Turkeys; Understanding Zero to One

(writes “0-1” on the whiteboard)

I have this friend who’s told me on multiple different occasions that he wishes he could be a turkey. I feel like, of all the animals in the world, why would you choose a creepy and delicious one? You’re doomed to be scorned all your life and eventually served with mashed potatoes. Besides, don’t turkeys do that thing of looking up at the rain and drowning? How pathetic can you get? Well, the truth is, we can all be turkeys.

I’ve spent much of the last year convincing myself every day that my life is still worth living. Mostly this is because of a few traumatic events that occurred in my life last year. In March I was officially diagnosed with clinical depression and some PTSD. This has been good because I finally got medical attention for my emotional problems. I tell you this because I want to introduce myself to you as a failure. I never intended to make the mistakes I did; I never planned on getting my heart broken, losing my self-esteem, being afraid to answer the phone. I never wanted to be the girl crying in the bathroom stall. Can I not call myself a failure in this sense? I had a lot of great expectations for my senior year of high school. It’s hard to believe I spent most of my lunches in the science room, not talking to anyone, shutting out the world.

So now that I’ve established myself as a depressed failure and threatened you with turkeydom, I’ll get to the point. Lots of people, just like me, find themselves in unfortunate, unpleasant, and unexpected situations. Say they lose a loved one, they lose their job, they get an inhibiting disease, etc. They, just like me, might subscribe to the “life sucks and then you die” philosophy. You’d think that no one else has more right to think this than turkeys, right? One minute they’re the butt of the joke, and the next minute people are roasting and eating their butt. However, turkeys are more enlightened than some of us pessimistic people. They understand the concept of “zero to one.”

(points to the whiteboard)

Imagine that God is up in Heaven with all His creations, and He’s giving numbers to everyone to represent their place in the great scheme of things. Using the numbers from zero to infinity, He gives people more numbers if they have more potential for greatness. You watch as God gives Lady Gaga all the numbers between 2,000 and 3,000; that seems fair, you think. There’s no one else quite as interesting as Lady Gaga; her fashion choices are so hot they’re bacon. Then God turns to you and says,

“Well, my child, I’ve decided to give you all the numbers between zero and one.”

Your first thought is, “Why didn’t I think of a meat dress?!”

Really, though, can you imagine? Here you are, staring up at your creator, and even He seems to think you will amount to nothing. Ah, if only you were a turkey. You would realize that there is an infinite amount of numbers between zero and one. God is just being God; confusing you beyond belief while at the same time making His thoughts perfectly clear. He smiles wisely and says,

“My child, I have given you just what you need. Make of it what you will.”

Whether you like it or not, God is saying that you have infinite potential for greatness, although at first glance it may appear otherwise.  You can choose to be satisfied with infinite potential, or you can focus on the fact that you only got the numbers between zero and one. You can choose to be satisfied with your depression and anxiety issues, and allow yourself to be grateful for your opportunity to be alive, to make a difference in people’s lives, to experience love and pain deeply.

I am looking at a classroom full of failures. We have all been given the numbers between zero and one. Our lives won’t turn out the way we expect. We won’t achieve some of our dreams. Bad things will happen to us, some of them beyond our control. How do we measure our life when it hurts to admit we only got from zero to one? We have to forget the breadth of our existence and focus on the depth. Turkeys understand this.

Turkeys are debatably ugly creatures. They have these floppy red things all over their faces, called the snood, wattle, and caruncles. Male turkeys are bred too large to have natural fertilization without hurting the hens, so that part of turkey life is done artificially. They are produced on farms and kept in such close quarters that they can’t even stand up without touching another bird. What a sad life.

And yet, when it rains, turkeys look up.

Whatever the reason, and whether or not turkeys really do drown in the rain, when they feel the raindrops on their feathers, they forget the pathetic reality they exist in for a few precious seconds. They may even forget that their eyes don’t allow them to focus on what’s above them. For those seconds, with the water running down their back, with the steady rhythm of drops hitting the dirt, with the distant thunder rolling over the earth, turkeys partake of their own “zero to one;” their piece of eternity.

This is why we all can be turkeys. We have the ability to pause occasionally in life and look up. Despite our flaws, our faults, our mistakes, our regrets, we still can achieve greatness. We are all connected to that wondrous, flowing, bonding river of numbers, that eternal supply of remarkable human capability, no matter if we have a snood or anything.

I have experienced pain to a degree that I thought wasn’t humanly possible. I never thought I would end up like I am now. And yet, I need not be afraid to live my life. I know that I will fail again and again and again. I can be a turkey; I was given the numbers between zero and one. It’s up to me, and each of us, to decide that our lot of zero to one is equivalent to an infinite potential for good.


One thought on “Turkeys; Understanding Zero to One

  1. Pingback: More Turkeys | maney smiles back

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