it is not uncommon for students to take at least a fifth year off from college to pursue whatever interests them. Some take many years off in hiatus. My grandson is graduating high school in May with almost a year of college under his belt. He plans to finish one more year and then take some time off to further his career, and then finish college. Different time, different place, different generation.

    Doing this spatial distribution, for whatever reason, does not diminish or demean learning that takes place. It doesn’t count that some may look at your education or learning as a marker for your self-worth or significance for learning. If anything, your studying piecemeal is enhanced by your never never ending new experiences and movement in space. Your learning is not marked by an ‘end time’ culminating in a certificate of recognition or diploma. Your learning is marked by your internal sense of gratification, excitement by your journey, and by putting it to useful purpose.

    Don’t worry about how long it takes. As your husband correctly says, “Time will pass anyway.”
    Your learning never stops, and its context is what gives it meaning, to you, by you, and for you. As a moment in time, it helps define your experience as an expatriate.

    During that period of time, you have grown, became a mother, faced innumerable threats to your safety, yet was relatively unscathed and undiminished. You know yourself better. You learned the usefulness of stillness and silence. You will know the exultation of facing constant challenges. as you continue to learn. All around you, your husband and your two little ones also will learn. You should be proud that you have ‘A life worth living’. Seymour Schwartz

    1. I am proud, Seymour, and will be even prouder when this is completed. Just weeks to go now and whew!

  3. Wow, congratulations Sabrina. Such a terrific accomplishment for you personally! And you are very talented and wise, so this is just another one for the mantle!

  4. “Time will pass anyway” is a startling thought. One of those that’s obvious but only after someone else has thought of it. I stumbled across this the other day and it’s stuck with me enough that I wanted to say thanks. I don’t know what your degree course is but I hope it all goes brilliantly well.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping back in to share this with me, William. I am so happy my words touched you.

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