#50 | Ask for what you need

“Bring what you have, and ask for what you need.” – Gareth Higgins

When in doubt, build something. The boy and I made a chicken coop for the backyard.

Good morning!

I am Hugh Hollowell, and this is Life is So Beautiful, a newsletter about finding the beautiful when it’s hard to – and maybe especially when it’s hard to.

I grew up in a house with a father who revered quotes. You know, short, pithy sayings that usually convey a point of view or moral argument. Like, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Benjamin Franklin said that, and come to think of it, Franklin figured large in the quote library that lives inside my dad’s head.

Because of this, I guess it is natural that I too love quotable snippets, although I tend to collect them from less famous people. Like my friend David LaMotte, who once told me that “You are changing the world, whether you want to or not.” Or my buddy Brian Ammons, who opens worship services with the brilliant (and radical) phrase, “You are all welcome here. And all of you is welcome here.” Or, from his husband Gareth Higgins, who organizes gatherings and says that you should “Bring what you have, and ask for what you need.”

I recently came across an interview with Fiona Apple, who is promoting her new album, and in it, she says that her decision to release a new album now doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, but that this is what she knows how to do. And that line – “This is what I know how to do” gives language to what has been going through my head the last 40 days or so we have been in quasi-isolation.

Because right now, the world is a hot freaking mess, and all of us are trying to find our way in it. And maybe pumping out two newsletters (1, 2) and starting a podcast are not the most obvious ways to help the rest of the world in the midst of this pandemic, but it is what I know how to do; it is what I can bring to the table, and then it is up to me to ask for what I need for the rest of it.

 Five Beautiful Things

  • A 2-hour tour of Switzerland, as seen from the cab of a train. Imagine this being the scenery you see everyday? I want to have a party now, where I can put this on the TV to play in the background.
  • This will only appeal to a small subset of you folks (or maybe not, since we are all cooking more), but one of the happiest points of my day right now is when I log onto Facebook and see that Jacques Pepin has posted another short how-to video – something he has been doing quite a lot while in isolation.
  • Over on Instagram, there are virtual tours of Frank Lloyd Wright houses.
  • Paul Graham is a venture capitalist. He and I don’t have a lot in common. But this essay about the brevity of life, something he really only discovered after becoming a parent, really punched me in the gut. It feels particularly pertinent right now, as we fear that so many people we love will die.
  • Ariel views of Hong Kong’s fountains. These are so lovely.

And if you get a sec, check out my new podcast, and I would appreciate it if you left a review on Apple Podcasts. Reviews really do help.