Now, then
Roger Montgomery
Can anyone out there explain the logic behind this (English?) phrase that I use all the time when trying to calm my kids? It defies my logic to explain it's meaning. Can you also tell me the origin of the phrase please?
AdSumADS
As with the cliché that "time heals all wounds," a strongly emotionally reaction is diffused by appreciating (as with another phrase) that "this too shall pass." In the utterrance of the phrase, one is bringing his audience's attention to the passage of time. "Now," which marks a particular instant, and "then" which emphasizes an awareness that the moment previously marked has passed, can no longer be of immediate concern, and so (here's another) one shouldn't "cry over spilled milk." This realization, encapsulated within the superficial illogic of the mantra (of the koan), "now, then" diffuses the mental impact of whatever the irritant is, through an appreciation of impermenence, calming the mind and allowing the subject to attain a more enlightened posture toward his experiential world. It's origin is ubiquitous, arising spontaneously in each intellect confronted with another's suffering and in articulating the solution "now...then" conducts a universal truth to the other's mind.

...or else it's just some bullshit tired parents make-up when they're at their wits' end and grasp for something, anything to say or do to the hysterical child, as with the making of nonsense white-noise, "shush." Take your pick. It might be a variant of "now, there" which is elliptical for a phrase such as "now, there's a big, grown-up boy who wouldn't get all upset" meant to work through a kind of subliminal suggestion.

Return to the archive