The Big Iguana

A cartoon of a green lizard with eyes and mouth open.

        In Out of Africa, Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen) wrote:

“In the Reserve, I have sometimes come upon the Iguana, the big lizards, as they were sunning themselves upon a flat stone in a riverbed.  They are not pretty in shape, but nothing can be imagined more than their coloring.  They shine like a heap of precious stones or like a pane cut out of an old church window.  When, as you approach, they swish away and there is a flash of azure, green and purple over the stones.  The color seems to be standing behind them in the air, like a comet’s luminous tail”. 

“Once I shot an Iguana.  I thought that I should be able to make some pretty things from his skin.  A strange thing happened then, that I have never afterwards forgotten.  As I went up to him, where he was lying dead upon his stone, and actually while I was walking the few steps, he faded and grew pale.   All color died out of him as in one long sigh, and by the time that I touched him, he was gray and dull like a lump of concrete. It was the live impetuous blood pulsating within the animal, which had radiated out all that glow and splendor.  Now that the flame was put out, and the soul had flown, the Iguana was as dead as a sandbag”. 

“Up at Meru I saw a young Native girl with a bracelet on, a leather strap two inches wide and embroidered all over with very small turquoise-colored beads which varied a little in color and played in green, light blue and ultra-marine.  It was an extraordinary live thing; it seemed to draw breath on her arm, so that I wanted it for myself, and made Farah buy it from her.  No sooner had it come upon my own arm than it gave up the ghost.  It was nothing now, just a small, cheap, purchased article of finery.  It had been the play of color, the duet between the turquoise and the ‘ne’gre’, — that quick, sweet, brownish black, like peat and black pottery, of the Native’s skin,— that had created the life of the bracelet”. 

To me, the author is trying to convey that we shouldn’t covet what is not ours and attempt to obtain it by whatever means available to us at the time.  We have an expensive pickup truck sitting in our driveway that we bought three years ago thinking it would give us a lot of satisfaction.  Now, our big lizard (Nissan Titan) sits there in the driveway beside the small lizard (Prius), getting much less respect because it ambles down the road getting 13 miles per gallon (3.8 liters) while the innocuous little green lizard gets 50.  The lesson is easily understood: what we perceive to be beautiful now will not necessarily remain so as time passes.  We eventually find flaws in the things that fascinate us as we continue to look for more beautiful objects that we hope will add value to our lives.  Oddly, I can remember the very first shiny thing I was given as a young lad at about four years old.  It was Christmas, 1945, and I was living with my maternal grandparents.  World War II was approaching its end and most of the people in the small community where I lived in didn’t have very much.  But under the Christmas tree that year was a fairly good-sized package, about the size of a shoe box, with my name on it.  As I excitedly ripped away the paper and opened the box, there before my very eyes was this brilliantly red firetruck with silver for the ladder, wheels, and grille.  Isak’s iguana had nothing on my firetruck, and you know that without me telling you because 75 years later I can describe it in detail.  Probably the reason that big iguana is sitting out in the driveway right now is because of that silly little firetruck that I fell in love with all those many years ago. 😊  Kathleen Norris said, “To children, childhood holds no particular advantage.† I beg to differ.    

âš½ The late John Prine included the following verse in his song, “When I Get to Heavenâ€: “I’m gonna get a cocktail, vodka, and ginger ale, yeah, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s 9 miles long.† He was asked about that line in an interview, and the reporter wanted to know if he thought people could smoke in Heaven.  “Why not, why have a Heaven if you can’t smoke?  You’re not gonna die from it.  I wanna cigarette that’s 9 miles long.†

I can’t say that I’ve ever thought about what I would be doing when I’m accepted into Heaven.  I just always assumed it would be the perfect place to be.  I seriously doubt the residents of that magnificent place smoke, drink, or carouse.  In my opinion, you only do those things here on earth in a vain attempt to make life more enjoyable. Sometimes they do, but a lot of times it has just the opposite effect.  My belief about Heaven is that you cannot make it any better, or any worse, because it is perfection.

I think most of us have our own conception of what Heaven will be, and our Christian Bible does little to explain exactly what it will be like when we get there.  We do know the rules we must follow to get in, but we haven’t been told too much about the details of what exists there.  I have read several books about people who died and went there but had to come back to earth for various reasons.  The most memorable one was written by Don Piper: 90 Minutes in Heaven, which you can get on Amazon in the paperback edition for $7.

We have been told that we need not take anything with us from this realm to the one up there (Heaven is always referred to as being “up thereâ€) because we will have everything we need provided to us by our Lord and Savior.

So, in my opinion, if old John Prine made it “up there,†he’s not gonna ask the angels if he can “smoke a cigarette 9 miles long.†😊  But I do know that if I get there, I’m gonna ask the first angel I see, “can you tell me where the Hales & McCoys hang out?† After that visit, I’ll start looking for everyone else I loved and enjoyed on this wonderful planet.

Agnes Replier wrote, “There were no marriages in Heaven because women were there no doubt in plenty; but not a man whom any woman would have.† Hmm, I gotta think about that for a while. 😊