Thinking Like a Mountain
“As I write this, I am gazing out the studio window, looking at the view in the late afternoon light. I am listening to J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations transcribed from the original piano for chamber orchestra. I am thinking about how lucky I am…lucky to have Birgit and the other people around me…to have my daughter Sarah, her husband Rob, and our two granddaughters living over the hill about 10 minutes away. I am also very lucky to be living in a very charming natural setting. The mountain in my view is called Mount Maxwell, not very high (just under 2,000 feet) as mountains go, however, because of its steepness, it does have certain topographic distinction. It is the subject of this painting, which was originally done for the jacket of my book, Thinking Like a Mountain.
The title is based on some words of Aldo Leopold, the early 20th century’s Henry David Thoreau. He said that we should be thinking like a mountain with a sense of permanence and a long view. I see the mountain as a metaphor for our place in history at the beginning of the 21st century. We are at a peak of human power, wealth and information. We can see all the periods of history, all cultures and all corners of this planet, yet our view seems to have the perspective of the insides of our wallets. From our metaphoric mountaintop, we need to look behind at our wonderful natural and human heritage, and cherish and protect the abundant values to be found there. We need to look out to the sides and see other parts of the world that need our help, but that can also give us good ideas to go forward. The North American culture is not the only philosophy worth following. We need to look ahead, not just years, but generations, to be certain that our actions of today will make the world a better and richer and more varied place for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.”