A Moment, A Definition

by Elizabeth deGraw Renna

My “primary language”, the language I am most comfortable using to express myself and to process my experiences, is the written word, preferably hand written for some reason. I was introduced to this concept of having a “primary language” by someone I know who is a dancer and who is also trained as a Dance Movement Therapist. She has talked about how her primary language is movement. To best understand her feelings she needs to turn them into movement. To process an experience it is most helpful for her if she explores that experience through movement of some kind. That’s how it is for me with the written word. Words are my tool for processing the many moments of my life.

As I process many of the experiences that I have by writing about them, I tend to have my attention caught by words that I’m using on the page. Then, of course, I’m curious enough that I reach for my dictionary to look up the definition. Will it match the instinctive feelings I have about the word? Will the definition add to my experience in some way? It usually does, sometimes enhancing the symbolic nature of an experience, of a moment in time that I have experienced. What most resonates for me with the word “definition” is its definition as “the act of making clear and distinct”. I use words, written down, to describe my experiences and to make meaning out of them. For me (and I know not everyone has this quirk), diving deeper by playing with definitions adds to my experience and understanding of those moments in my life, big and small.

So for a moment I want to dig deeper into the definitions of “moment” and “definition”, the two words I’ve chosen to identify my Blog and my focus.

Moment noun
– A brief interval of time
– A specific point in time
– A particular period of importance or excellence
– Importance

What caught my eye in my dictionary was the Latin root word for “moment”. It is “momentum < movere" meaning "move". I never would have made the connection between a moment in time and the word move or movement, but it is fascinating to me. More on that in the future!

So there I was with my dictionary, experiencing one of those moments where I become very curious about a word and the words related to it. Here's what I discovered, in alphabetical order:

Momentarily adverb
– For a moment
– In a moment, shortly

Momentary adjective
– Lasting only for a moment
– Occurring or present at every moment

Momently adverb
– From moment to moment

Momentous adjective
– Of utmost importance or significance

Momentum noun
– The product of a body's mass and velocity
– Impetus

So, moving on to the word "definition", no play on words intended, really!

Definition noun
– A statement conveying fundamental character
– A statement of the meaning of a word, phrase, or term, as in a dictionary entry
– The act of making clear and distinct
– A determination of outline, extent, or limits

Define verb
– To state the precise meaning of (e.g. a word)
– To describe the nature or basic qualities of
– To delineate
– To specify distinctly; distinguish

[Latin "definire < finis", boundary]

So, it's time to move on, to begin to ponder some of the moments I have experienced and pull deeper meaning out by exploring the words I find myself encountering or using to process those experiences.