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Separation Anxiety

Pensive Annamaria is Pensive

I contemplate the mysteries of life but find no answers.
I seek meaning but find only absurdity. I crave authenticity yet find only illusions. 
Also, my gums hurt.

As she approaches her seventh month, Annamaria has developed separation anxiety.   As a practical matter, this means that she screams in abject terror every time I put her in her play yard and head off to do chores.  As a philosophical matter, it provides fodder for all kinds of useful speculation once the shrieking stops.

Annamaria is learning the difference between Self and Not-Self. She has begun to recognize what German philosopher Martin Heidegger called the "thrownness" of her condition.  She has been cast into Being, brought into a world which she did not create and over which she has little control. She greets her new surroundings in an appropriate fashion, with a combination of burning curiosity and blind panic. She has begun a process which will continue for the rest of her life: she is trying to determine who she is and the ways in which she can interact with her environment.

For Annamaria each moment contains its own eternity. Those blissful times playing with Zander the Fuzzy Rabbit and Mr. Bear are paradise without beginning or end. But those moments when she realizes she is alone are Tartarean aeons of abandonment, sadness and loss.  (At least until Zander and Mr. Bear step in to offer consolation). She has begun to understand the idea of impermanence, to realize that things can disappear. But she hasn't yet grasped the concept of permanence: when something removes itself from her vicinity, she believes that it is gone forever.

Annamaria lives in the mythic time where joys and sorrows last forever, that place where Divinity dwells. Like all babies cast from infinity into our limited space, she is still trying to wrap her mind around the rules of our realm.  Her joy and her grief transcend time and space: they cannot be constrained by the boundaries we create for ourselves and call maturity. 

Soon she will become grounded in time. She will learn the difference between "gone to get coffee" and "gone forever."  She will put aside her childlike fears and fancies and replace them with those more suited to an adult.  And if she is very fortunate she will take with her some of the light from these moments when she laughed like an angel and mourned like a Goddess. 

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Tagged in: child

Writer, columnist, and interviewer Kenaz Filan is an initiate of Societe La Belle Venus #2. Her most recent book The Power of the Poppy was published by Inner Traditions in 2011.


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