If You Drop Twelve Donuts in a Forest and No One Hears About it, Do They Add Up to a Dozen?

You stop for a coffee in the morning, grab some lunch, download a ring-tone, and maybe rent a movie later … that all adds up.  Five dollars here, twelve there, another couple bucks …

It adds up.

But … then I heard Gary Gulman say this once in one of his standup shows and while it’s funny, it’s wisdom.  He says it like this, “Let me tell you something and pay attention, because this is true.  It only adds up, if you add it up.”

It only adds up … if you add it up!  Funny, but I had to press pause and think about it.

If we do add up the morning coffee, lunch, ring-tone, and movie, we’re coming in at around $20.  And we probably don’t rent movies every single day, download a ring-tone, or even buy lunch, so at the end of the week, maybe we’re looking at $65.  I mean, we gotta have our coffee.  That’s about $3,380/year.  Or $9.26/day.  Or just .66 cents an hour, if we’re awake for 16 hours a day. 

But, that’s just adding up numbers in a vacuum without taking into account life’s little appreciations, pleasures, and personal enjoyment.  Things that make life a little smoother.  I mean, what’s four dollars for a movie, when it has given us not just two hours of entertainment, but happiness, pleasure, enjoyment, decompression, and if we’re watching it with others, a shared social experience. 

You really can’t quantify the overall value of an experience and if we try, we do the whole thing an injustice.  If the coffee makes our 30-minute commute less stressful, then it’s very worth it.  Stress is a killer.  Can’t put a number on that.  Besides, just thinking about it and adding it up is stressful in and of itself. 

As British Philosopher Kit Fine says, “Numbers are not physical objects. No one has ever bumped into the number two or tripped over the number three.  They are not mental objects either.  The thought of the number three isn’t the number three.  Nor do numbers exist in space or time.”

Right.  So if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  Scientifically, yes.  Philosophically, well … if no one is there to perceive it, then a human eardrum didn’t vibrate, so there’s no sound.  But, if someone was there to perceive it and our eardrum vibrated, then it makes a sound.  However, that just proves there is a sound to be perceived, so it did happen!   

With that said, do donuts eaten add up if we don’t add them up?  Yes!  But, we don’t need to add them up. Two on a Sunday morning every now and then don’t need a calculator, fitness tracker, or food scale.

For the most part, being conscious, aware, responsible, and informed is good enough, because we know.  Unless we’re in denial, we know we’re we stand.  There’s a difference between a little and a lot and we know we’ve gone too far when it’s too much.  Too much is too much.  We know what too much is. We can feel it.

And then there’s not enough.  We know we haven’t done enough when the results are less than stellar. 

However, when its important, we need numbers to measure space and time, to count, score, monetize, compare, and quantify.  It’s comforting (even when its uncomfortable) to know where we stand.    

We’re here in this existence for a very limited time and the human species in it’s entirety is barely a blip in universal terms.  When it needs adding up, yeah … we should add it up.  Rent doesn’t pay for itself. 

For the most part though, it’s about happiness.  There’s no tracker or scale for happiness, yet there’s nothing more important for our well-being, quality of life, and longevity.  So go, travel, do, experience, laugh as much as possible, be social, have fun, be happy and try not to keep score of every damn thing. 


Photo by Slashio Photography on Unsplash

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