Three chameleons crept out of a fitweed bush. They clambered down the rocky shore on their way for a drink from the river. Before they could reach their destination, a voice cried out. A large iguana had perched on a boulder in order to speak to other iguanas along the shore and its cry echoed from shore to shore.
“Stop!” said the iguana. “Stop! Stop imitating the cats that hunt us. You are injuring yourselves. Just because you have fought off a cat does not mean you can hunt like them.”
“We are strong,” came the reply from a young iguana. “How else should we learn to act but from other animals of might?”
“Fellow iguanas, be your true selves. Eat the bushes and the insects that you have always eaten. Swim in the pools that give you prey.” The iguana noticed the three chameleons a few feet below him. “Don't be like our cousins, the chameleons. They should be green lizards like us. But they change their colors from minute to minute and look, now they are grey and brown, the color of these rocks.”
A chameleon strode closer. He had been mesmerized by the speech of the elder iguana. Now he felt ashamed to be so unreliable and weak compared to the larger lizards.
“Our cousins change so much,” the iguana continued, “they can't know who they are anymore.”
The chameleon looked at himself. His body had changed to a pebbly color without much effort. For the chameleon it was a greater effort to turn green again. In imitation of the iguanas, however, he managed it. In half a minute, he transformed himself into a smaller version of the tough, steadfast lizards.
Just then, a kestrel spied the chameleon against the brown rocks. It swooped down and picked up the unfortunate lizard in its claws. The kestrel flapped its wings once and was gone.
“Truly, the iguana was right,” said one of the remaining chameleons. All of the other animals in the area hushed.
“How can you say that?” screeched the remaining chameleon. “Our friend listened to bad advice! He changed to be like an iguana and was killed!”
“He did not understand himself. We are not green lizards.”
The other animals looked to the sky, then back to the remaining chameleons.
“'Be who you are' is fine advice. But first you must know yourself. Then you can grow and change, as all creatures must, in harmony with your nature and not in response to what someone else thinks about you.”
The old iguana nodded and clambered backwards off of its rock.