My heart jumped when I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye, and my eyes widened in disbelief and shock as I realized something was climbing down the windshield of my moving vehicle. “Holy crap,” was my first thought, followed by “He’s going to die!”, as I subconsciously registered the colors, the ridges, the claws, and size of him. “It’s a friggin’ iguana!” Panic set in as he moved down the windshield onto the hood, sliding as he battened down against the wind; I was sure he was going to become road kill right before my eyes. I whipped into the next parking lot, and drove toward the shrubs on the side as my hitchhiker inched down the hood. “NO no no don’t fall off here” was screaming in my mind as I came to a stop and he disappeared off the hood. “Did I run over him? Is he under the hood? Did he go into the bushes?” My heart was still racing as I jumped out of my truck and ran to the passenger side, just in time to see his tail disappear into the shrubs. As I calmed down, I thought to myself, “He’s safe now, but he’s in unfamiliar territory.” It wasn’t until later that I felt the oxymoron in those words. Equating safety with being in unfamiliar territory doesn’t feel logical. Safety means knowing what to expect and being in control. When life steps in, picks me up, puts me somewhere else, my mind screams danger and fills up with all of the worst case scenarios. Yet when the dust settles, every time, I grow from it, kicking and screaming at the unknown, until familiarity sets in again.
I finally understand that safety comes not from avoiding unfamiliar territory, but from trusting that I can get through it, and live to tell the tale.
The next time life picks you up, takes you for a ride, and drops you into unfamiliar territory, ask yourself what you can learn from how you’re responding. Do you trust yourself to keep going, or does all of your energy go into resisting the change? What’s the dramatic awful outcome you’re imagining? And most important, is the freak out energy helping? These questions can bring safety into the unfamiliar quickly and easily. Try them out, and let me know how it works for you.
Interested in more lessons from iguanas? Read about my October 2008 encounter with an iguana HERE.
PS. For those of you who want to know how the iguana got on the hood of my truck, it climbed up the fence, into a tree, and onto my truck to sun himself. The overhanging branch has now been trimmed back, and I check my roof before I drive away. LOL.