Recently another international/transcultural adoptee approached me to add my photo to a video where he wanted to feature adoptees who speak out publicly about their experience. But I turned him down, because the background music he chose as a message of hope was David Bowie’s Heroes. I don’t consider myself a hero, though if others view me that way I am happy to have some role in inspiring them to work towards their own authenticity.
Also recently, another adoptee friend received some tragic and possibly terminal news and, like other adoptee friends I’ve known – tired – was not adverse to such a conclusion, but accepting, if not relieved. I understand this. We who have been cast about, our fates – despite all our best efforts – having a path of their own, have learned to roll with the punches. We who have always lived with adversity as our constant companion have come to view free will and fate and the meaning of life on different terms than others. It’s got nothing to do with being suicidal, and nothing to do with not loving life. It just is what it is. What else could it be?
Which got me to thinking about this movie:
The movie is fateless, (Sorstalanság in Hungarian) one of my all-time favorite movies, based on the memoirs of nobel prize winner Imre Kertesz, and stunningly, gorgeously filmed by Lajos Koltai
It’s not like any other holocaust movie ever made, because it does not focus on good vs. evil or romanticize endurance. Its unique perspective (from the recollections of a 14 year old boy) is its place in time, and that time is the moment at hand.
And it speaks to me of one who is a survivor of sorts. Because when faced with adversity, one does what one has to do, and one appreciates what one can, and one prevails – not out of heroism – but because we are existential and human. It’s our life, it’s all we’ve ever known. Adversity has hard-wired into us an acute awareness of everything others take for granted. It changes your world view in the most essential way. And ever after you roam the planet living an alternate reality.
What struck me about this movie was that, even after he was freed from Buchenwald, the boy can barely deal with a world so unlike his concentration camp experience. Because that WAS his life. Non-acceptance is not an option. Appearing disaffected is the only recourse. Whatever the rest of the world thinks of or imagines life there was like, it was his reality, and it forged the person he is and how he digests the world around him.
Not that being internationally/transracially adopted can compare to the horror of death camp, but the point is that your horror is our life. How would you be had you lived our lives? You would be fateless, that’s what. You wouldn’t believe in destiny. You’d just be or not be. Smell the flowers while they are here. Welcome death when it comes.
I encourage all people to watch this important movie, so you can understand what it is to live through trauma. It’s not total devastation. It’s sometimes beautiful. Alien. A sober and solitary journey.