How to Think Like a Mountain

Do mountains actually think? Maybe they just feel. Perhaps they simply know.

From Aldo Leopold’s classic essay (read ‘Thinking Like A Mountain’ here) to my current favorites by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (check out her newest book here), nature writing has changed a lot over the years, but there is a common thematic thread: interdependence. The mountain knows she needs grass and deer and wolves. She knows we are all connected. The green fire does not only dwell within the wolf and mountain, but also burns deep inside our own hearts.

Leopold writes, “Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.” But why would you want to? We are not objective beings and neither are mountains. I want to listen to the howl of a wolf and feel something. Fear, love, sorrow, joy- all of the above. I want to be anything but objective. I want to be wild when I listen to wolves.

If “wildness is the salvation of the world,” as Thoreau wrote, then perhaps being and knowing (instead of thinking) like a mountain will help us discover the wild inside. It will be painfully simple and profoundly healing. Like breathing. Or watching the sun rise while watching the sunrise. But it will be worth it, because then we can save the world.

Make your green fire fierce. Less thinking, more mountains.

Photo by Simon Matzinger on

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