Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award

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Who’s a turkey now?

As it turned out, no one stole my turkey. No one even paid it any attention. The turkey, substantially smaller than a Volkswagen (it was actually rather turkey-sized) had been on my porch for four days, tucked away safely into the seat of a baby stroller we keep out there.

Shortly after posting my last blog entry, I started to think that things were not adding up. My friends, Inga and Rimas, read the entry and asked themselves the same question I was asking: If you’re going to steal something from my porch, why not steal the $400 stroller? Why steal the $20 turkey? Things were not adding up. However, thieves are not logicians, so I thought perhaps food was more important than a stroller. Perhaps this thief, desperate for dinner, did not imagine transforming a stroller into enough turkey to feed an orphanage.

Apparently, I did not listen to a very important voice mail message which had detailed the turkey’s whereabouts.  I simply deleted the message, thinking I had all the information I already needed—how complex can this exchange be? I had checked the porch (in the dark). I had contacted Rimas to be sure he had been the one who rang at the critical hour. With no turkey on the porch, and no one who knew where it could be, there was only one conclusion: theft. Frozen turkeys do not disappear on their own, and they certainly do not rise from the dead.

Well, I came home last night to embarrassing news. My wife had found the turkey. It was in the stroller.

Now the lesson becomes even more fascinating. I must add my own delusion: I truly did believe, falsely but ever-so-strongly, that the turkey had been stolen. And my gentle elation in that moment was real, a result of loving-kindness for an imaginary thief. In fact, my elation continues to be so strong that I am thinking of where to donate this turkey.

But how fascinating. I had started out with no turkey. Prior to Inga’s phone call, I had not even the ambition for turkey. In the wake of her call, I was imagining a turkey to take up my entire oven leaving no room for even one potato. Then an actual turkey arrived and transformed into a daydream, a construct, a work of fiction complete with villains. I thought I was truly experiencing it. In that way, I truly *was* experiencing it, just as I experience all the constructs of my daily living. Now that the turkey has “appeared” and rests safely in my freezer (where I have more than enough room for bags of spinach and autumn herbs), I can meditate on the turkey’s emptiness. The lesson is suddenly clearer than it would have been had I greeted Rimas at the door and thanked him for the turkey.

In the meantime, I must be mindful to pay close attention to the messages people leave me.



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Stealing Turkeys: a Zen perspective

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 tukey 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.