Essay by Martha Quillen
Trees – August 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine
Recently Ed got an E-mail from a friend who passed on this impenetrable little Zen koan:
If a man speaks in the forest and there is no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?
Columbine and I both answered “yes,” immediately. After all, wrong is wrong.
But then I thought about it for a minute and reconsidered. After all, if men only communicated their wrongness to trees, there would actually be a certain rightness about men.
Come to think of it, if both men and women only voiced there wrongness to trees, the whole world would be a better place.
Unfortunately, however, I then deliberated upon the imponderable for a few seconds too long; because suddenly I realized that in a world where we all confided our wrong-headed notions only to trees, there would be no journalists, no columnists, and no talk show hosts.
Why, under those circumstances, there might not even be any novels.
At that point, after such a disillusioning bout of contemplation, I found myself reluctant to impart any of my notions, right or wrong, even though it was my turn.
Actually, the real truth is, I started a letter about the problems people are having with local government, but just my notes for the piece ran more than fifty pages. So I guess I’m going to have to narrow the subject, and try to work it out for next month.
Therefore, this month, and this month only, Ed and I will spare you our thoughts, and leave you to your own.
As for me, now that my letter is completed, I think I’m going to walk around town to see if the trees have anything interesting to impart.
Or maybe I’ll just bury my head in a big, fat volume of dead trees.