Show of hands...how many of you sat in Philosophy 101, freshman year of college, pondering the following:
"If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?"
OK...you can put your hand down now. The answer is........NO!
My enlightenment unfolded as follows:
Driving home last Sunday, I was anticipating pulling into the gravel drive to see a herd of deer grazing in the open meadow to my left. This is not a daily occurrence but it was one of those classic Tennessee evenings where mist was hanging thick, turning the dusk-before-dark air into a glowing white billowing sheet. The deer are inclined to leave the protection of the woods when they are shrouded in this mist. Anyway, I pull into the drive, turn on my high beams and what do I see before me, not deer, but a very large, very old tree fallen across the meadow.
Yikes!!!!! My immediate thought was for the safety of the 20 people who had been there all afternoon and evening for a retreat. I carefully drove down the meadow to get a better look, praying under my breath that I wouldn't find a body or vehicle trapped underneath. Hindered by the mist and a soggy meadow from a very wet spring, I decided to retreat to the house for a little fact finding.
All was quiet, everything was in order, there were no notes, voicemail messages or emails announcing that anything out of the ordinary had happened, like the toppling of a 40 foot tree. This puzzled me. I went over the events of the day in my head. Slept in late (till around 9:00), hung out at the retreat house all morning, prepared for the arrival of guests at 2:00, left the retreat center at 3:00 for chorus rehearsal. Yep, nothing out of the ordinary there and no big crashing noises. The sleuth in me deduced that the tree must have fallen between the time the guests left at 7:30 and I arrived home at 8:00. Hmm.
Not satisfied with my sleuthing, I checked in with the guest who was staying in the small cabin at the edge of the woods. I asked her if she knew what had happened and her eyes got big as she said to me, "I heard a big crack at about 7:30 this morning, then there was dead silence followed by a whooshing sound, then a crash!." She continued, "I didn't realize what it was until I went to my car around noon. It's a good thing it fell where it did or my car would be pancake!"
I'm sorry...did you say 7:30 this morning? Holy Nancy Drew, I slept through the whole thing, had gone about my day picturing the world around me intact, not knowing someone had advanced the carousel in this slide show!
Now I have to rethink this whole philosophical question. Is the answer NO? Well, from my experience of that day, YES. From the experience of guest who heard the tree fall, the answer is YES. So I guess the answer is....
Life's funny like that.