Stealing Turkeys: A Zen Perspective

Gint Aras on letting go of anger and poultry.

I had a turkey stolen off my porch this weekend.

My friend, Inga, had called me several weeks ago to ask if I wanted a “…turkey the size of a Volkswagen.” I said that yes, I wanted it (even though I don’t have room for it in my freezer).

Her husband decided to drop it off this past Saturday. He had tried to get in touch with me but I had left my phone out of audible distance. I was putting my son to bed in a dark house when my daughter came up and said, “Dad, there was someone making ding dong.” (She’s three.)

I had not heard the doorbell.  I don’t ever dispute my daughter’s claims about reality (even when she’s telling me that giraffes are getting haircuts in our yard, I see them myself) and went out to see if some solicitors or preachers were out in the dark street. I saw no one and figured kids had been out selling chocolates for their schools. Our neighborhood sees them very often and they move quickly.

Apparently, in the time between my friend dropping this turkey off (one that had been the size of a Volkswagen) and the time it had taken me to come out on the porch—this could not have been more than twenty minutes—the turkey disappeared. There is no animal (besides a person) in our community who could take a turkey this size, certainly not a frozen one.

Prior to having started my Zen practice, I would have been furious and depressed. I would have blamed myself for not hearing the doorbell, and I would have been calling my friend with every possible apology. Amazingly, I don’t feel this way, not in the least. I actually feel a gentle elation.

I do not need a turkey. I will only have two visitors this Thanksgiving and they, Europeans, would rather eat fish. My plan was to smoke the turkey with a friend and then to divide it up among people. It seems I won’t need to do the work. The turkey found someone all on its own, someone who is needy or does not have the will to buy or shoot one. Perhaps it was someone who could buy his own turkey but now feels jubilation.

“A score! These fools left a turkey on their porch! Idiots! It’s mine!”

I am sincerely happy for this person. I really do hope the bird feeds a large number of people. I hope the person who prepares it does it with care and interest, and I hope the person who took it feels the freedom to tell everyone at their table how thankful he is that a turkey had been waiting for him on a stranger’s porch.

It had never been my turkey. This experience makes it clear. No turkey is ever ours. I’m so thankful to be able to see this with clarity and peace.

This article originally appeared at Liquid Ink

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—Photo jdolenga/Flickr

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About Gint Aras

Gint Aras has two decades of experience teaching, over ten of them in a Chicago-area community college. He writes a weekly column, True Community, about young men and education. His writing has appeared in St. Petersburg Review (forthcoming, 2014), Antique Children, Criminal Class Review, Curbside Splendor, Dialogo, Šiaurės Atėnai and other publications. He's a photographer and the author of the cult novel, Finding the Moon in Sugar. Check out his website, Liquid Ink. Follow Gint on Twitter @Gint_Aras and "like" him on Facebook.

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