From The Farm: Between Before and After

Between the before and after is a pivotal moment that changes us. This can change our lives and change our world. The pivotal moment between before and after is the catalyst of change that alters the way we see, think, or feel. This can happen frequently or infrequently. This can come up suddenly, often, daily, or once in a lifetime. The catalyst is not aligned with good or bad or even indifferent. The moment can be either or. A catalyst is something that creates change. Nothing more, nothing less.

The moment between before and after is the catalyst. This is the switch. This is a moment of awareness, This is the thing that takes place. To some; this can be a moment of clarity or spiritual awakening. To others, the switch can be sad or unfortunate. Between before and after is the pivotal moment of change. Before was just before until the moment came and then the change began

I received a phone call one night after writing to a woman about the loss of her husband. Although no words can soothe the pain in times like this, I offered my friend an understanding with hopes to honor the love she felt and the life she lived with her husband. In an effort to console my friend, I wrote about life and death and sent this to her.
As I was about to close my computer after sending my note, my phone rang. The voice on the other end of the call asked me to verify my name. I answered because I knew she was a nurse in a hospital where Mom was.
“Are you the son of Alice Kimmel,” she asked.
The pivotal moment that changed my life was before the phone call and after. Shortly after the call, my brother Dave and I had to make arrangements to head down to Florida to say goodbye to our Mother—

The phone call consisted of three parts; before, during, and then after. This is how life is.

I was sitting in a room with a therapist one evening. We were discussing my life and the direction it was taking. He explained the difference between my thinking and I might be paraphrasing a little, but for the most part, my recollection of this conversation is on point.

“The problem I see is you think your thoughts are you.”
“But that’s not you,” he told me.
“That’s just an idea you’ve had because of the life you lived and the things you’ve seen.”
“That’s not you,” he told me.
“That’s just you trying to protect yourself,” he said.
“I know you think these things are real,” he explained.
“But they’re not.”
“That’s not you,” he told me.
“None of that are you.”

This is where I first learned about the deception of my perception. This is when I learned my perception is not truth. It was only true to me.
The subject prior to this conversation was intense to say the least. I revealed myself in a way that I never dared to before. I spoke openly about past events and past crimes and past sins that were eating me alive.

“That’s not who you are,” said the counselor.
“How can this not be me,” I argued.
“It was me that did it!”
He explained, “If you were a bad person, none of this would have bothered you.”

He said, “Bad people don’t care about doing bad things or getting back at people for doing bad things to them.”
“Bad people have no remorse.”
“That’s not you,” he told me.
He said, “I know that’s not you because if it was, none of this would be eating at you for so long, And, if you were really that person you wouldn’t be here in my office.”

It was like a light went on in my head. I could let go if I chose to. I could move on. I could literally forgive me. I could pardon myself and my sins against me.
This was the idea of change. I was different before this meeting—and then there was after, which was enlightening to me because at last, I came to the self-realization that the catalyst between then and now can be life-changing enough to actually be life-saving.

I remember the first time I heard the song, All Along the Watchtower. There was before I listened to Jimi Hendrix and then there was after. I remember the first time I listened to The Pink Floyd.
I remember the first time I saw the sun go down over my city.
Again, there was a before and then there was after.
There are people I’ve met and from the first moment I saw their faces, my life has never been the same since. again, there was before and then there was after.

Between my before and after, I find the pivotal moment that either moves me towards or one step further from the life I want for myself.
The trajectory of life changes, in which, I mean the things I held as important last year might not hold the same importance this year.

Maybe something happened, maybe it was a moment of chance, or maybe was saw someone or something or it could have been an argument or a tragedy, or perhaps it was the taste of victory or a moment of achievement that led to a sense of empowerment, and the only thing between the moments is before and after. This is who I was before the moment. Then the moment came and this is who I am now.

The question I come to is the same question I believe we all come to. What has to happen? What does the pivotal moment have to be to push me one step closer to my ultimate goal.

I walked into a classroom yesterday, in which, admittedly, I struggled with some of my old personal biases and personal prejudices and fears. I sat down in my chair.
There is a moment between before and after, which was pivotal because I came to the understanding that the person I was is no longer me.
In fact, that was never me. I was just trying to protect myself. I was trying to honor the old traumas I endured, which are old and outdated.

When I was young, I used to think I was crazy. Literally, I swore there was something wrong with me. I swore I was stupid. I swore I was an idiot. I must have been. I had to have been.
I struggled in class. I struggled in crowds. I struggled being me and interacting with you or anyone else. I swore I was crazy. I swore I was just a stupid kid.

I met with a counselor one day and talked about this. He told me something that changed my life.
He told me, “You’re not crazy.”
He told me, “Crazy people don’t think they’re crazy.”
Then he told me, “And I have news for you, kid. Stupid people don’t know they’re stupid either. They think they’re smart!”

“You are far from crazy. You just feel a lot.
Also, you are far from stupid. In fact, you are one of the smartest I’ve ever met.”

I have to go back to class today folks.

See, the above were some of my pivotal moment and someday, I will return the kindness that was shown to me with hopes to be the catalyst that sparks the change in someone’s life. I would like to return what was so graciously given and be the catalyst to someone’s after


Dear John,

I can’t believe how many years ago it was since our time on the farm. I can’t believe where I am now, almost three decades later.
Almost 30 years since the time you drove me to the bus station to say goodbye to The Old Man.
My Father was about to die. This was the catalyst; this was a pivotal moment that changed my life, and my friend, you have been the inspiration behind so many of my efforts to help restore life where it otherwise seemed lifeless

God Bless you, my old, best friend
I know he blessed me
(I know this because you told me so.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.