If a Tree Falls

5 Aug

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Apparently this philosophical question has been batted around for decades, even hundreds of years. I have always thought it to be about the dumbest and most egocentric question I have ever heard. AS IF sound is completely dependent upon some human to hear it. AS IF nothing exists unless WE say it does. That’s an incredibly arrogant point of view. Just ask my dog, who hears the rumble of thunder long before I do. Sound is not dependent upon me.

However, speaking of trees, I have had some interesting trees in my camera viewfinder this summer. This tree pictured below houses some red-headed woodpeckers. Earlier in the spring when I saw it, though the tree appeared to be quite dead, it stood straight and tall. When I saw it again this summer, it looked as if it had been struck by lightning and had cracked and would have fallen to the ground, had it not been caught by a neighboring pine tree. It still houses the woodpeckers, though I’m sure they had to rearrange their nest now that it has a major case of lean-itis.

Woodpecker peering into tree hole

Leaning tree

Woodpecker peering into tree hole

Close-up of Red-headed woodpecker in the leaning tree

The other tree I have found this summer was standing quite tall and majestic in a winery vineyard. It appears to be dead, too. It strikes quite a pose as it stands completely alone in the vineyard, with no other trees nearby. You can see that there’s a bird perched in it, too.

Like a tree planted by the grape vines

When this vineyard tree falls one day, and I’m sure it will, I imagine that the sound will be something like a loud “thud” and it might even shake the ground when it hits, since there will be nothing to catch its fall. When the woodpecker tree fell sometime this late spring or early summer, I imagine that the sound it made was something like a “crack” followed by a slow “whoosh” as it fell over to rest in the arms of the pine tree nearby.

Why the difference? A scientist would have a different answer than the one I’m going to suggest. So would a sound technician. “Blah, blah, blah” is the sound I imagine coming out of their mouths.

The difference, and I’m sure you’ve guessed it already, is the woodpecker tree is surrounded by a community of other trees who caught it before it hit the ground. The landing was quite soft. Sadly, the lone vineyard tree has no other community of trees to provide a soft landing. It will fall hard.

As I get older, I have to work a little harder, I think, to make sure that I surround myself with a community of friends, family, and companions in my life’s journey. It’s very easy for me to sit at home and isolate myself in some way. At the end of the work day, I am tired, and so it takes a little extra effort to go out with friends or make plans with those I love. I have watched some older people isolate themselves, too. It takes energy to be with other people, let’s face it. Even extroverts get tired, or so I hear.

I think that some of my fellow XLH-ers, too, probably get tired from the amount of physical energy it takes to actually get out, if they are able. This probably applies to others who are becoming less-abled either due to aging or due to medical problems. One of my relatives, whom I love very much, is finally getting some help narrowing down her diagnosis of an auto-immune disease. She’s ready for whatever help she can get so that she can feel better. Right now, though, reaching out to those around her takes a lot of energy, but she is managing to do that. I think she understands the importance of community and I hope she’ll continue to reach out to me and others for support.

We’re all going to fall someday, in some way. We may fall emotionally, spiritually, morally, or mentally. We may even fall physically. (I usually have about one big “splat” per year, and thank goodness, I’ve already had mine this year so the rest of the year is looking pretty good.) I ask myself and invite you to ask yourself, “Have I surrounded myself with a community of others who might catch me or at least let me lean on them awhile?” I hope that I am doing that. I hope you are doing that. We need each other. Maybe physically getting out is impossible for you—I know that it is for some. Have you tried social media, like Facebook? Can you join an online support group? We XLH-ers have a wonderful group, found at xlhnetwork.org, and I know that many other support groups exist for people who need support for one thing or another. I have rarely commented in my group, but just reading the comments and emails of others makes me feel like I’m part of a community that cares and understands my particular medical condition. These days, there are support groups for all kinds of people, so it’s a lot easier to find folks with whom to connect. I even know some people who are not a part of a faith community that meets in a building somewhere because they’re disenchanted and disappointed with organized religion and yet they still meet regularly with like-minded friends who share their beliefs and desires to make the world a better place. Often we can just take a look around and find someone on whom we can lean.

Better yet, we can be that person who is close by, waiting to catch someone when they fall.

Copyright Banjogrrldiaries and S.G. Hunter, 2013-2018

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2 Responses to “If a Tree Falls”

  1. mudtherapist August 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    beautifully described and illustrated.

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