Last August, on my 30th birthday, I hiked all day and in the afternoon sat on a rock at the confluence of two arroyos, waiting. Next to me was a lizard with a blue belly, sunning itself quietly, waiting with me, it seemed, for my friend who would eventually arrive. My watch had stopped. I regarded the lizard silently. I had encountered lizards all over the place on that hike; most skittered into some low brush when they heard (or felt) the sound of my footsteps. This one was unalarmed. It was as though I had given up enough of my human self that I was no longer quite as threatening. I could be tolerated in the lizard’s space.

I read later that lizards symbolize the dreamtime, not sleep-dreaming but waking-dreaming, a state of mind where the world seems to open up and speak, without the usual static and interference. Of course, it isn’t the world that moves to make that happen but the mind that gives way. It usually requires a sacrifice of some sort, a wearing down of ordinary consciousness through time, silence, hunger or movement. I thought of that this week, two miles into a long hike, when I nearly stepped on a black lizard who was standing still in the middle of the path. It didn’t move as I approached. I paused. A thought surfaced in my mind that stepping over it would mean stepping into that dreamtime space. Would I sacrifice my humanness to let that happen?