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Elizabeth Reninger

"If a tree falls ..."

By November 13, 2012

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A couple weeks ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I sent an email to a longtime friend -- who now lives in Washington DC, where she is deeply engaged with national politics -- asking her how she had fared.

She thanked me for my concern, assured me that she was safe, and then -- knowing my distinctly apolitical tendencies -- added: "By the way, Beth -- in case you haven't heard -- there's an election this coming Tuesday. Please vote." To which I replied, tongue in cheek: "Don't worry, I've already submitted my mail-in vote for Mitt (tee hee)"

I was reminded once again of this exchange, when reading an essay by baroness radon, which begins with the question:

"When you are out of touch with media, does anything really happen? If you don't hear/see the alert/storm/debate, did it really happen?" Apparently, it took her several days to figure out, from her home in Hawaii, that the jokes playing off of her given name, Sandy, referred to an actual hurricane :)

Jokes aside (and all good wishes to those still in the thick of hurricane-recovery) the issue of the extent to which perceptions determine reality, is a very interesting one -- made famous by George Berkeley's question: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

I've explored the question, in relation to Taoist practice, in a new essay, which I hope you'll enjoy.

Comments
November 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm
(1) baroness radon says:

I’d already forgotten about that comment, having subsequently departed for none other than Washington DC and a weekend in Portland, Ore. Now I’m back home in the islands, wondering if it all happened. (If it didn’t, why am I so jetlagged?) I was in DC for the election returns (which never really included Hawaii, Obama, more or less native son, was declared winner before our polls closed), saw little storm damage, but lived in the threat of another, which did not really materialize. I feel like I’m moving around all the happenings, in some kind of push hands of current events. And I’m off for the East Coast again next week. I overheard someone in DC thinking of a tropical holiday, dismissing Hawaii because “it takes so long to get there.” (He chose St. Bart’s.) People come here once in a lifetime; we leave often to get anywhere.

I enjoyed your essay!

November 18, 2012 at 9:37 am
(2) Elizabeth Reninger says:

“People come here once in a lifetime; we leave often to get anywhere.”

indeed …..

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