Robert’s Environmental Thoughts on Alaska – 2018
Dear Clients and Friends of Blue Summit,
The seasons change and we change with them. It is always an interplay between us and nature. Without thinking, we harmonize to our surroundings, automatic as dressing lighter when the Spring sets in. This reaction to nature is so instinctual that we can almost forget we live in synergy with a larger force.
As I depart for my 9th season of commercial salmon fishing in Bristol Bay, Alaska, I prepare for a part of my life that is connected to these larger forces. My daily existence will soon be driven by extreme tides, shifting sand bars, and nearly endless daylight. There will be brisk and bitter mornings, and calm, inky nights at anchor. We will feel the saltwater pellets from whipping wind and see the full cycle of passing storms. Images like this, inextricably tied to nature, have become central to my experience and memories as a fisherman. What's more is that when I access these memories, the floodgates open to other collections of time in the elements. Camping on glassy alpine lakes in the Sierras, crossing the sand dunes in Los Osos, and diving for calico bass off the Channel Islands. In concert, all of these memories help form my connection to the natural world.
As the first days of a new season approach, I recall my previous seasons with a warm nostalgia. In them, I find both lived and yet to be, my love for the wilderness. It's incredibly important that we build this connection. An inspiration with nature is a perpetual well, so simple and alluring as to always be engaging. In nature, it is not control or precision we are attracted to, but the unplanned fluidity and harmony that simply exists. No fixing or perfecting is required, it doesn't even come to mind. There's no to-do list and there's not "just" one more thing to do. Outside, we relinquish control, appreciate what befalls us. A rainstorm is a chance to rest our legs and revel in the beautiful layers of passing clouds. If our path becomes blocked by a fallen tree or boulder, we simply find another way and keep walking. In nature, our attitudes change, and we interact with the world more flexibly. We inherit some of the fluidity we witness.
It's wonderful to see a nature connection fostered by many of you in such various ways. Whether it's caring for the native plants in your community spaces, tending your gardens and orchards, harvesting rainwater, watching your neighborhood birds, or teaching others about the ecosystem, it all keeps alive the innate bond we have with our wild surroundings. When we are busy with our own lives, cultivating this connection can take a backseat to other priorities. Please, don't let this happen for long. Just as we feed our beloved pets and care for our houses, be sure to nourish your lives with the simple wonders that only nature can provide. It matters less what you do, but the fact that you are doing it.
The famous adage "The medium is the message," is typically used in the world of mass-media and conveys that the vehicle in which content is passed, not just the content, is the more powerful influence. This holds true for the nature experience as well. By simply increasing our exposure to the outdoor medium, we soak up its essence. We are calmer and more rooted to the elemental world. As our brains plasticize to the everyday medium of the web and connected devices, retaining our neural connection to nature is necessary to our sense of health, perspective and life balance.
Beyond our immediate circles, and sometimes within them, the natural world is repeatedly at risk. Areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have recently been opened for lease bids by oil companies. Utah's Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments have been given the green-light for mineral and gas exploration. My very own Bristol Bay fishery is still grappling with the proposed Pebble Mine that could poison the salmon's natal streams and rivers, and a large swath of the Bristol Bay watershed.
A connection to nature makes us care about these issues. Without it, a natural crisis is a discrete problem, and only a concern if we are directly affected. But with this connection, we can recognize that an offense to one ecosystem is an offense to all. As it has always been, nature is the sole foundation to our economy and our lives. It’s so intrinsic to our existence that we can almost forget that all of our most basic needs derive from it. But as you adapt to the longer, hotter days of summer with something as simple as dressing lighter, let it be a small reminder that we live in immutable synergy with the natural world.
I’d like to express my gratitude for allowing our firm to advise your financial lives while concurrently honoring and protecting the environment via our investment choices. My sincere intent is that you get to live more of the life you want when we’re on your side, investing inline with your values. I hope that you’ll have many opportunities to get out into the wild this summer with your friends and family. And if they can’t go, then go for it alone!
I look forward to seeing and talking with everybody again after I return in August. Until then, have a wonderful summer!
Robert G. Seid
Partner, Wealth Advisor