The Parable of the Iguana

ig2I’m a shopaholic. I’ve learnt I suffered from this disease, when I first read the whole Kinsella’s saga about shopping. Whoever thinks it is all about fashion addiction, he may prove wrong, as, actually, it’s all about the thrill. The thrill of finding and owing the perfect pair of shoes or bag, which matches wonderfully with the perfect outfit. It is that thrill. And for the sake of 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 to 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 be able to satisfy us one day. Just like that iguana.

ig1Which iguana? I guess you would say, in case 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, so after an hour of walking 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, but we were so tired that we resolved upon stopping anyway. When the crabs sensed our approaching steps, they instantly disappeared in the sand, leaving large holes in the shore, but the iguanas didn’t move. They 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. After a while, I decided it was high time to fraternize with the hosts of that secluded place using the universal 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. I regarded it a great success.The iguana devoured the first, the second, the third crisp and seemed to be wanting for more. I was very proud of my experiment, but a French tourist, 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 was mortified and instinctively hid the body of crime behind my back. He, then, went away and, of course, I didn’t dare give another Pringle to the poor iguana, which kept on imploring me with its eyes for some more. However, every now and then the words of the French tourist echo in my mind and I have come to the following conclusion: we are nothing but the iguanas of a society that feeds us with artificial emotions, thus creating addiction for the sake of profit. And you know what? Even if now I am fully aware of it, well, it won’t be enough to cure my addiction. No, it won’t, that’s the problem.

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18 thoughts on “The Parable of the Iguana

  1. Loved your parable of the iguana and the thought that “we are nothing but the iguanas of a society that feeds us with artificial emotions, thus creating addiction for the sake of profit.” I don’t think I can be cured either, and I don’t have 85 pairs of shoes! A good post …

  2. The thrill of the chase — the unspeakable in pursuit of the unbeatable — the inability to distinguish between ‘want’ and ‘need’: it’s not a modern malaise but it’s indubitably one that shows no sign of abatement.

    Luckily I’m able to resist the allure of novelty, especially where fashion is concerned, save only in one respect — books. I don’t necessarily mean shiny new books, for secondhand ones will do; I mean books that I think I will enjoy I acquire at the rate of knots, scarcely keeping pace with discards.

    Unlike iguanas though I have fairly catholic tastes — bland suits me at times just as much as pungency.

      • ‘Catholic’ in the *universal* sense: I’m happy to jump from genre to genre, fiction to non-fiction, changing authors, styles, nationalities, etc etc. Unlike the iguana, which may develop an exclusive taste for salty snacks and never go back to its natural diet… 😁

  3. Great story. I didn’t know about iguana taste preferences and am not sure how much your generosity could have hurt them. Not much I suspect. However, you draw a good parallel to people addicted to novelty, those who prefer the latest and greatest. I’m not among them, but I see what you say happening all the time. I’m frugal so I am immune to the marketing ploys, but can understand how companies manipulate some people into wanting things that aren’t good for them. Of course the difference between iguanas and people is that people have critical thinking abilities, right? 🤨

    • Sure, but as you said, you are frugal, therefore immune to the marketing ploys, but I am not, so even if I believe to be endowed with some critical thinking ability, I shamelessly keep on behaving like iguanas. 😒

  4. I’m not buying it . . . if that had even a kernel of truth in it, I’d be offering pringles to every vegetarian I meet.

    . . . except, they already eat pringles and still they ride their highfalutin vegetarian horses.

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