Anything Can Happen

July 10, 2011
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I often plan ahead, as many others do. It can be as close as the next hour, and as far as the next five years. But, in some form or fashion, I plan ahead of time. Depending upon the extent of the event or everyday ritual, I could plan uncontiously. My mom sometimes says that’s its good to plan ahead because you never know what can happen. But, what if you have nothing to plan for? What if never knowing what could happen becomes anything? What do you do then? How will any sort of planning be of any help?

Director of The Poker House, Lori Petty said, “There is today and there is tonight. And anything can happen –anything.” She says it at the opening of the movie and the closing. But what happens in between? And what does it mean?

Lori Petty directs the film, which is based upon her childhood. In the film, Agnes (Jennifer Lawrence) and her two sisters Cammie and Bee grow up with there strung out mother Sarah (Selma Blair), her pimp, and a house full of gamblers, criminals, and “johns” in a poor, urban city of Iowa. Though only 14-years-old, Agnes raises her two sisters, all while steadily maintaining the house, doing her schoolwork and being a star on a basketball team.

Though every moment of the movie may not be based upon true events, Agnes had been raped, her and her sister barely had food, and they had no one to depend upon for anything. Her rapist was also her mother’s pimp, who she thought was the only one who had loved her. But, unfortunately that thought was stolen along with her innocence, when his “sweet” kisses became more.

As narrator, Agnes often spoke of her emotions and how her feelings about life would change based upon the events that occurred or the people that she came into contact with. It never seemed that her emotions varied according to what she felt or thought. In other words, whatever was thrown at her, she had to quickly adjust and move on. She wasted no time in sorrow or pity.

I observed that Agnes often wrote poetry in a notebook. And though it wasn’t said, it served as her only way of escape; refuge. It would only be moments, maybe minutes, but it would be those moments and minutes that her heart would speak. It was in those moments that her soul could dance and her spirit was free.

No, my childhood wasn’t/isn’t anything like Agnes’ (for the most part), but I deeply sympathize with the character and all the Agnes’ in the world, whose only source of refuge are themselves. In such situations, when there is no one or no place to depend upon, you have to dig deep within youself. And though it may seem as though there is nothing left within, you can’t stop searching because one day you’ll find that something, that may seem to be nothing that’ll pull you through, day-by-day.

At the films end, Agnes says again, “There is today and there is tonight. And anything can happen –anything,” but that time I understood: that you can’t plan “anything”. You can’t plan the next moment or the next few years, because “anything” can happen. But, all that you can believe in is that moment, whether it good or bad; inspiring or dreary; confusing or understandable.

Although it may seem repetitive, I wrote this because I was inspired by Petty’s film and the courage that she had to direct it, which shows that she has no pride in where she came from. Also, despite the film being “difficult and disturbing,” but more so an eye-opener, I took like in her message of “redemption,”: “Forgive people that are really doing the best that they can. You don’t know whatsomeone’s going through. You don’t know where they’ve been. You don’t know what happens when they go home. Treat everybody the way you would like to be treated and be thankful just to be alive. Don’t be afraid and don’t let the past affect your present.”
Many may agree that the message was “strong”, and some may agree that it’s contrary or means nothing, but it’s definitely a message that only one could state if only they also could relate.


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