Before and After
Could be good, could be bad…
Have you heard the one about the woman who was driving down the road minding her own business when she encounters a driver coming towards her, arms reaching out the window, fists shaking; and as she gets nearer, she hears him yell in her direction the word, “Cow!” Naturally she feels quite indignant. How dare he? What has she done to deserve that?! She continues down the road, fuming a bit and muttering to herself about the rudeness of drivers these days, when what does she encounter but a small herd of cows leisurely crossing the road in front of her. Ah, h, h… now she understands. In that moment, her thoughts, beliefs, and feelings all changed. Before she sees the cows, it’s all about her rightness and his wrongness. She feels indignant, angry, disbelieving, and irritated. After she sees the cows and understands the man’s warning, she feels grateful, a bit embarrassed, and even humble.
There are all kinds of events in our development as people, moments in time that are marked with our memories of life before the event and after. Some are milestones like first paycheck, first kiss, passing the driver’s license test, getting your first medal, saying I Do, the birth of your first child. We have a recognition that what just happened is big! Life will never be the same again. And these important moments can have a pretty big build up; the preparation we must make in order to do the things that impact the course of our lives. We have some control of the build up that gets us ready and we also have choices about where to show up to have the experiences.
But some things just happen and we don’t get a chance to “build up”. Bombs drop, literally and figuratively, and something comes that we aren’t a bit prepared for. Words get spoken or actions occur that change everything. Sometimes we wish hard for life to return to the way it was Before. But instead we are faced with living in the After.
So have you heard the one about the farmer whose horse ran away? His neighbors came running into his yard asking him how in the world he was going to plant his crop without his horse? The farmer simply replied, “Could be good. Could be bad.” The next day the farmer awoke to the sound of horses, and he saw that not only had his horse returned, he had brought several friends with him. Now the farmer had several horses to make the job of planting much easier.
Later that summer, the farmer’s son was working in the hayloft of the barn when he slipped, fell and broke his leg. All of the farmer’s neighbors again came running to see how the son was feeling, asking the farmer, “How in the world are you going to get your crop harvested without the help of your son? What will you do?” The farmer calmly replied,” Could be good. Could be bad.” The farmer worked very hard, rising early in the morning and retiring late at night to harvest his crop while his son lay mending.
During that time, the civil war started. All of the boys of a certain age in the surrounding countryside were called to duty. His son, however, could not answer the call due to his broken leg. Many of those boys never returned home.
When you think of it, each moment is filled with potential beforeness and afterness. We never really know what is going to happen, and yet, we move through our lives. What kinds of evidence do you more often look for – could be good, or could be bad?