She sat on a low adobe wall; a slim elderly woman wearing a flowing skirt and a sun hat. Her long silver locks fell into her face as she pulled weeds from a garden patch behind her and slid them into a linen bag. She looked up as I strolled by in my shorts, tank top and a camera slung over my shoulder. She had one of those faces that instantly lit up as I said hello. “You have a good day now,” she smiled a wide smile. But then, as if reconsidering, she said “how about I wish you luck today - good luck!” I smiled back and wished her the same.
Maybe this is a sign that I’m on the right path
It was not the first time this week that a fleeting thought entered my mind: ‘Maybe this is a sign that I’m on the right path.’ A thought I’d like to dismiss quickly. I am an atheist and do not believe in signs or the spiritual. I believe in solid science. I believe in randomness, but also in cause and effect.
Nevertheless, as I continued walking the cracked sidewalks of Santa Fe, I felt less self-conscious with my camera. I felt a little brazen even; walking up private driveways to take a shot of a turquoise door or a flower in bloom.
Change is not always chosen. A lover takes their life, a partner dies of cancer, we are laid off. We are forced into difficult instant decision making.
Then there are the changes that develop over years, we awaken to them. A seed grows slowly, we don’t even know it has been planted at all. As it grows, we start feeling the shape of it, it’s edges, it’s urges, it’s questions. We look for the answers, but not necessarily in the right places. But the need for change does not let up, it keeps nudging us, annoyingly so. “I am doing all I can,” we say, “What else is there?”
the need for change does not let up, it keeps nudging us, annoyingly so
One day you might be running your daily mile or driving to the grocery store and a thought just pops in your head. “Why don’t I just…” You immediately want to dismiss the thought. “That’s crazy; I can’t do that!” But the thought is there. You keep going back to it. You twist the thought around. You go online and read more about what you can do with it. Finally, you talk it over with your friends and partner. “I’m thinking about making a change, what do you think...”
You could make a mistake. You are about to take a risk. There is no way of knowing. No-one ever knows what happens next, whatever path you are on. So, you take a shower and a walk. “How about I wish you luck today – good luck!” - the beaming silver-locked lady says. I don’t believe in signs, but I do believe in the wisdom that comes from the generous elderly.
Yes, I’m late in the game. I full well realize this. It was a conscious decision for me not to watch Hulu’s popular show The Handmaid’s Tale. The reason you see was that I am trying to avoid movies and TV-programs that might trigger me into panic attacks. Once my body is in panic mode it takes some time to process what took me there.
Why - you might ask - could the dystopian Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s novel, be a trigger for me? Well, I wasn’t sure myself – but in my Life After God community I had concluded that it potentially could be. The setting is a Christian fundamentalist community in which the value of women is reduced to property. The few fertile women left live a life in sexual servitude justified by texts from the Bible. Resisting people are beaten down harshly. I didn’t want to take my chances watching the series and be confronted with upsetting materials – especially with violence against women in an oppressing Christian setting.
We hear how rights that have been fought hard for may vanish from under our eyes.
One afternoon last week I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and saw another reference to The Handmaid’s Tale. I say ‘another’ as it wasn’t the first one I had seen these last couple of weeks. As Trump is about to announce his pick for a judge for the Supreme Court we read stories about the possibility of Roe vs Wade being overturned. We hear how rights that have been fought hard for may vanish from under our eyes.
“I think I’m ready to see The Handmaid’s Tale now” I said to my girlfriend. That same evening we started the show and we’ve seen a couple of episodes since. One night, before I fell into a restless sleep, the image of a hanging woman kept haunting me. She had been condemned of having a same-sex relationship. I may not see the whole series. For now, the show seems oddly relevant, or in my girlfriend’s words “Trumpian.”
the image of a hanging woman kept haunting me
In a recent article in the Daily Mail it is mentioned that one of Trump’s potential picks for the Supreme Court vacancy is Amy Coney Barrett. Coincidentally, Amy Barret is a member of the Christian group People of Praise, which is a highly controversial group that served as an inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s book. Atwood waited three years before publishing The Handmaid’s tale as she thought her book was just too out there. But then she realized that certain things in her book were happening. In some religious communities the term ‘handmaids’ were used for women. Women were encouraged to be silent and to be submissive to their husbands.
“But why can’t women speak in church?” I asked the question for the ‘-th’ time. My mother responds with the verse in which apostle Paul writes to the early Christians in Corinth. It tells how women need to remain silent, be in submission as the law requires. It is there, black on white, in the Bible – the word of God. I can, and will, ask again. I may get a verse from Timothy or Peter, but it will boil down to the same answer. There may be a picture even; Jesus above man, man above woman. There may be some explanation of how women testify through their obedience and how they watch over the children.
In The TV-series there are several moments when the question is presented “how did we let this happen?” The answer seems to be that there was a takeover that happened in stages; The House, The Senate, The Supreme Court.
Their ideal world is a nightmare for others.
Yes, The Handmaid’s Tale is fiction. But with fiction come insights. The Christian right have gone to great lengths to justify immoral behaviors to vote in a candidate that would back up their agenda. They continue this trend and tell themselves that their God is in control. This to me already sounds like a dystopian story. Their ideal world is a nightmare for others.
Therefore, I started watching The Handmaid’s Tale, a potentially triggering show. I want to learn and not be complacent. We can’t afford it.
Pietje - say Peach-a!