Living for the moment (part 2)

June 7, 2010

In part one of ‘Living for the moment’ I looked at the concept that in every minute there is a single second that defines the entire minute and that these significant moments can often leave evidence behind that enable you to relive the entire event much later.

In this second part I’m looking at how significant moments can alter the logical course of events and even be disastrous for your wallet.

When a significant moment occurs, the whole course of events can suddenly turn in an instant. It’s like a car turning at a junction or a light beam hitting an angled mirror.

Consider the example from part one where we examined the scene of a wedding photographer who is walking backwards to fit a large wedding crowd into the shot. We looked at the significant moment where the crowd realise that the photographer is oblivious to the fountain just behind him and decide, as a collective, to keep silent and watch the inevitable moment of schadenfreude.

Before this moment, it is the photographer who is in control of the situation; they have assembled and posed all the guests and the guests have been instructed to keep still and quiet until the photographer is happy that they have achieved their shot.

But when the muffled mumbles and whispers seal the assembled crowd into their conspiracy of mischievous silence the whole scenario is spun on its head. Now it is the crowd of silent guests who assume dominance; the photographer has unknowingly lost all control, a hundred invisible Neroesque thumbs are down and the photographer is condemned to a dunking.

Just as part one carried a warning, so this second installment also comes with a caveat attached.

It concerns a good friend of mine, I’ll call him Tim, mainly because that’s what his parents chose to call him and so if we all stick to parental naming protocol it makes life a lot easier. Tim once told me that he was in danger of throwing his wallet into deep water whenever he walked across a bridge or along a pier.

I initially assumed that otherwise-perfectly-sane-Tim had taken leave of his senses, but once he had talked me through the thought process I found that this series of significant moments was indeed not only very plausible, but in many ways inevitable.

What starts out as a simple piece of logic quickly snowballs through a chain-reaction until black is white and 2+2=5.

Tim’s paranoid thought processes, a series of significant, direction-changing moments, had a very infectious nature to them. And herein lies your warning: reading through the rest of this article could cause you to be forever fearful of your wallet when near deep water. Read on at your own risk.

Moment 01: a piece of unnecessary logic

As Tim is walking along by some deep water, a single statement suddenly strikes. “It would be awful if I threw my wallet over the edge, into the water.”

This is, of course, a superfluous thought and a completely unnecessary safeguard, as Tim obviously has no intention or desire of throwing his wallet into the water, but as soon as this first thought happens then it is already too late, the snowball is already rolling down the hill.

Tim walks on a little farther, thinking through the hassle of having to cancel all his bankcards and buy himself a new wallet until moment 02 strikes.

Moment 02: a new fear dawns

The second stage of the process is where Tim has sworn to himself that he will not under any circumstances be throwing his own wallet into the water, but then wonders if his wallet is safely in his pocket, as it should be. What if his wallet is hanging slightly out of his jacket? It could easily fall out into the water, even without any human assistance.

And so a fail-safe plan swings into action.

Moment 03: the safety check

The plan is quite simple. Tim now plans to put his hand into his pocket to ensure that his wallet is safely deep inside the pocket and not teetering on the edge.

And so his hand goes into the pocket and grabs hold of the wallet to check it is secure and intact where it should be.

So now he just has to take his hand out again.

Moment 04: not so fail-safe after all

The logical course of action is now to simply remove your hand from the pocket, but this overlooks a potentially disastrous possibility. A pocket is only small and so a hand withdrawing from such a confined space could easily drag the wallet out with it.

By performing this check to ensure that your wallet is safe while next to the water you could inadvertently draw the wallet out with your hand and leave it to fall over the edge before you realise what is happening.

So there is only one safe and logical solution left available.

Moment 05: black and white are both looking a little grey

The safest thing to do now is to take a firm grasp of the wallet and lift it out to prevent it accidentally falling out. So Tim now lifts his wallet out of his pocket and keeps a tight hold of it. As long as he holds it securely until he is off the bridge or pier then all will be well.

Moment 06: that little voice

“You were walking along quite happily with your hands by your sides and your wallet safely in your pocket. And now you have quite deliberately reached into your pocket and lifted your wallet out while you are next to some deep water. Why on earth would you do that unless you really were intending to throw it into the water all along?”

That small inner voice has a very valid point. The fear of throwing the wallet into the water has turned the world around 180˚ and turned logic on its head. Black suddenly seems very bright and 2+2 now takes all the digits on one hand to count out the answer.

Moment 07: …


“Oh, arse!”

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