The Tale of the Dusty Lizard

23 years ago, on the day my family moved into our current home, my husband and I left our small kids with his mom, armed ourselves with cleaning supplies, and attacked our new house.  We wanted it absolutely polished before we started moving our things into it.

Since the living room was the easiest space to clean, I got to it last.  I walked in, anxious to be done, and stopped short as I spotted a lizard lying on our berber carpet (In case you’re not a berber fan, I want you to know we have all hardwood floors now.  Much better for my allergies!) Between my husband and myself, I’m the one that has to take care of the crawly critters that get into the house but I was really afraid of this fella because he looked odd.  Once I yelled for my husband to provide moral support, I approached the lizard to find that it wasn’t some new species of reptile.  This poor little crawler was covered in dust.  He was downright fuzzy with it!  Where could he have come from? Was he a he?  (I have no idea but I’m trying to simplify here.)  Was he alive? Was he moving?  He didn’t seem to be!!  How should I get him out of here?  Would he bite me??

Now, this may seem like a lot of excitement just to get one little dust covered reptile out of my living room but please remember, I’m from Central Illinois.  I don’t think we have lizards there!  I’d certainly seen them around in CA but never in my house!  Since this incident, there have been several forms of wildlife traveling through this house.  I’d like to say I handle it more calmly now but I probably don’t.  Anyway, I was pretty excited about this lizard and what to do with him.

Eventually I located the dust pan and broom and swept him up.  He made no move to get away from me with the exception of the fact that he was so slippery with dust that I had to balance him pretty carefully or he would have just slid off the plastic pan.  Despite my best efforts to lower him gently down on the ground, the poor thing slid right off the dustpan next to our deck and didn’t move.  This upset me as much as finding him in my living room did.  Was he dead!!??  Did I kill him by dropping him 3 feet onto the ground?? Was he ok???

While I stood looking over the railing of our deck agonizing over the fate of the lizard and feeling responsible for his death, my husband was laughing at me.  Finally he said “If you had just crawled out of the depths of nowhere and were suddenly lifted up by some unknown force, carried to a different environment and then dropped into it, wouldn’t you just sit there for a few minutes and make sure nothing else bad was going to happen??”  I couldn’t argue with that logic.

He convinced me to leave the critter alone so we could finish up before the movers came.  When I came back a bit later, the dusty lizard was gone.  My hope is that he got his bearings, found himself a bath, and settled into a new home under our house but this time outside of it.  I refuse to consider the other, more morbid possibility so don’t even mention it.

In 23 years, that lizard has come to mind more than a few times.  I see him in my own reactions to things – including my hiatus from writing blogs.  I don’t know if you noticed but this is my first one in 21 months!  Yikes!  I had so much to say when I came home from a trip out of the country in June of 2018 but returned with my second case of pneumonia in 6 months.  I was sick, exhausted, in an illness-induced brain fog, and in a terrible mood.  I assumed the dusty lizard position and decided to get back to it later.

This is later but, believe me, what started as a dusty lizard excuse just became habitual procrastination.  Sorry about that.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I do believe there are times and places for the dusty lizard approach – temporarily! (21 months can’t be explained by this approach. – again. my bad)  I’m reminded of 2 quotes from I have no idea where.  One is “Be a human being, not a human doing.” The other is “Don’t just do something!  Sit there!!”  I’m sure some of you might recognize these quotes.  Feel free to give credit where it’s due.

I see folks all the time who just go and go and go rather than acknowledge their feelings of sadness, depression, exhaustion.  In fact, sometimes I’m guilty of this as well.  On the other end of the spectrum and just as problematic, I see folks who sit in the dust far too long, unable to pull themselves out of it and move toward a destination.

Like any balance, this one is tricky.   Although it’s often uncomfortable, there’s a catharsis and clearing that comes with allowing your feelings free rein by crying, resting, writing, meditating, even isolating for a bit. There’s a deep sacredness to sitting with one’s feelings and, though sometimes scary, allowing that still, small voice within to emerge. That stillness can give us clarity, purpose, resolve, or even an energy boost so that we can drop the burden, dust ourselves off, and move in a direction.  Sometimes the direction doesn’t even matter!  We just need to move!

Disappointments and setbacks come with being human but we can sometimes struggle with our resilience in the face of them.  While a pause to get one’s bearings might be warranted, staying stuck is unhealthy.

If you’re having trouble finding your direction after a setback, please seek some guidance. There’s no shame in asking for help and those who love you, or an objective therapist, would be happy to help dust you off and get you going again.  If you’re in or near Marin County, I’m happy to help you as well.  Please feel free to contact me through my website.