Laughing Bird Mountain


I’m hiking up the McDowell Mountains this morning as the sun wakes up, trying to clear my head after mistakenly watching the ugliness of the morning news.  Nothing but hate, controversy, possible corruptness, childishness, you name it.  Being a couple of miles east of Scottsdale, AZ, the mountains repose in peaceful tranquility except for a slight, distant hum of traffic trying to pollute the airwaves.

It is, dare I say it, a spiritual experience. 

Indigenous people tend to believe nature and spirituality are one and the same.  Civilized societies have viewed this as primitive, naïve, and yet the natives are not the one’s destroying the planet.  They revere it, respect it, are part of.  Not so much the “civilized.” 

So who is it that is really disconnected from reality?

Out here in the mountains, there is much to be heard through stillness.  Nature doesn’t trust the movers and shakers, and when I’m quiet and still it becomes painfully obvious how disconnected most of us are from the planet, and how that leads to so many of our senseless societal problems.  Occasionally a fellow hiker passes by and proves it, the ears of nearly every one of them blocked by headphones, lost in their little worlds.  They’re here for the exercise, not for nature, not to reconnect, and they miss much. 


Some bird I haven’t been formally introduced to yet, hanging out across a green valley on the next mountain over, fills the valley with hysterical laughter, probably at our foolishness.  This is your reality, he says, not the ugliness you all create.  The sun kicks off its covers and lights up the tips of the laughing bird’s mountain with its wakening yawns while dark clouds move in from the south.  One is bright white except for a black belly, loaded with muscular power.  It reaches a mountain peak and mauls it with hoary hands.  Rain showers streak over the distant horizon as I make my descent.  Beyond Laughing Bird Mountain the sound of a drill rises up, like a woodpecker, but it lacks the serenity of beak against wood; instead it’s grating clang signals metal against metal, coming from some distant development, like Rump’s voice, stealing the tranquility.


I return home to more news.  More email controversy, possible corruption, and rump’s grating drill calling our president the founder of ISIS, proud of his new phrase like the 12-year old he is, everything emerging from his mouth coated with ugliness.  If he was any more disconnected from nature he’d fall off the planet.  His brand is supposed to be high-class, the best of the best, but that’s a con.  It’s ego, it’s boastfulness, it’s ostentatiousness, it’s crass and cynical and nasty.  It’s violent.  Everything he does is supposed to be amazing, and yet he can’t even run a convention or a campaign.  Both have reflected the soul of its candidate. 

His supporters lap up the vitriol as entertainment, as reality TV, oblivious to the consequences should he succeed.  They are the bigger problem.  He wouldn’t exist without them.  They laugh alongside him, enjoying his vulgar campaign. 

They defend him.  They say he’s not politically correct and tells it like it is, but they don’t understand the difference between political incorrectness and indecency. 

They need to take a long walk up Laughing Bird Mountain, not to exploit it or use it in any way, but to stop and to listen and to understand, to soak up what nature has to say.


Shadow selfie

9 thoughts on “Laughing Bird Mountain

  1. I feel the same – thank you for writing and posting. Unfortunately i do not work in school anymore…or I would have asked your permission to use this text as well.

      • Well…when the school system changed in 2011, we got more and more national tests. I had the worst combination possible with languages…8 tests/student and I had about 100 students. Some teachers just left and some were exhausted and had to stay at home. Somehow I lost my wonderful feeling for the job there…I did nothing but testing, testing and filing results and figures…
        Being a teacher means helping young people to grow…I felt it did not mean that any longer. So I left last spring. Now I will work only as a help teacher. Feels good.

      • Oh, sorry I overlooked your comment and never responded, and sorry to hear about your experience with teaching. Sounds similar to what I hear teachers complain about here, but glad to hear you are in a better spot now.

  2. “I should be content to look at a mountain for what it is really is, and not as a comment on my life”….some guy said that, and it moved me to a point that I have remembered it, for a long time, but not to a point that I remembered his name, I guess that says something all by itself, I should be content to quote the quote and not comment on how it affects my life, unless I at least go to the trouble of giving credit where credit is due…..
    I can tell you really hate this guy, I assume it is Trump, and I understand,
    I kinda want to also, but it doesn’t feel right, the Hate missile I wish to fling, rekindles feelings I have had probably all my life, I want to hate him because he is a winner, and I am not, and he brags about it and I can’t brag about much, but even if I had something to brag about, I doubt I would anyway, maybe in a passive aggressive sort of way,
    I am jealous I think….
    He wins because he is what a winner is in this world, (the biggest loser of all time is probably Jesus)

    • Your comment made me reread this piece to remember what I’d said. Unfortunately that made me discover it was pretty poorly written. Should have taken my time and given it more thought.

      I don’t know if I’d use the word hate. That’s a strong word I try to avoid, but he’s pretty close. Mostly I don’t give a damn about him, but since he’s trying to become the president of our country, I have to pay attention. I think he represents the worst of us, and if he wins, the country will suffer accordingly. He is, in my mind, the worst possible direction for this country to go in, the exact opposite I’d like to see it go in. I don’t seem him as a winner or anyone to be jealous of. I know he is considered a winner in our culture, but to me he’s a bloated, arrogant, narcissistic adolescent, and he’s conning people into believing he cares about them and will work in their interest. I think we all naturally strive for more, but I can’t respect anyone who lacks the integrity to accomplish success without crushing other people. I write and hope to publish some books, but those books have meaning to me that I hope will have meaning to others. I can’t imagine writing a book, or anything, that’s only purpose was to bring me fame and fortune. I always want to be focused on trying to evolve myself and hopefully, to help a few others do the same.

  3. very very nice post… i think that we all evolve into more-grounded people – some are faster learners than others. for sure, i was once one of those who ran to the rhythm of certain songs plugged into my ears – back when there were inner wounds that had not healed.. but slowly i returned to that holistic mother nature of my childhood, and no music is sweeter than her own.

    around 1998 i disconnected from televisions “it’s a drug!” i might say to those close to me, and then they felt guilty for watching it.. but it was – people stopped interacting or they’d morph from watching something decent to the next program or commercial that was junk.. and everyone in the room was a zombie, just staring at the box…

    around 2000 i disconnected from telephones, and it drives my phone friends nuts..i just smile… people learn to plan ahead….

    the television, especially now w/the election, would be driving me nuts right now!

    • Thanks – That’s great you’ve been able to disconnect from the chaos. I probably tune in more than I should. Thus I need those nature fixes to unwind. Nothing wrong with listening to music while hiking, but I swear, these days, so many seldom ever disconnect from these distractions.

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