There are days when nothing goes as planned. I’ve awakened some mornings amped and ready grab time by the balls and get shit done. Only to watch all of my plans collapsed on each other in domino effect. 27 years has consistently proved that plans have no priority in reality. Plans only matter to the ones who make them. For my sanity, I had to learn to live with the unplanned. This has made me practice submitting to the day. And last Thanksgiving, I had no plans whatsoever and here's how it ended up being one I can't forget.
It was the first Thanksgiving that I did not observe. Given the current plight of the Indigenous Nations regarding Standing Rock, I would no longer bring delicious food and family together in the name of whatever Thanksgiving pretends to celebrate other than Native genocide. So the streets I roamed with my black Minolta X-74, my laptop and a craving to create. I did not put limits on how I would create. Maybe I would write, maybe I would take photos. I would let the day present me with choices and I’d chose in favor of myself. And I was presented with a hell of a choice.
As he spoke, his tattoos leapt out at me with threats. First, two tear drops near his right eye and second, two long ones branding the “Rolling 60’s” gang on his forearms. For those who don't know, Rolling 60 is an active and lethal Crip gang in South Central. And the tear drops tattoo - each droplet can signify a murder that he has committed. Keyword being can. I was sent into a quiet inner mediation, watching a reel of worst-case scenarios. He asked to use my iPhone 6 Plus to call his niece to let her know he was on his way to meet her for Thanksgiving Dinner. My choices were:
- Say "no" because I profiled him to be a gang member.
- Lie because of fear of consequences.
- Let him use my cellphone because I like to help people.
I chose option 3 because it was in favor of myself. Because of this, I gained more than the joy of helping but also the chance to gain insight into a former gang-member's life. He opted to join me on my roam through LA and we found we had much in common. We talked religion, politics, relationships and goals. He admitted that didn’t he feel comfortable around his family, finding it difficult to connect. He too was in practice of submitting to the day. His anxieties around his plans and protecting his plans made him bitter. So bitter that he’d end up using 10 years of his life in prison to learn to be okay with the unplanned. Now that he’s out his focus is on keeping peace within himself and finds it difficult to maintain around his family. He told me:
“These days, I take it a day at a time. I make sure I acknowledge and be grateful for what I have. The fact that I didn’t appreciate what I had or have is what made it so easy to lose.”
I have learned to be mindful when making plans. Plans are creations. Like children, a person might conceive creations, but upon conception they no longer belong to solely that person, but to life itself. Life controls always and keeping a fixed mindset on plans, clinging to them like beloved children, promotes anxiety. Succumbing to that anxiety is affirming the belief of being incapable of taking care of oneself, which is fear. What I realized is when I attach myself to plans, I hinder my view of how much I can do. Creativity cannot come from limitation. Limitation is a product of fear. A fear-based decision seals a person in fear. Because he did not fear me and I did not fear him, we were able to connect and learn from each other. Choosing in favor of myself affirmed that I know how to take care of myself.
Yes, there will be days when things go unplanned...only to go perfectly instead.