It was predicted some time ago that humans share a common ancestor with the lemurs of Madagascar. A 47 million year old fossil of one of our common ancestors was found in Germany recently. A small and extremely well preserved monkey, Darwinius masillae, or Ida for sort, had opposable thumbs and short fingernails. She is perhaps one of the greatest Mother’s Day gifts paleontology has ever wrapped up. But let me leave the science to the scientists. For our purposes it is enough to know that you can now go to Madagascar, meet a lemur, and call it cousin. Isn’t it great? There is no more doubt, no more wondering. No more second-guessing ourselves. I know, some of you might have been hoping that these country bumpkins couldn’t possibly be related to us. But they are. And they’ll beet us at hide-and-seek any day of the week.

I would like to go to a family reunion with the lemurs. They would probably be a lot more fun than the forced family reunions that happen to my extended family. Only slightly more evolved than lemurs when it comes to theology, the majority of my extended family happens to be Mormon. We do play a lot of hide-and-seek, though. We start with peek-a-boo so young, and it’s such a fun game!

My dearest mother received the most ironic mother’s day gift this year. Her father died. She is no longer anybody’s little girl. Well, she believes in Eternal Life, so maybe it’s not so hard for her after all? Me? I think denial is a river in Egypt, anyway. But grandpa went and hid this time and he won’t be found.

Do lemurs have extended family reunions when someone dies? Or do they sneak off and die alone, respectfully, like most of the species on earth? My grand-father’s idea of a respectful death was to have an elk embroidered on the lining of his casket. In his favorite version of hide-and-seek he carried a gun, and killed his prey when he found it.

I like to bounce around like the ring-tailed lemurs. If you haven’t tried it, you might just like it. The mama lemurs carry their babies on their back or around their belly, or both. The baby lemurs have really got to hold on tight. My dear mother taught me to bounce around quite a bit, and hold on tight, too. She also taught me to hide.

Ida didn’t hide. At least, she didn’t hide in a tree. She hid in a volcanic ash tomb for millions of years so that she could come forth out of the ground and declare that every year on Mother’s Day, humans and lemurs alike can come together in a great family reunion. They can cry on each other’s shoulders or groom each other’s hair. They can mend each other’s wounds and encourage each other’s successes. They can play hide-and-seek, too.

But when the momma lemur hides, she always wins. We know she is there still, hiding right behind that chair there, under that blanket over there, behind her very own hands right in front of us! What a surprise when she re-appears, calming our nerves and soothing our loneliness.

Ida is our mother. We have no need to ever feel alone.


2 Responses to “Hide-and-Seek”

  1. JacobR Says:

    Great read Jonas! I had no idea we were so connected to Lemurs, who would ever guessed? I didn’t get the reference of having your mom teach you to hide, but alas a great post. Look forward to your next musing.

    • caveoftheyeti Says:

      Hide-and-seek and peek-a-boo are variations on a game that many mammals play, not just humans. By disappearing, the mature participant creates an atmosphere of anticipation based on the primal fear of loss. This is called separation anxiety, or the fear of losing contact with the ones we love us. When the hidden reappears, the tension release is pleasurable. The repetition of the game helps the immature participant learn to accept that even when a loved one is away from us, they will eventually return and we will be happy to see them.

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