Osom Possums

Dada Nabhaniilananda
5 min readJan 5, 2024
Produced with Teamwork from Dalle-3 and one of my brain cells

One of the less widely publicized but nevertheless significant cultural breakthroughs of 2023 involved the revival of a sadly overused but worthy word. That’s right, I’m talking about awesome. We’ve all felt the urge, we’ve all wanted to say it, that moment when the right word just is awesome. But we can’t use it because 578,000 Californians recently said it in reference to something that simply does not qualify as awesome. Like a cup of tea, or a free plastic toy in a cereal box.

Until recently I was resigned to watching this beautiful word vanish into the void, just like so many other once beloved words: like integrity, epic, bandwidth, mindset, or love itself.

Little did I know that a solution lay in the most unexpected of places…Mexico!

My ineptitude in Spanish is legendary. Fortunately my new Mexican friend, Amalina, was almost equally inept at playing the guitar. This looked like ripe territory for a deal. Sure enough we settled on a pact. (which I have since broken, but that is not relevant here) I would study Mexican, or to be less precise, Spanish, and she would practice guitar.

So we were exchanging messages. She was improving her guitar work, and I was exaggerating about how much time I was spending studying Spanish — our plan was going perfectly. Then I noticed something interesting. Amalina thought that the English word, ‘awesome’ was spelled, ‘osom’! That actually was awesome! This wasn’t a misspelling — it was an upgrade!

Think about it. In what sane world does or = awe?? English spelling weirdness — typical! Amalina’s new spelling was clearly an improvement, or, dare I say it around all these Silicon Valley folks, an innovation! (Another much maligned word but we’ll deal with that another day).

But there’s more. Now I know that if I start talking about animals, or New Zealand, you might imagine that I am digressing, but I am not. Not this time.

Consider this: What could possibly be wrong with a word that rhymes with possum?

Since our new favorite word, osom, rhymes with possum, I am compelled to explain possums. Possums are osom! On a roll here, I’m loving this already.

There are two kinds of possums: Australian possums, which are fluffy and adorable and cute, and American possums which are ugly and gross looking. But let us not be fooled by appearances.

The American opossum, despite its hideous appearance, is a great boon to its environment. It is a number one predator of ticks for a start! And anyway they’re harmless, poor things. (The opossums not the ticks. Ticks are evil.)

Australian possums are fine too, so long as they stay in Australia. In New Zealand they are an invasive pest. They devastate native bird populations by eating their eggs and chicks. Which means where I come from (i.e. NOT Australia) these cute little critters have a price on their heads.

My older brothers used to trap and shoot them. One morning I got to the cage trap first and found an adorable, terrified young black possum gazing at me through the wire, pleading with its little dark eyes. I begged my brother to stay the execution and my tears won him over. The newly liberated possum rascal promptly ran of to celebrate by murdering a few dozen baby birds. How the best intentions of youth go oft astray…

Which reminds me how weird scientists can be. Some of them (scientists, not possums) have a theory that the first Australian possums got to New Zealand by swimming. That’s a distance of at least 1000 miles! What were they, Atomic possums???

I just asked Bard about my new Atomic Possum theory, and it claims that they are fictional.

Dissapointed.

Atomic Possum lands of the shores of Aotearoa (later New Zealand), ready to conquer
Atomic Possum lands on ancient Aotearoa shores. by Dalle-3 & my brain cell

Anyway, let’s assume that the possum in question, not the Atomic Possum, the one which rhymes with osom, is an innocent Australian possum, not guilty of invading New Zealand and endangering unique native bird species.

Let’s go back to our word ‘awesome’. It is a cute word. It’s fluffy, like a possum. We want to say it because it makes us feel warm inside, but remember, everyone in California already said it fifteen times this morning.

But now we have a new version of the word, a better version, an improved version — the pronoucable, possum resembling, original Mexican designed, Osom!

So why not just start using it? Language evolves through usage, not legislation. We have agency.

I once invented a word. To my surprise, decades later I discovered that it was still being used.

Oh dear, I believe I might have just landed myself in embarassing waters. I guess have to tell it now that I’ve brought it up. OK, here goes.

In my brief period of youthful waywardness, before I became a disciplined yogi who does not indulge in such brain decaying substances, I occasionly smoked marijuana. I have since concluded that this was entirely the fault of my friends who were a bad influence on me. Just ask them — I’m sure they will proudly agree.

During that wayward phase I came up with a new word for being heavily stoned on marijuana. Derived from the Latin, saturated, the new word was satched. And the substance in question we dubbed satching weed.

I left New Zealand to become a non-dope-smoking (or smoke-doping as one of my Indian friends calls it) yogi when I was only 20. Upon returning more than 30 years later I discovered to my dismay that these invented terms, satched and satching weed, were still in use in my former homeland.

My point is, amazing as it may seem, a small group of dedicated people, given sufficient blurring of their minds with drugs, can change a language.

Now that I think about it, I’m not even sure that thenew words were my idea. The quantity of marijuana we imbibed at the time was easily enough to confuse memory of such details. But we definitely came up with these words between us. Considering my current position I think it might be appropriate to once again shift the blame to my creative friends. I’m thinking it was probably John Lowe’s idea. Or possible Paddy Neville. One of those guys. Great work changing history guys! You will ever be remembered fondly.

But let us come back to the present. You see what happens when you distract me? Here we have a chance to restore a deserving word to common usage. If a bunch of drug addled miscreants can add a word to the language by accident, I’d be pretty shocked if a team of focused, highly educated mature adults can’t do better.

So please join me in my campaign to reinvent and revive this blameless, meaningful term. Let the word formerly known as awesome, become OSOM, from today henceforth!

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Dada Nabhaniilananda

The Monk Dude. Yoga monk for 48 years, meditation instructor, author, keynote speaker, and musician. From New Zealand. Teaches at Apple, Google, Facebook etc.