I have no physics background, which is the genesis of my question.
In pop-science, it is frequently mentioned that Newton's apple didn't fall toward his head, but rather that his head came up and smacked the apple. Or, put another way, if you jump out of a window, you don't crash into the Earth, the Earth comes up and crashes into you.
Now, that is difficult to conceptualize since it is so far from daily experience. In other words, if one were sitting far away from Earth, viewing it from outer space, would one see oscillations of the Earth moving around smacking every free-falling object coming toward it? Meaning an apple falls from a tree in China, so Earth moves to the “east,” by some incomparably small number, in order to hit the apple; and an apple falls in the US, so it moves to the “west” to hit that apple.
That obviously isn't what it means, but that is how my non-physics-oriented brain tries to handle the information. How do I justify the Earth smacking something when it can't move in every direction to hit every object?