from dictionary.com

Word Origin & History


late 14c., “state or fact of forgetting,” from L. oblivionem  (nom. oblivio ) “forgetfulness,” from oblivisci  (pp. oblitus ) “forget,” originally “even out, smooth over,” from ob  “over” + root of levis  “smooth.”

This, to me, is what it means to have been forsaken: to smooth over.  I think it’s wrong to use the word adoption to describe our experience much of the time, though I am guilty of this myself.

For many romantics, who love melancholy, Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion is one of the finest documents of the human condition ever expressed.  But it’s not my favorite Piazzolla song.  I have two(three):  Milonga del angel + Muerte del angel and Mumuki

Milonga del angel is all the desperate, bittersweet hopes of our youth.

and Muerte del angel is like the encapsulation of an entire life’s angst and chaos.  To my mind, the two are inseparable.

I wish I could find the complete Muerte del angel but there are only these short versions on youtube.  The long version has redemption and resolution and acceptance and ends on a note of grace.

And then there is Mumuki

Mumuki to me is gratefulness for a seat for ones passions:  it’s consolation, shelter, and relief from the ever-present melancholy.

I’m adding these because I read someone’s blog who linked to my suspended animation post.  Which, btw, is one of the few really personal posts I’ve ever posted, so it’s a very strange feeling to find it’s one of the most widely read.  But the comment one adoptive parent made about it, holding it up as a worse case scenario of what to expect for her child was exasperating.

To isolate a moment like that is just one bar from Muerte del angel.  To have lived a life of oblivion and fighting the melancholy brought on by being forsaken totally discounts the energy and passion put into turning that melancholy into a beautiful song. 

I am always seeking to write my own Mumuki.

In so many ways, taken out of context, out of this complete and evolving ouvre, we adoptees who share our stories are exploited for the hysteria of others. We are not dwelling on dots out of self indulgence, we are merely connecting the dots so we don’t live hypocritical lives. Neither are we all surrounding ourselves with a shield of negative adoptee dogma in a cult of anger and blame.   There needs to be accountability so others don’t have to walk such a difficult path, but the blame I put out is only to facilitate that accountability:  I understand even those who commit crimes against humanity are human too, and victims themselves.

In many ways I think I am privileged.  I am forced daily to consider the essential.  I have touched death and given birth and appreciate the good and recognize the bad better than so many I meet.  I can live on vapors.  Can everyone say that?

I am, also, “privileged” to have experienced adoption in more ways than most. I am a survivor and that means I have a rare and nuanced perspective and can compare many aspects of the complications of power imbalances: I think I am a thoughtful, rational survivor who is just in a place that would challenge anyone.

So it’s wrong to paint us as anything less than anyone else.  And our tenderness and exposure – well – that’s a beautiful thing.  It’s a mistake to see only the tragedy.

btw, makkolli 30 days after expiration is a little tangier, but just fine for a Friday night.

5 thoughts on “oblivion

  1. I meant to tell you last week when I linked to you. I found your post compelling and raw. I hope it was none of the comments on my blog that exasperated you, but I wouldn’t be surprised because I am often exasperated by comments (sometimes on mine, usually elsewhere). You are entitled to your feelings, they are all legitimate and justified. Your previous post (suspended animation) falls squarely in the realm of emotions that many of us feel on a daily basis. I hope that adoptive parents can recognize that, and not compartmentalize the range of their own adopted children. What a shame that would be.

    I only lived in Korea 1 year as an adult, and I was in the US Army at that time. If you ever have the chance to go to Uijongbu, there is a small restaurant behind Camp Laguardia that has the most amazing chicken stew dish. It is wonderful in the winter. How long will you live in Korea? I hope to return… someday. Hopefully with my children, so they can learn their heritage.

  2. Really, Yoli, there’s no apology necessary.

    The reason I haven’t answered is not because I’m angry with you – simply that I couldn’t find any appropriate response to what felt like an excess of supplication. That’s kind of weird being on that end. Please. We’re equals – that’s not necessary.

    I should have thicker skin – conversing with most adoptive parents (not you) is enough to make me truly sympathize with those children sent away to reactive attachment disorder camps!

    I was just reacting to a rough year. I get a lot of being held up as worse case scenario here. That’s why the media exploits me and it’s our foot in the door to try and shoehorn in one rational plea about the other issues. I am the human interest tragedy disaster story. I am by no means the worse case scenario, but I am close to it. And yet, I was chosen and spoiled and my parents didn’t beat me and in their own way loved me too. I am also the typical adoptee in so many ways, so I also understand your alarm.

    For that, I have no comforting words. I can just tell you that your daughter is at least lucky to have a parent willing to be sensitive to what can’t really be shared. Maybe being too sensitive’s not helpful, though. Being steadfast, forthright, and available might be.

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