Posted by: Brad Nixon | December 20, 2019

At This Point in Time, Someone Will Be with You Momentarily

It’s high time I addressed this issue. Apparently until now the time has been somewhat lower. I haven’t been having a particularly high time of it, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been having a low time, because there simply is no such thing.

We’re accustomed to symmetry in English: synonym/antonym; action/reaction; timely/untimely; thesis/antithesis (all right, the Greeks get credit for that one). If there’s a high time, there should be a low one. I’ve never heard anyone tell me it’s low time to do anything, although there ought to be a lot of things in that category.

At this particular moment in time, I have to ask if there is ever a moment that is NOT in time. Are there timeless moments? If you’re selling greeting cards or photographic equipment, yes. You want people to buy products that celebrate or capture those timeless moments. But if a moment is timeless, how can it even exist to be celebrated or photographed? Will a greeting card reach the recipient in time? Are the greeting card and photo people selling us a solipsism, and, while they’re sure time exists, perhaps only in their minds?

And why didn’t Einstein or Newton or Pythagoras explain that? (All right, Pythagoras may have done it, but I’ve wasted my time and not read him, because he’s — well — from a long time ago.)

Kant had a lot to say about whether time exists independently of our minds or if our minds create time as one means to structure existence. I won’t give away the surprise ending here. Besides, I don’t have time right now to go through A Critique of Pure Reason, which was before its time. That doesn’t mean it’s now after its time. Perhaps its time has not yet come at this particular moment.

And, why this particular moment? Is a moment ever not particular, or at least specific? Isn’t that  the very definition of a moment: something quite distinct and particular? Is there ever a nonspecific moment?

Momentarily, I’ll get around to saying more about moments. As the voice on the recorded message at the doctor’s office tells me, “Someone will be with you momentarily.”

Who is that person, and will they be with me timely, or will the sands of time run out?

Once they’re with me, will I only get their attention momentarily — for a single moment — and then they’ll be gone again? I need more of a doctor’s time that that, but, apparently, time’s a-wastin’. It’s bad enough to be billed hourly or by the minute. Imagine being billed by the moment. Does my insurance cover that?

Those of us on airplanes learn from the flight attendant on the loudspeaker that we’re “beginning our landing process.” Why does there have to be a landing process; can’t we simply land?

We’re further informed that “we’ll be landing momentarily.” Does that mean we’ll merely touch down for a moment, then the pilot will gun the engines and take off again? Are we to leap from the plane while it’s rolling, before we get airborne again?

During this current timeframe, I also ask for some clarification about that frame of time. Does it have specific (or perhaps particular) dimensions? Is it a two-dimensional frame or perhaps a 3-dimensional framework? Time, itself — science fiction authors never weary of telling us — is the fourth dimension, but it’s difficult for those of us without at least a grasp of differential calculus to picture a four-dimensional frame that might really BE a timeframe. How does a timeframe differ from any other “time?” Or, for that matter, some other type of “frame?”

Or, perhaps it’s integral calculus. As a liberal arts major I don’t understand the integral differential between the two in this particular timeframe.

While we’re engaged in this consideration of time, English should allow us to say that we are — in a sense — doing time, the way we might be doing exercise or doing dishes. Plus, if we’re improving our grasp of time — hence its standing in the English lexicon — we might also say that we are serving time. Both of those phrases seem too closely associated with a pejorative connotation, so we’ll leave them to those already doing time for the time being.

There, I’ve done it again at this particular time: Is there ever a time that is not being? Ah, finally, a question I can answer. Yes, time was that things were different and time will be in which all will be made clear. It seems not at this particular point in time, but it’s high time it happened.

Suddenly I’m back where I started and it’s again high time. Is this the endless wheel of time, on which all things exist simultaneously, timelessly, and we’re all just Dharma bums along for the ride? Just when do we get off that wheel and enter the correct timeframe? Momentarily? If I run backwards along that wheel, will I recapture the past?

My time’s up, but when is time ever down?


  1. I had to pause for thought a few times while reading this. Couple of points… I’d always associated ‘high time’ with ‘high noon’, as something to do with the height of the sun. If it isn’t done by midday, you’ve missed the boat. I’m probably off base there, though.
    I was confused by your confusion on ‘momentarily’, so I looked it up, only to find good ol’ Oxford has the ‘at any moment, very soon’ meaning listed as ‘North American’. Strange, then, that that’s the meaning I assume it has, and you assume it hasn’t!

    And of course, a comment on symmetry in English – a pet favourite of mine. I love using words like ‘gruntled’, ‘chalant’ and ‘traught’, there are a few people I know that I would touch with a barge pole (and others who would hurt a fly), and I’ve been places that are as hot as hell in summer, and cold as hell in winter. Symmetry isn’t always symmetrical:)

    Liked by 3 people

    • My reading of momentarily is that, classically, originally, momentarily was something that endured only for a moment, and that we North American users have broadened the meaning to mean — as you point out — very soon. I am quite paraging of your remarks. Thank you. And nice to hear from you in the Nick of time.


    • Nick, be certain to look at a later comment by “Shoreacres” and the use of the word “combobulation.” Right up your alley.


  2. Luckily, time is on your side (and not on your back) just in the nick of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When is time ever down?! Downtime! We all need downtime! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Duh. I hate it when readers are smarter than I am. But, I consider the source and there are a bunch of smart people in that Cad crowd. Thanks.


  4. First, re: symmetry. In the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, where those arriving on international flights are forced to tarry while the officials do their thing, someone with a sense of humor has posted a sign: “Combobulation Area.”

    As for moments, I once got into an online argument over this line in Bob Seger’s song, “Roll Me Away”: “She looked out the window a long long moment…” He argued a moment had no duration; I claimed it could have, depending.

    I’ve always loved the distinction in Greek between chronos and kairos. It’s obvious where we get ‘chronology’ and ‘chronicle’ — it has to do with measurable, discrete units of time. Tick, tock. But kairos? That’s event-filled time, immeasurable and sometimes even intrusive. Chronos can’t measure kairos,, but the kairotic moment can insert itself into our calender or clock time.

    It’s interesting that in the Greek translation of the Christmas story, the phrase “in the fullness of time” uses kairos rather than chronos. From that perspective, celebrating in July could be as acceptable as in December.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Only a mind of unusual scope would engage in serious consideration of both Seger and kairos in the same comment. Sas efcharisto.


  5. Momentous. Clearly you’ve done some big time thinking about this topic. Perhaps there’ll be a sequel in good time?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Time is an illusion, lunch time doubly so” – Douglas Adams

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some darned day, I will read that book … when there’s time, of course. Maybe at lunch. I know the answer’s 42.


  7. Also as Ms Lauper piped “You said go slow. I fall behind. The second hand unwinds. If you’ re lost, you can look and you will find me. Time after time”

    Liked by 2 people

    • A distinctive voice. Just the words, and one can hear her. Thanks.


  8. I have been wondering is it better to have some time on my hands or to have some spare time? I have plenty of both at the moment, but for how long.


    • Hmm. Good question there. Time might weight heavily on your hands. But if it’s simply spare time, it could stay in the trunk with the tire. I’m voting for spare time, rather than time on my hands. Man. I have very smart relatives.


    • As for how long, well … THAT is the question, isn’t it? Stick around. Let’s find out.


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