A Turkey Will Tell An Eagle He Can't Fly


Photo Pexels.com

This time of the year, I think the bird that gets the most attention is the turkey. There are many stories about turkeys, but the one I would like to share today is a story that I created as a result of my teachings from people of Native descent. 

If you have ever seen a wild turkey, you will quickly find out that they have the ability to see a person at over 200 yards and quickly run away. They are very skittish, sleep in the trees, and walk silently on the ground, not to be heard by a predator, because they are the prey. Basically, they are content with where they are and have no intentions of doing anything else in life, because they have no comprehension of any other life.

At the time of European contact through the early 20th
century, many Native Americans did not read or write. If they wanted to share a teaching moment, stories were created to convey a moral for the children to learn... while having fun listening to a story.

During the springtime, hen turkeys lay their eggs in a ground nest and carefully sit over them for hours at a time. After several days of sitting on her eggs, one of the momma turkeys was tired. She just needed to take break. So, she decided to take a walk. 

The sun was shining, warming her face. The beautiful flowers were in bloom, and it was just a great morning. And, since she liked the change of scenery, she took another route back to her eggs. As she was walking back, she noticed something white that was nearly covered in leaves. As she got closer, she realized it was an egg. 

"Where is the mother? And, how did this egg get here?" she questioned.

As she began to walk away, she realized if she left the egg, the little one inside will not survive. She knew if she took the egg back to her ground nest and hatched it, she would be able raise the baby as her own, regardless of what type of bird it may be. Thus, she decided to take the egg back to her ground nest so that the little one would hatch. 

The other turkeys were curious what type of bird would hatch from the adopted egg. They waited with some anxiety. As the days went by, one by one the eggs started to hatch... including the mysterious egg. When the head of the orphan pushed through the shell, the others soon realized the baby was NOT a turkey. 

Many of the turkeys looked at it and said, “No, it cannot be!”

They were frightened of what it may do as an adult. But, the mother insisted she would raise the baby as a turkey, regardless of what it was, and she did.

As the orphaned turkey grew, it slept in the trees close to the others. In the mornings, the turkeys would flap their wings to stretch. But, when the orphan flapped its much larger wings, it would knock the birds to his left and right off the branch. 

The orphan knew that the elders would have answers to his questions, so he asked them, "am I a turkey?"

 The elders responded, “Oh little one, do not worry. Yes, you look different, but you will always be a turkey. Now go play.”

From the time the orphan could understand, his brothers and sisters called him names and said negative things like, “You're ugly!" ... "You're so clumsy!”...  And, “You don’t belong here. You should just leave!”

The adults did not fare much better. 

Consequently, the orphan had no self-esteem and no confidence, making him timid and frightened. When walking, he would keep his head down, trying not to look at the other birds. He had been defeated. Was it because of the way he looked or acted?

One afternoon, a turkey made an alarm noise indicating danger was nearby. A specific alarm call was made informing the others the “Shadow” was coming. 

All the turkeys gathered in the heavy thicket for protection. The parents were instructed to open their wings to cover the little ones, and one elder instructed the orphan to stretch his wings to cover his siblings. When he did, his wingspan covered most of his siblings. 

The orphan asked the elder, “Grandfather, what is the Shadow?” 

Grandfather looked at him and replied, “Grandson, the Shadow is an eagle. A great bird with courage and determination who can soar high in the sky. We stay near the trees and walk on the ground. He is called the Shadow because when he flies, he casts a long shadow onto the ground. The Shadow sleeps high above in trees or on a mountain top, while we sleep in low lying trees. The Shadow is brave with no enemies to harm it, while we are timid and shy. However, do not be mistaken, the Shadow is a deadly creature that will hurt us given the chance.”

As Grandfather spoke those words, the Shadow flew overhead just above the turkeys. The orphan, who had his wings outstretched looked up in disbelief as he closely looked at the Shadow. The orphan’s wings looked just like the Shadow's and the head of the Shadow looked like his! 

The orphan flapped his mighty wings and shouted, “Grandfather, look at me! I look just like the bird. Grandfather, AM I THE SHADOW?"

Grandfather lowered his head and replied, “Yes, my grandson, you are the Shadow. The elders knew what you were when you were little. We were fearful the day would come when you realized you were an eagle, so we made you timid, meek and fearful so that one day, when you realized what you are, you would understand the fear the turkeys feel every day. Grandson, in reality, we are fearful of you. Therefore, we raised you to have no confidence in yourself making you think, we were strong and brave.”

The orphan finally realized what he was... and what he was capable of. “I can fly to the mountain and soar high in the sky. I am capable of doing great things with my life.  I no longer need to worry about what others think of me. I will develop the confidence and strength that was taken from me as a child.” 

The orphan stretched out his wings and began a journey to the top of the mountain, soaring high into the sky. I AM AN EAGLE!

Moral to this story...

So often the negative images people see in themselves are a direct result of the perception of believing other people’s opinions of who they are and what they can do. 

For example, a bully tends to portray themself as important, brave or strong willed by making others feel inferior and weak. By portraying themself in this manner, they take the other person's confidence and courage away making them (the bully) appear in control. The bully lives through intimidation, fear and hatred.

It is important to understand that words spoken to others can impact the lives of many people. A child, who is raised in a negative environment, will, in most cases, continue that lifestyle in adulthood... spreading the negativity to others and to the next generation. 

In contrast, children raised in a positive environment tend to succeed in what they do because they were provided with encouragement, positive motivation and empathy.

It takes courage to believe in yourself... to step away from those who try to control or make you feel less of yourself.  Do not listen to the opinions of others, who are trying to bring you down; instead, form your own opinions. 

You are an eagle who can soar to the clouds... but, a negative turkey will tell you that you cannot fly. 

So tell me, who do you believe?

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