A simple image, but hard to remember. Knowledge doesn’t come instantly. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it just makes better. There is no line in the sand, because sand shifts.
My kids have entered the Peace Corps and I have quoted this wisdom from Piet Hein, WWII freedom fighter and mathemetician, in the days before they flew off. Reading the blogs of other new volunteers, I can see it is a lesson they are learning. Things do take time when the familiar clues of progress are absent, when the language is different, when the expectations of others are out of sync from the expectations of self. Time collapses in retrospect and there is a bit of wonder that becoming comfortable with all the newness could ever have taken so long.
In schools there are still analog clocks on the wall over the door. Kids still watch the clock, but the coordination between minute and hour hands is virtually meaningless. They sneak peaks at phones, or computers to find out what time it is. Time varies from culture to culture. It is fluid. Not just the passage of time, but our understanding of it. As clock styles have changed, so has perception of time’s passage. In the analog world the minute hand has to traverse a portion of the circle that makes up a clock face. A quarter of an hour somehow feels different than fifteen minutes. Seeing numbers flip over is different than seeing the second hand sweep around and the minute hand clicking forward. A new stream bed of time is cut through a digital day.