My Life as a Turkey (Nature–PBS)

My Life as a Turkey premiered on Nature this week.  This is one TV show you won’t want to miss – it’s still being repeated on some PBS stations, and you can watch it online here.   Here’s the preview.

Don’t be fooled by the subject  – I know most people think of turkeys as dumb ugly birds – but this is a brilliant exploration of mind and nature.  The film is based on the 1995 book Illumination in the Flatwoods by Joe Hutto.  Hutto was given 16 wild turkey eggs which he incubated hoping that the hatchlings would imprint on his face – and they did.  He quickly learned that being a mother to the hatchlings required a full time commitment and spend all his waking time with them for six months, and followed them for over a year.

If you’ve seen the wonderful film Fly Away Home, then you’ll know about imprinting.  And even though this story is about how amazing wild turkeys are, and the power of imprinting, what really stands out is what Hutto learns about the conscious mind and living in nature.

Hutto got to integrate himself into the natural world like few people do.  He got to think like a turkey and realized these wild creatures were a whole lot more aware of things than we believed.

We think of humans as the only animal with self-aware consciousness – but new studies are suggesting that consciousness is a spectrum of awareness and even multiple kinds of awareness.  Some people suggest that animals have phenomenal consciousness – awareness of the world around them, and this is what Hutto descends into when he’s with his wild turkeys.  Through long intense observations he learns what the turkeys see in their world, and even learns their language.

This film shows Hutto becoming a Zen like guru of awareness.  Hutto  talks about how most people live in the future, always thinking about what will happen.  The turkeys live in an absolute now.  Like Ram Das teaches – Be Here Now.

But I don’t think I need to say any more.  Watch this show.  You can do it now from here.  I kid you not, you will be amazed.  No words I can say will prepare you.

JWH – 11/20/11

2 Responses

  1. I don’t have time to watch right now, Jim, but it sounds interesting.

    However, note that it’s domestic turkeys which are “dumb ugly” birds, not wild turkeys. It’s like comparing bighorn sheep with domestic sheep. There’s really no comparison.

    Domestic animals were deliberately bred to be dumb (the ugly we got for free).

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