Annaleah Tubbin

photograph of Annaleah TubbinAnnaleah Tubbin is an administrative assistant with Residential Services and is also pursuing an MA in Liberal Studies with an emphasis on History at Northwestern. She wants to be a teacher...whether of high school science or college-level musical theatre remains to determined. In her spare time, she fosters kittens with Treehouse Humane Society and loves to sing, dance and watch Top Chef.

'Counting the Lizards'

My mother was a teacher before she retired, so we spent every summer travelling. She loves the southwest, and every year we would take off from our Oregon home in her bright blue Jeep and spend weeks making our way across Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. We'd stop at every National Park and hike our hearts out, camping along the way.

My favorite thing to do while we were hiking was to find animals along the path. I've always loved animals, and my mother taught me how to be quiet and careful so that the various desert creatures would emerge in the early mornings. Beyond the normal birds, rabbits and various insects that skittered along the side of the paths, it was the lizard populations of the southwest that showed themselves to me the most. We saw lizards everywhere we went in large numbers and I would swear that they came out specifically to greet me. My mother taught me about totems, and how everyone has an animal that "speaks" to them personally.  As I allied up the numbers of lizards for each hike we completed, I began to realize how obvious it was that the lizard was my totem.

I learned amazing things from watching the lizards. I learned about them as animals, of course, how they do little lizard pushups to intimidate their prey, how their tails can regenerate if chewed off by apredator, and how their various colors have adapted to their environments. However, it is the subtler, subconscious lessons I learned about myself that I now value. How to observe small details of my environment, how to appreciate the contemplation that patience brings, how to invest the right amount of energy in anticipation and to manage my excitement. I've learned that I am my best and most honest self when I am in the fresh air, and that like the lizard, who adapts to its environment, I am always myself, but that my "self" changes  depending on my situation. I know that growth and success take hard work and perseverance. I know there is music to be found everywhere, and that you should dance to it as often as possible. I believe that knowledge is the best gift we can take for ourselves and give away to others...besides love, of course.

All of these truths I discovered along the hiking trails. If ever I waver in what I believe, it is the red rock...and the lizards...to which I can return to find the answers.