A tom turkey came prancing through our backyard the other morning. He appeared to be feeling his spring oats: his wattle was bright red and his head a shining blue in the morning sunlight. He twice stopped in the midst of his promenade through our and our neighbor’s yard to stand on his toes, stretch up his back and neck, huff and puff his chest to double normal size, and fan his tail.
He actually looked impressive, rather than like the gawky, laughable object that turkeys usually present. You could almost forgive Benjamin Franklin his endorsement.
Yet there was something forlorn about him as he strutted and fretted his moments upon our green stage, the sadness that clings to a lonely soul like the frayed collar of a shirt worn too many years.
For all his bright colors and cocky stride, he was alone.
If a tom turkey struts in a field with no hen to see him, does he exist?
I am enough of a materialist to believe that he does: my (or Henny’s) seeing Tom did not conjure him into existence; it merely imprinted him on my consciousness.
While Tom exists in objective reality, he is a singularity—in the mathematical (a unique point) sense rather than the astrophysical (he is not a black hole). As we all are: discrete chunks of matter, uniquely assembled, with our own special coloring and gait, our own favorite features (hey, baby, want to see my tail?) and self-perceived weaknesses (why couldn’t my wattle be as big as Tomás’s?).
And, like poor Tom, we all yearn to connect to others, to maintain our own integral personhood and at the same time bridge it to feel oneness with a group, a clan, a family (hope he doesn’t run afowl of a bad crowd), or—most gratifyingly—with one special person, the one who ignores those weaknesses (not doesn’t see them, but loves us in spite of them) and who treasures the few features about which we are so (mistakenly) vain.
Perhaps Tom is not so forlorn after all. Perhaps he is simply striding through the yards of life with faith in the Henny or flock of his future.
You could say that such faith is misplaced: he is as likely to find Henny as the Burgess Meredith–portrayed bank teller is to read his treasure of books, once the glasses break. But there are plenty of Henny’s out there (and more Toms, should that be his inclination). The only way to find them is to start walking.
There’s something noble about the search, however ungainly the gait of the searcher.
Maybe old Ben was right after all.
Words © 2012 AtHome Pilgrim.
All Rights Reserved.