The video that was posted by a curmudgeonly YouTuber criticizing the city of Camden, New Jersey had been playing on my laptop for a few minutes when I was distracted by movement across the street. A large bird had discovered my across the street neighbor, Chuck’s squirrel feeder full of corn. For several minutes, I couldn’t determine what type of bird it was because its head was turned away from me.
I clicked away from the toxic video then went outdoors to observe the big bird. A car drove past and startled the creature, causing it to turn towards the street. Seeing the head and neck, I recognized the bird as a wild turkey. The peculiarity of a turkey scarfing down squirrel food triggered my laugh reflex. In response, the turkey gobble gobbled then resumed its meal.
After perhaps 15-minutes, the turkey finished emptying the feeder, decided to move away from Chuck’s house, and casually strutted across the street to the vacant lot next to my property. By then, I had fetched one of my cameras and clicked a few frames. Hopefully they would turn out OK because the overcast, dusk daylight was dim and the camera was not mounted on a tripod. In hindsight, I should have grabbed the camera that is always kept on a sturdy tripod–oh well.
The neighborhood event was minor and hardly noteworthy except for the fact that I was greatly amused by it. That a hungry turkey had been eating squirrel corn for a quarter of an hour and not caring one iota about its surroundings made my evening more pleasant.
I later reflected upon the turkey’s behavior and my reaction to it and felt glad about feeling amused. There is so much trouble in the world and we people take ourselves so seriously that we need an escape valve. People who know how to laugh at themselves and the world will never cease to be mentally engaged with their curiosity. There is something valuable about being able to set aside our sombre emotions for awhile and just laugh at the absurdity of the Universe.
I’ve always harbored some envy for professional comedians like Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams. They had the ability to trigger delight and laughter without resorting to insults, ridicule, and cheap shots. In my opinion, they were clowns in the truest sense of the word. If anything, they were often the butts of their own jokes without going overboard into self-pity. Their careers were probably more satisfying than those of people who build walls to divide society and cause discord. Winters and Williams spent their lives making their world a better place. I used to sometimes wish my personality was more in line with that of a clown. On the other hand, I’m glad that it doesn’t take much to make me laugh.
Life events create the fodder for memories, creativity, wisdom, and sometimes humor. It is humor that puts life in perspective in relation to the vast, fickle nature of the Universe. So while Camden, New Jersey, and the world deteriorate into decrepitude, we can choose to savor the delight and amusement we discover in the world around us.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the youngest living U.S. Marine Corp, Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter. “I’ve always been energetic, loved life and have always been easily amused by things.”