If a tree falls in the forest with no one to hear it fall, does it make a sound? – A question that people have been pondering for centuries.
When we take a scientific point of view and think of sounds as vibrations that trail through the air or another medium, the answer to the question would be yes.
But there are many philosophers who think that a sound needs someone or something with ears to perceive it, a sound needs to be heard. So, if a tree falls and there are no ears to hear that, the tree does not make a sound. At least one cannot proof it.
Many could approve both answers. It doesn’t really matter, does it? It does not really mean anything to us, if the tree made a sound or not. What would? What is it that makes a sound meaningful?
That’s were a human presence (or that of any other living being with ears) becomes crucial. A sound needs someone to hear it to become important. A mere sound itself does not mean anything to anyone before that. Without getting too deep into the philosophy, science, or psychology of sounds, we do know that when we experience sounds, certain parts of our brain react. If the experience is strong enough, it becomes meaningful and creates a memory.
But as we are human, time takes its toll, and to clearly recollect sounds becomes harder year after year. Luckily, the same sound that created the memory can help us. Hearing the same sound again triggers our brain and can reconnect us with our past experiences. Sounds wonderful, does it? Even there’s a problem: The sounds, voices, noises, and soundscapes that surround us constantly change. The sounds that we once experienced, might not be available anymore, because sounds happen in time, then and there, and they are dependent on the sources that made them.
What is there to do?
Be there, be present. Make sure you’re around when those meaningful trees fall. Record the wonderful sounds you experience – that’s the stuff that lasting memories are made of.
The waves left a salty taste on your lips. The soft wind playing with your hair when you rested in mother’s arms. The distant screams of the seagulls following the returning fishermen’s boats. Let’s listen, until it’s time to go back.
There are times when we notice that we are being oblivious, forgetful and absent-minded. This is often related to tiredness, stress, and exhaustion – often causes of busy working life.