The parable of the iguana

ig2I’m a shopaholic. I’ve learnt I suffered from this disease, when I read the whole Kinsella’s saga about shopping. Whoever thinks it is all about the love for fashion, he may prove wrong, as it’s about the thrill. The thrill of finding and owing the perfect thing, which matches wonderfully with the perfect outfit, shoes or bags. It is the thrill. And for that emotion we lie first of all to ourselves and to the people we interact daily, saying that we do need it, that we cannot do without it and, of course, it will be just the last time. I will not be so. The psychological traits of Becky, Sophie Kinsella’s heroine, may seem absurd and comic at the same time, but they are actually real, so real that when my mother read “I Love Shopping”, she commented reproachfully :” it seems she knows you”

ig4However, in the opulent western societies the word “need” is not exactly what it meant years ago, as the powerful messages and stereotypes, we are bombarded with through medias every day, confound us in such a degree, that we find hard to distinguish the difference between what we want and what we need. Do I really need that brand new pair of shoes, the 85th pair in fact, or do I want it? Can I truly live well without the last technical gadget? Do I really need it? We slowly become addicted to that intense but short emotion of possessing the thing of our dreams and as soon as that moment of pleasure and satisfaction burns out, we need to replace it quickly with another one even stronger that might fill the emptied space of our soul and on, and on, and on. Till nothing will satisfy us. Just like the iguana.

ig1Which iguana? I guess you would say, if you ventured to read this post this far. Well, few years ago I made a fantastic trip down to Costa Rica. We drove along the Pacific coast, till we reached the most renowned national park of the country: Manuel Antonio. The scenery was breath-taking: tropical white sandy beaches surrounded by a luxuriant, wild nature. We decided to explore it all in the quest of the most beautiful beach. It was August, and after an hour of walk under the heat of the sun of those latitudes, we were so sweaty and worn out that we decided to stop. The nearest beach was named “Puerto Escondido”, well, it wasn’t actually the most dazzling one we had seen, furthermore, the sea bank was mostly inhabited by hundreds of huge colorful crabs and iguanas. However, we were too tired that we resolved upon stopping anyway. All the crabs instantly disappeared in the sand, leaving large holes in the shore, but the iguanas didn’t move and stood there not at all intimidated by our presence.

ig5After a refreshing swim, we lay down on the beach to rest and sunbathe. The iguanas had kept on observing us motionless like greenish prehistoric statues, till I decided it was high time to fraternize with the hosts of that secluded place using the language of food. As I had some Pringles with me, I approached the nearest iguana and I handed delicately one crisp. After some long seconds of immobility, the inanimate creature attempted a move, craned its neck, smelt the Pringle and gave a small bite. It was a great success. The iguana devoured the first, the second, the third crisp and seemed to be wanting for more. I was so proud of my experiment till a French tourist,ย who had seen the whole scene, came by and told me, well….he actually lectured me, that iguanas are vegetarian, that they are not used to salt and that with my “feat” I was destroying their sense of taste. Once tried those strong artificial flavors, they wouldn’t have gone back any longer to their usual, now tasteless, food. I learned the lesson and I kept on thinking about those words. We are the iguanas of a society that feeds us with artificial emotions, thus creating addiction for the sake of profit. And you know what? I don’t think this will cure my “little” compulsive problem. ๐Ÿ™‚ig3


19 thoughts on “The parable of the iguana

  1. Less things you need best you are. People most advanced live with a few things this is my point of view. Fill yourself with sensations smells smiles kisses looks games not with things.

  2. I’m a shopaholic on one item only: books. How can one turn down a book on the history of newspapers? Or the latest installment in a fiction series about cryptozoological creatures and the people who protect them? However, to paraphrase an old advertising slogan, can I read just one? Or at least can I keep my reading within manageable bounds?

  3. Stefy I don’t have the shopping addiction but possibly the travel addiction. Perhaps it is the same of not being able to get enough of a new place or a new culture. Fascinating about the iguanas. Perhaps they just thought it was a wee treat and went back to their usual feeding. I can’t think that one dose of Pringles would change their instinct.

  4. Hi Stefy: Great reflection on consumerism. Marketing is the engine of consumerism. And the one of the main purposes of marketing is to denigrate the individual: you are not attractive enough, not hip enough, not smart enough, not technologically savvy enough etc. — unless you buy our latest product or service! Buy it today! One of the most important lessons we must teach as parents is how to navigate such a commercialized, commoditized world, to think critically about the difference of needing vs. wanting something, determining what is the proper value for that item, and living within their means (because financial companies want you to be in debt because it is very profitable). Sadly many people define their lives or success by what they own. Many years ago, Leo Buscaglia the avuncular psychologist, said: “It is OK to own possessions; however, your possessions should not own you.” To that, I would add: they also should not define you. If we turn to the ancient Greeks for wisdom they tell us everything in moderation. For another view of the human malady, read: “Stuffocation: Why Weโ€™ve Had Enough of Stuff and Need Experience More Than Ever” by James Wallman. Cheers. Alex

    • Uhmm…”your possessions should not own (define) you” .. this is really sound advice for anyone who suffers from addictions like mine. Once again thanks a lot for your valuable comments, Alex.

  5. However, in the opulent western societies the word โ€œneedโ€ is not exactly what it meant years ago, … Well the parable of the iguana exemplifies this well… And yet in their defense, being a vegan might not be easy!!!!…. Oh temptation… All my best wishes, dear Stefy Aquileana โญ

      • My mistake… I only eat chicken and fish plus everything else including eggs.. How do you call that in English… I think there is not a name…
        There was a time as was teenager in which I didn’t eat any kind of meal… I was quite skinny and weak. But it didn’t last long, my parents didnยดt let me!. Hugs Aquileana ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Nice story. True, shopping is a thrill and I’ve only discovered how amazing the shopping spree is the past few years. Get out for a day and just spend alot of money… it is not very healthy for you that’s for sure. Sure the iguanas are fine, after three crisps. Back at the beaches in Sydney Australia the locals always scowl at the tourists who feed them their leftover fish and chips… those seagulls have become aggressive!

    • Tourists are all the same in every part of the world. The temptation to feed the strange animals we meet is strong, without caring of the consequences ….however…it was funny.
      Thank you for dropping by, breeze from the North ๐Ÿ™‚

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