If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
When I was home for the holidays, I was with my mom in the car as we drove past my old high school. She reminded me that my 10-year high school reunion will happen in 2021. I told her there is no way I am going to attend. She tried to convince me otherwise, but I don’t think it would be that much fun as I haven’t talked to any of my classmates in 9 years (with the exception of 2-3 people. That said, I don’t want to do that annoying thing where I cling to the same people the entire night). Who knows, it could be one of those things where I think it is going to be terrible, but then everyone is really nice and friendly.
Now, if you are wondering why I am mentioning this event that is well over a year away, it’s because this conversation with my mom reminded me of who I was in high school and that I didn’t have many close friends in my graduating class. I was kind of a floater. It seemed like each year of high school, I temporarily connected with different people. I was not a part of a particular clique like everyone else (or so it seemed). I had solid friends in the class above me and the class below me. I had friends who went to other schools. I was not lonely in any sense, this is simply an odd pattern I noticed.
I went to a large public high school. If I recall correctly, there were over 400 students in my class. I knew most people, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people didn’t remember me. I did not go to parties, hockey games, or football games. I was on the varsity figure skating team and was temporarily involved with the creative writing magazine (both were very small organizations), but other than that, I just did my own thing and was happy.
I recall this one cringeworthy moment in my 10th grade English class. We were giving presentations that day and the teacher said: “Alex is up next.” This guy, who happened to live in my neighborhood and who’s mom was friends with my mom, chimed in and asked: “wait, who is Alex?” First off, he could have figured it out himself by waiting a few seconds until I got to the front of the classroom to present. Secondly, was I really that quiet? This was in the middle of the semester. It was not the first week of school. (I clearly wasn’t participating much in classroom discussion).
There were other instances like that in high school. I am sure others who went to large high schools might be able to relate.
I’ve changed a lot in the last decade. College was a different experience for me, I had a very consistent group of friends (still friends today!) and I am excited to attend my 5-year college reunion at the end of May. We went to a lot of parties and even some sports games. I joined the dance club that put on a huge show every year. Oh… and I actually participated in my classes. In college, I made more noise.
Now that my personal story is over, I’ll get to the point. The age-old question at the start of the post was “If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Let’s not hurt ourselves trying to answer this question about sound specifically. The question is asking whether the existence of a perceivable entity is dependent on it being perceived. So in this context, my answer is that in reality, the tree still fell. If no one was there to see it or hear it, it still fell. Let’s stop worrying about perception.
We are too concerned with what others think. While caring in moderation might not be a terrible thing as it keeps us moving as a society (another blog topic). However, when it comes to individuals, like former high school classmates, we shouldn’t worry so much. Your existence is not dependent on their perceptions (in case you didn’t already know that :p).
I don’t know if I’ll go to this high school reunion. It will be a game-time decision. I might be conveniently too busy writing blogs.