“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
I’m sure most have read or heard the above question on the perception of reality at one point or another. Put simply it asks the question of whether we can say something exists without anything having perceived it. If no one perceived it, it may as well have never happened, it didn’t affect anyone. While the question originally stimulated philosophical and scientific responses, I like to think of it in the context of a human life.
Would you want to be like that tree? Having no effect, significant or not, on anyone or anything in this world? I think when it’s framed this way it can come across a very depressing scene indeed. I can’t speak for everyone, but I believe the purpose of life is to have significance. If you come into life and out again without having influenced anything worthwhile, what was the point originally? You could argue that you’re only here for happiness and enjoyment until death, which is great, but not if you derive happiness from significance like I do.
A want for influence in life can be a curse as well as a blessing. It can drive you to achieve great things, master skills and change lives, but the other side of the coin is that you’ll be especially unhappy when things don’t go your way. Having a large effect requires power, and achieving legitimate power can take years of personal growth as well as taking advantage of chance opportunities that present themselves. It means delving outside the comfort zone in order to expand it, changing and evolving as a person. It’s not easy, and many people would rather float through life, ever-unchanging.
They say change is hard because man is both the marble and the sculptor.
I think every should strive to be significant in life in a way that they think is important. I think a life without significance will suffer exactly what the tree in the previous analogy suffered, it had its existence thrown into question, or rather it was pointless. Don’t have a pointless life, there’s no reason to belief you’ll get another.
Featured Image: ©Moyan Brenn