If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
If a story is written, and nobody is there to read it, does it really exist?
If an idea is spoken, and nobody is there to act on it, does it make a difference?
If a life is lived, but never touches another life, did it matter?
The first is an old philosophical chestnut, and I’ve been endlessly fascinated by it. Are there some acts that really aren’t complete until there is somebody else to bear witness? Art is communication, after all. If the communication is not received, does that mean the art is incomplete?
The answer is, not necessarily.
We all want to make a difference. We all know we are going to die, so leaving something behind or creating a change in the world is the only way we can attempt some form of immortality, some measure of knowing we mattered. But the difference doesn’t have to be big. You brighten a stranger’s day with your smile. You tell a joke only your best friend understands. One person is enough.
Sometimes, that one person is you. And that’s okay.
I write this because recently I’ve picked up playing the piano again. I’ve been practising scales for an exam I will likely never take. I’m working on pieces that I doubt will be heard by anyone except the people who live with me (who might be sick of the music already, I’m not sure). For a while, I wasn’t really sure why I was doing this. But really, I do it because it’s fun. Because doing this brightens my day, touches my own life, and that’s something that matters.
A story, a song, a piece of art, none of these have to become famous masterpieces to truly matter. They only matter if they have changed one person. And if that one person is the creator, that’s fine too.
So start knocking those trees down. Nobody has to hear you.