No, PSCZ is not a stock. Wait a minute while I check, maybe it is. It’s not a stock. (But PSCZX is a $2B mutual fund.) Around my neighborhood, PSCZ stand for the Puget Sound Convergence Zone. Cliff Mass’ excellent blog describes it better, but I simply consider it a movable micro-climate that draws a band of rain across slices of Puget Sound country. Some places get it more than others. My house seems to get hit a lot. Position makes a difference. Ask most aware Americans of how importance place can be.
My house lives due east of the Olympic Mountains, Washington State’s coastal range. It’s a distinctive range for around here because it isn’t trying to blow up. There aren’t any volcanoes along it. Instead, there are tremendous pressures building beneath it, which, on geological terms, regularly lead to massive subduction quakes and tsunamis. In California the tectonic plates grind past each other. Here, like in Indonesia and Japan, the oceanic plate slides beneath the continental plate, scrunching land at the boundary that someday pops to relieve the pressure. As the plate descends it melts, and if it finds weaknesses then rises back through the crust to form volcanoes. Welcome to Washington’s Cascades.
Let me rephrase that. The mountains to my west are building to an earthquake and a tsunami. A few miles beneath my house, ocean floor is melting into magma. The mountains east of my house are dotted with steaming volcanoes.
Yet what I want to write about is the weather.
Massive forces may surround us, but we are more likely to respond to daily events. Pacific storms hit the Olympics, split, and converge again over Puget Sound. When a split storm reconnects it tends to storm again. Welcome to Seattle and the area’s grey and rainy reputation. The weather is far more noticeable, and is one of the reasons why it is hard to even see the volcanoes. Clouds are more common.
America has a privileged geographical position. It was never easy to get here. Otherwise the first settlers would have come in crowds. Now it looks like it was only 70 people at the start. Geography gave them elbowroom and a lack of visitors for thousands of years. Sounds like the benefits of taking a risk and investing in a good idea early. Even after the European migration, America’s massive moats meant less royal and archaic influence (unless you happened to be a descendant of one of the firsts). A new culture sprung up because it was distant enough to grow untended. Cultural evolution occurred, followed by political revolution. It’s possible that global respect for personal liberties couldn’t have happened any other way.
Then, becoming an American meant commitment to this new place. Now, most Americans are born to that privilege. I’m glad for it. My life has been longer and easier (despite my griping) here than almost any other birthplace could’ve enabled. Proud to be an American? Yep. But in my case I recognize it as luck. (By the way, I am impressed with legal immigrants. Thanks for joining the party.)
Luck is powerful, and like a resource, respect for it can be powerful.
America is in a powerful position, but I no longer think we are the world leader because the world is no longer engaged in a singular struggle as in World War One, World War Two, and the Cold War. I think we all have a common interest in growing into a sustainable and thriving global culture, but people demonstrating in Northern Africa or the Middle East have more immediate fights. Others are fighting to live amidst terrorists. Others are fighting poverty, drought, flood, and many other historical ills.
Around me I see many more individual struggles. I also see proper respect for position and place, either attained through luck or effort.
I know many people who describe themselves by their job. “All I can do is (fill in the blank).” They see all of these other impressive individuals and are humbled. Except for the self-centered ones, the rest are given the joy of seeing everyone else’s talents and skills. Sometimes it is easier to be in awe of someone else’s accomplishments and efforts. (It’s why I enjoy art fairs. So much talent and diversity is heartening.)
I think this happens no matter the vocation or avocation, but the arts are an easy example. The sculptor may be impressed by the results of the painter who is impressed by the writer who is impressed by the musician who is impressed by the sculptor. “But all I can do is play an instrument.” Yep. Well, they probably have more talents than that, but I think the artists that do best step confidently or at least courageously into the role of showing the world what they can do. Hopefully the world appreciates and compensates. (Classic artist mistake = pricing their art too low because, “All I do is . . .” Respect yourself.)
These personal battles and personal abilities are foundations from which we can build toward the longer term and more global goals.
Do I live in a wet land? Yep, though it’s dry today. Things grow well here. Grey days are great for getting things done. Sailors love the winds. Skiers love the snowpack. West of here is rain forest. East of here is nearly rain forest. Go a bit farther and find high and cold. A bit farther east and find more arid. (I love the diversity. That’s why I wrote the books.) Do folks in eastern Washington live in a dry land? Yep. Something else grows well there. Every place, person and time has it’s power and potential. Imagine how much we can get done given all of that.