My Toltec Mentor, Allan Hardman shared the following story a few years ago on a teleconference. I have added some of my own elements and insights but Allan is credited for most of the story .
There once was a Turkey named Tom who lived with a small group of other turkeys in a large abandoned turkey farm.
Tom was an odd bird of sorts, he was always trying things that all the other turkeys found to be unusual and sometimes dangerous. He was always thinking, believing and saying things that other turkeys disagreed with.
One day Jacob the lead turkey confronted Tom and told him that he was concerned for his well being. Tom said “ why are you concerned? I am just fine, I am happy.” Jacob went on to explain that his behavior was unacceptable not only because some of his acts were dangerous, but his behavior has caused others to be concerned that he was crazy. Tom had never considered what others had thought of him until now. He decided to listen to Jacob, because he seemed to make sense, so he stopped doing and saying crazy things in an effort to be like everybody else.
After a few months of trying to be like everyone else, Jacob went to Tom and told him that he was happy about how Tom had been behaving himself. Tom responded by telling Jacob that he felt depressed and bored. He said “When I do crazy things I am happy and I learn new things all the time. I cannot be happy trying to be like everybody else, because I am not like anybody else. I feel different than all the other turkeys, I always have and I don’t care what they all say, I am going to do what makes me happy no matter what!
So despite Jacobs admonitions Tom went back to his wild stunts and crazy antics. Soon his depression lifted and he began to feel strong again. One day he felt so strong that he began to flap his wings and run around the yard. All the turkeys laughed at him; One said “look at this fool, what does he think he is doing? What a waste of energy, all that flapping and running. That will get him nowhere fast!” The turkeys laughed so hard that it tickled their gizzards. Jacob told them to stop laughing, this isn’t funny! he said. “It is plain to see that Tom is crazy and we would all be better off not paying any attention to him. Just ignore him”.
One day Tom confidently strutted up to Jacob and said “I think I can fly” Jacob told him that this was not possible, “no turkey has ever flown, we gave up trying years ago” he said. The other turkeys overheard Tom and laughed uproariously. Tom had had enough with these turkeys, he felt a surge of energy well up inside him and then he said “I can prove it, watch me” Tom ran off flapping his wings while the turkeys laughed and laughed. Just before Tom reached the fence he felt lighter and lighter and soon found himself above the ground. Tom flapped his way over the fence and never looked back. When Tom was high in the sky, he noticed that the whole world had taken on a new perspective. The world was much larger and more beautiful than he ever imagined. He realized that much of what he was told about the life of a turkey was only a small fraction of the truth.
Tom suddenly caught an immense updraft and found himself soaring with some other birds. When he saw them he realized that they looked just like him. “Hey, You look just like me he said!” “You are turkeys who can fly too!” Adam the alpha eagle flew up next to him and said “whoever told you that you were a turkey?” “ Jacob, the lead turkey did, and so did all the other turkeys on the farm!”
Adam said “well the truth is, you are not a turkey, you are an eagle! Tom said “ that explains why I have always felt like there was something more to me. Why would everyone lie to me an tell me that I am a turkey?” Jacob replied “Tom they are all eagles living like turkeys on a turkey farm. “But why? asked Tom” “They live in fear and they do not want to venture beyond what they know, so they have lived there for years never knowing that they were eagles living and thinking like turkeys.”
Adam took Tom under his wing and for over a year taught him the ways of the eagle. One day Tom was out soaring and saw what he thought was the old farm. Tom descended toward the farm and when the turkeys saw him coming, they shrieked and ran away in fear. Tom landed near one of Jacobs favorite spots. When Tom spotted Jacob he flew right over to talk to him. Jacob stopped trembling when he recognized that it was Tom. “Jacob, it is so good to see you!” Tom began to tell Jacob all about flying and the things that he learned from the eagles perspective, but Jacob said nothing. Tom realized that Jacob did not understand him. No matter how much he tried to get Jacob to understand, he simply could not.
Tom went to the other birds and tried to tell him what he learned and experienced. Some of the birds laughed at him and other birds began to tell him he was a crazy liar. They could not believe his story, it was impossible they said.
Tom could not figure out what was wrong, so he flew off to consult with Adam . He told Adam that he went to visit his old friends but no one seemed to understand anything he tried to tell him. Adam said “Tom, they did not understand because you were talking eagle to turkeys. You have to talk turkey to them, and while you do, you have to add some eagle talk in there a little at a time. If you talk too much eagle at once, they may not understand you or believe you. Some may not appreciate you for talking eagle because what you are offering them means change and since they habitually resist change and alternate viewpoints, they will reject you and they may even try to punish you or even kill you.
Tom went back to the farm and started talking turkey. They all understood him until Tom said “ you are not turkeys, you have been lied to. You can fly just like me if you want to. The turkeys looked at him and laughed, “there he goes talking crazy again” one said. He thinks that we are eagles, how absurd! No matter how hard Tom tried, the turkeys would not listen to him.
Later on Tom met Adam and asked “ I simply cannot get those turkeys to understand!!!” Adam wrapped his right wing around him and said “ Tom, don’t expect to ever be able to talk eagle to them or for them to change….ever! They are comfortable in their turkey world and there really is nothing wrong with that.
You and I know a different way of perceiving life, but that does not make our view any better than theirs. We simply prefer our view over theirs. We see how their view may work against them, but who are we to judge or interfere with how their life unfolds?
If those eagles choose to be turkeys then so be it. It is not for us to decide. One day one just like you, they may recognize their eagle-ness and take flight with us.