What Are Advantages and Disadvantages of Living Like a Mountain?

The ecologist Aldo Leopold coined the notion of living and thinking "like a mountain," which refers to taking the long-term view of situations; while looking at decisions through this lengthy tunnel gives one considerable foresight, it also eliminates the ability to make many spontaneous decisions, for fear of what might happen months and years down the road, leading to lost opportunities. Leopold used the metaphor to describe how a mountain feels about the balance between wolves and deer in their habitat. Eliminating wolves might turn a mountain into a hunter's paradise, because of the larger numbers of deer to shoot, but the deer would also wreak havoc on the grasses and trees on the mountain, leaving it bare, and it is this outcome that the mountain considers.

Taking the long view of decisions is a step that could have helped humanity avoid many of the more calamitous events of history. For example, when researchers were working on atomic power, if they had spent more time considering the destructive power that would come with atomic fission and fusion, they might have thought twice about uncovering even the helpful side of atomic power.

However, long-term views that take consideration of the worst often miss out on opportunities. If Thomas Edison had been discouraged by his failures, the world would have spent still more decades lit by candles and without the joys of recorded music.