Final Time Blog

Our class discussions from the last several weeks about how we spend our time have influenced my perspectives and the way that I use my time. Every Thanksgiving break and Spring break in my two years at Fordham, I have gone home and spent much of the break studying, since I have consistently had science exams immediately after break. This year, I decided to go home for Easter, and I thought that I would be obligated to study every day in preparation for the next week’s exams. My older brother had also decided at the last minute to come home; he recently graduated from college and is employed and no longer living at home so the last time I saw him was for Christmas. He would only be home for a couple days.

By this time, in our class we had started to speak of Seneca, and his views on the best way to spend time, which was in productivity. We learned about the Sabbath, and how days of rest influenced parts of people’s lives that I originally assumed would not be affected, such as parking schedules in New York. We debated the meaning of rest and free time, and we tried to define what counts as work and what doesn’t count.. We considered the best way to use one’s time, and how we were spending our time then, and how we wanted to spend it in the future, and how these decisions concerning our time would affect our lives.

These considerations were on my mind when I recently had a phone call with my aunt. Her husband, my uncle, passed away unexpectedly during spring break. When it happened, it was a big shock to everyone in our family. This was the first time I talked with my aunt since it happened. I told her I was going home for break and everyone in our immediate family would be in the house together that weekend. I mentioned my tests and said something about studying that weekend, and she stopped me. My aunt said that time passes far too quickly than you realize; the most valuable time, which is the time spent with the people you love, would pass before I knew it. She reminded me that this was a rare occasion when the whole family would be together and I should spend the time with my brother in the short time that he was home. I finally realized how selfish I was being with my time. I actually was planning to travel all the way home to just to put headphones in and study the whole break with little time to talk with, and even just be with my loved ones for a few days, and I was willing to give up this valuable time with family for one test grade that didn’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

Luckily, I listened to my aunt and I chose to relax and enjoy this time with my parents and sister and brother, and participate in family activities with them like coloring easter eggs, and visiting our extended family.

Seneca did not believe that the Sabbath was useful or efficient; he thought a day of rest every week, 1/7 of one’s life, was a waste of time that could be used in a productive way. However, I have to disagree with him. People get caught up in busy schedules and forget the importance of rest, and of free time, to spend as one wishes. During Easter break, resting from work, from studying, led to my greater focus and efficiency in the school week after break. It also allowed me to speak with my family, and catch up on everything we missed about each other’s lives since we last saw each other, and find joy in this time together, which I would have regretted missing.

So, in conclusion, something that I will carry from this class is careful consideration of how I am spending my time and if I think my use of time is fulfilling and if it supports my beliefs of how I should try to live.

Quantity vs Quality of Time

An elderly priest in my parish at home recently passed away. Several months ago, when he was ill and nearing the end of his life, he wrote in a newsletter that he ate dessert every night, and used extra whipped cream; in fact, he put whipped cream on everything!

As the remaining time to live seems to shorten more and more rapidly, knowledge of this transience influences people’s actions, leads them to do things they may not ordinarily think of if they did not have so little time. The seemingly small and silly indulgence of eating lots of whipped cream reveals the ability to find joy during an otherwise challenging time towards the end of one’s life.

A different example of this is that my grandfather moves around the dates of his chemotherapy appointments so that he does not feel nauseated or tired out when relatives visit him. He also reschedules appointments so that they do not fall before or during important times in his family’s lives, such as a grandchild’s first communion or a son’s wedding or a family reunion. Maybe if he went to these predetermined appointments at the times recommended by his doctor, he would live slightly longer. However, he would also would not feel well enough to be there at milestone events and to spend this valuable time in the way that would bring him the most joy.

To give up some quantity of time for quality seems to be a worthwhile trade.                             

“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” commentary

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

“Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas is my favorite poem. It is about a son asking his father not to leave even though it is time for him to die. He compares the end of life to the end of a day, to the setting of the sun as the sky grows dark. He also speaks of what different kinds of people made of their lives and how they responded to the imminence of life coming to a close.

Thomas writes of past deeds and their effects, as well as regret for those that did not occur. The “good men” grieve because their actions “might have danced in a green bay;” the poet probably wants his father to remember all of the things he once wanted to do, and do regain vigour now so he can accomplish them before his death.

He writes of wild men who “caught and sang the sun in flight” they seem to have lived with reckless abandonment because they were aware of the shortness of their lives. However, even these men mourned when they could no longer see the sun above them.

Since Thomas refers to death as the “good night,” this shows that he knows our time living on earth must be limited, in the same way that each day must end. However, he may think that his father has not yet made the most out of his time; he tells his father that other men passionately yearn to continue to live and his father should not succumb to his mortality. There is only one voice in this poem; the speaker’s father either cannot or chooses not to respond. His son is consumed with grief of what he knows will come and struggles to accept his father’s fate. When I read this poem, I consider how I will use the finite time that I have.

Song Review: A Sunday Smile

“A Sunday Smile” (written by Zach Condon)

(Encore. Une fois!)

All I want is the best for our lives my dear,

And you know my wishes are sincere.

What’s to say for the days I cannot bear

A Sunday smile you wore it for a while.

A cemetery mile we paused and sang.

A Sunday smile you wore it for a while.

A cemetery mile we paused and sang.

A Sunday smile and we felt true. (and)

We burnt to the ground

Left a view to admire

With buildings inside church of white.

We burnt to the ground left a grave to admire.

And as we reach for the sky, reach the church of white.

A Sunday smile you wore it for a while.

A cemetery mile we paused and sang.

A Sunday smile you wore it for a while.

A cemetery mile we paused and sang.

A Sunday smile and we felt true. (and)

“A Sunday Smile” by Beirut seems to be a weaving, textured, pleasantly jumbled mess crammed into three fleeting minutes. The lazy conversation of voice and trumpet, of ukulele and accordion create a lilting melodiousness that inclines the listener to sway or nod and become lost in one’s imagination, perhaps enveloped in distant memories or transported in dreams to an unfamiliar past.

This song creates perceptions of vagueness; part of this comes from the muted brass, the lead and backup singers joining in at slightly (noticeably) different times, the lyrical phrases about indefinite periods such “for a while” and “paused” and the words, “encore. une fois!” (meaning “once again” in French) which, strangely are not preceded by anything. This muddled kind of hypnosis it evokes creates the feeling of circumstances in which one does not know what time it is or what day; furthermore, it does not seem to matter when it is. This song engenders imaginings of a weary traipse on a hazy summer day filled with intense heat and tall grass and mosquito bites.

A church is mentioned; this may cause one to think of heaven, and of exceeding spatial and temporal bounds. In contrast with the everlasting heavens, Sundays are set periods of the earth’s rotation. A smile on a Sunday is even more transient.

Whatever was burned to the ground and what is now in the grave symbolizes the memory of something that existed in a past time and was wonderful; now it is no longer there.

The simple lyrics of “A Sunday Smile” reflect the song’s bittersweet theme of remembering what once brought joy and is now gone, and of periodically experiencing a quiet shadow of that joy through recollection, and of others’ perception of that feeling as it is translated into a faint facial expression.

“Hand-Painted Dream Photographs”

Spanish artist Salvador Dali used an interesting creative method; he would fall asleep sitting in a chair and holding a key with a plate beneath it. After he fell asleep, the spoon would fall from his grasp and clatter onto the plate, waking him up. He then immediately painted the images that had passed before his eyes in his dreams. Here is one of Dali’s “hand-painted dream photographs,” titled “The Persistence of Memory.” (This painting can be seen in MOMA.) People come up with a variety of interesting interpretations of the meaning of this work. some say the large mass in the center is a morphed self portrait of Dali; the ants supposedly symbolize decay; the drooping, quality of the clocks could represent the manner in which time seems to pass in subconsciousness. Physical chemist Ilya Prigogine asked Dali if this work was related to Einstein’s theory of relativity, and Dali humorously responded that his inspiration was a Camembert, (a kind of cheese) turning to liquid in the sun. I suppose that Dali would be the only person to know the true, serious symbolism of the objects in his painting, but since they are evoked from his brief period of dreaming, perhaps not even Dali consciously knew what this meant, and maybe it does not need to have a concrete exact meaning. Many times, people forget dreams minutes or even seconds after waking, but Dali extends their temporality, transforming the transient image into a permanent legacy.

Works Cited

Buffery, Vicky. “Camembert to Clocks: Dali’s Genius on Show in Paris.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 20 Nov. 2012,

Dalí, Salvador. “Salvador Dalí. The Persistence of Memory. 1931 | MoMA.” Lee Bontecou. Untitled. 1959 | MoMA,

Sunday Sauce

Every week throughout my childhood, and now when I come home from school in the fleeting Summer months, my mother makes “Sunday sauce” for our family. This meal consists of rigatoni, “Grandmom peas,” which are from my Great-Nona’s recipe, and, of course, the sauce, which is not as sweet, not as smooth, and not as quick and easy to serve as the typical jar pasta I empty onto pasta late at night and shovel into my mouth mechanically as I cram hurriedly for an exam the next day. My mother’s sauce, (which her mother-in-law once taught her how to make, and her mother before her, and probably my Great-Nona’s mother as well, and this likely continued further back for who knows how long,) is made laboriously from chopped and peeled tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes, and it simmers for hours before dinner. This is a tradition that has been carried out with love and care over many generations, before in Sicilia and now in America.

Everyone in my family is busy with hectic schedules of work and school and household tasks all day, but all of this ceases for a time when we gather to the kitchen table each Sunday night to share a meal together. There is comfort in this ritualistic consistency, in stopping everything one is doing to be with loved ones and converse with and listen to them.

After my brother grew up, graduated from college, and moved to a different city, my family slowly adjusted to the empty space at the table; at least six months passed before I finally remembered to set out silverware for only four instead of five people. When I left for college nearly two years ago, the remaining number at the Sunday dinner table shrank to only three: my parents and my little sister. Still, my family continues this simple tradition, and when my sister will inevitably grow up and leave the house, and when I am still faraway at school or at work, I will imagine my mother and father eating together at a table that is far too big and too empty for only two people.

There is a little bit of sadness in the truth that children must grow up and leave home and make dinner at their own kitchen tables and break away from old traditions to make new ones. However, although the years have already begun to pass too quickly, and my childhood has flown by, no matter where or when or in what context my family gathers to spend time together, we will be able to recall memories of long ago Sunday dinners.  

Input vs Output of Time

I have the next thirteen to fifteen years of my life planned out; they can be arranged in a sequential list in which each box must be checked off in order to proceed to the subsequent step.

◻Bachelor’s degree: four years. During this time, take certain number of credit hours in the sciences, study two hours at the very least for every hour spent in a science class, volunteer, do research, do clinical work under the supervision of a physician, prepare for MCAT, do extracurriculars that make you stand out from every other pre-med applicant who completed all of the previous steps listed, apply to medical schools.

◻Upon (not improbable) rejection from medical schools: option one: two or more years of a post-baccalaureate program to spend time redoing the same classes you spend four years working on in the past.

◻Option two (instead of or in addition to option one): Gap year (fill this time with meaningful research or clinical research to show improvement as an applicant)

◻Medical School: four years. During this time, study approximately seven hours each day; double this time to fourteen hours a day in preparation for the STEP exam.

◻Residency: three to five years.

◻Fellowship: one year.

Is spending this much of my life in school and studying a complete waste of time? Couldn’t I be using more of the time I have right now to help people if this is my overall end goal? Sometimes I wonder this, especially after spending so much time studying for an exam, only to receive a disappointing grade that before my eyes appears to degrade the likelihood of future events that must occur in order for me to become a physician.

Although I sometimes feel discouraged and trapped in such a seemingly immutable, mechanical sequence of events, I will be liberated from this sort of “time vacuum” when I am finally able to dedicate my time more fully to medical service to patients: in meaningful interactions with vulnerable people who seek support; in lessening pain, discomfort, and worry; in improving sometimes the length, but more often and arguably more importantly the quality of the time people have in their lives.

The input of time towards my studies now and throughout the next several years seems small and insignificant compared to its inevitable reward.

Timing and Rhythm in Music

Katie Ronsivalle

Attentiveness to timing is arguably one of the most integral aspects of drumming. I am fascinated by the seemingly limitless number of ways one can shift timing to produce a completely different “feel,” whether one is playing a particular style of music, a specific song, or even a few notes in a single measure that differs in an unexpected way from the reliably consistent pulse holding a song together.

To play the bodhran, an Irish percussion instrument, the basic rhythm that continues throughout the song is a “triplet” which is what is sounds like- a “ONE-two-three ONE-two-three” cyclic, pattern. There can be variations; sometimes extra hits are thrown in an instant before or after one of the three main hits, or rolls, or slight changes in speed; but one always returns to the same constant, circular, gently swinging rhythm.

A different effect is produced by the timing of the drums in Scottish bagpipe and drum music; there is still a partial lilting, almost relaxed feel that comes from the “off-beat” hits, which is caused by slight hesitations in the middle of a measure. However, each hit on the beat is usually staccato, (more clipped,) and the sharp sound of these notes which terminates the even buzz of the rolls gives a sense of finality after every interval of a few seconds.

If measure after measure played on the bodhran could be drawn on a timeline, it would look like a continually looping line; in contrast, measures played in a Scottish band would appear more like squares placed adjacent to each other and spaced evenly apart. Each of these rhythms is so distinctive and specific to its respective style of music that if I played a typical bodhran rhythm on a drum set, or even a ‘pipe and drum music rhythm on a triangle, one would be able to identify the style that it corresponds to.