Imagine that you’ve left the old story behind. You know, the one that takes for granted that Earth belongs to humans, to rule and to own. You’ve started a hike into unknown territory, and there are no maps. You don’t know your destination, and for all you know you could be going in circles. But it feels awesome to have left, to breathe the fresh air and be on the way. You get to a peak where you turn around to take in the view. On the horizon you see the smog of the old world, and suddenly you realize that even if you’re lost and mapless, you’re still headed in the right direction.
Emilio was born in Colombia in 1977 and was adopted to Sweden at age one. When he retrieves his dossier from the social authorities in Bogota, his birth name and a few other clues about his background are revealed. He decides to travel, together with his adoptive father, to the countryside north of Bogota to connect the dots and attempt to find his biological family.
What does ancestry mean? For someone who’s adopted this is an acute question. For the rest it’s more of a philosophical exercise.
Before the agricultural revolution, before borders were drawn and global travel was possible, ancestry meant knowing where the bones of your forebears lay, and to be able to return there and know from where the grass covering those hills got its particular shade of green. It meant to truly be able to be home.
We’ve lost that ability today, as most people associate “home” with their house or the city or country they live in. It almost takes identifying with an adoptee’s search for answers to remember the depth that the question implies. What does ancestry mean?
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