The Silent Sound Of A Fallen Tree

20303488 - fisheye view of the giant sequoia trees in mariposa grove, yosemite national park, california, usa

If a tree falls on a deserted island, is there sound?

This is an interesting question since there is no one around to actually hear the sound. The question has a philosophical aspect to it in that it inquires about if we have to experience something to make it real?

In the case of the deserted island, there is no one there to perceive the sound, so you might say no there is no sound. There cannot be sound if someone is not there to experience it.

From a scientific standpoint we “know” that the crashing tree emits sound waves as the energy from the crash is released. So even if we cannot perceive it, we know that it occurs. The absence of evidence, hearing the sound waves, is not the same thing as evidence of absence, no sound like there would be in a vacuum.

Hearing the starting gun

Recently I was talking with a friend who travels extensively, and I was asking him where I should go to experience natural beauty. He had just returned from a family vacation to Yosemite National Forrest and suggested this place to me. There are many places in the US that I have not yet been, and Yosemite is one of these. I had remarked to him about how I wanted to go and see the drive through tree, the giant sequoia. My friend corrected me and informed me that the sequoia tree I was thinking of was in Calaveras, not Yosemite. Further, he informed me that the famous tree, known as the Pioneer Cabin had recently fallen over.

While I was over two thousand miles away from the giant tree when it fell. After learning about its demise, I did hear a sort of sound, a combination of a ticking clock and a starting gun.

This fallen tree made me sad since I knew that the experience of visiting the tree was no longer available to me. In essence, the fallen tree was a warning shot to me that time is ticking, and we should make the most of each day. One of the things that I had hoped to do someday is now no longer a possibility.

What I heard from the tree was that if you have things on your bucket list, do it while you can!

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
 No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

Time — Pink Floyd


RIP — Pioneer Cabin Tree and thank you for the not so gentle reminder that time waits for no man.

Originally published at Julian Kaufmann.