Beautiful Banality

Good morning, friends.

It’s the day after the spring transition to Daylight Saving Time, and so I feel a bit out of sorts as all my markers are a bit off. I’m running behind, because while my brain says it’s only 8AM, my clock (and other appointments) tells me it’s actually 9AM, and I need to hurry up and hit send on this thing. It’s like wearing someone else’s clothes, this new time.

I know I’m in the minority – at least if you go by my Facebook timeline – but I always welcome this spring ritual. I am an outdoors person, and in the wintertime, when it’s dark by the time I finish eating supper, there is nothing to be done. You can’t go for a walk, you can’t rake your leaves, you can’t putter in the garden. If you are outside in the wintertime, you are stealing time from something else. Which is particularly frustrating if you live in the Deep South, where our winters are generally mild.

But for the next six months or so, light will stream in the windows at supper time, and I can go for a walk after supper, and perhaps now the leaves will get raked and the shed painted and all the small inconveniences that pile up in the darkness of winter will now get resolved. And I can sit on my deck and listen to the birds as they prepare for sleep, and watch the yard put itself to bed.

Last night Renee and I went for a nice drive after supper – something we haven’t done in ages, just a drive, with nowhere to go, as if the price of gas had not doubled in recent weeks. We drove over the spillway of the reservoir north of town here, just before sunset, and watched the reflection of the sun on the still water.

A thing I’m trying to pay attention to these days is the banality of what makes for a good life. For every red-letter day in your life – the birth of a child, a wedding, a birthday party, a feast – there are thousands of sunsets, of greetings from neighbors, of robins playing in the grass, of the smell of fresh-cut lawn, the sound of children at play in the neighborhood school.

The other day, I was interviewed for a podcast (details when it’s up) and I mentioned, in passing, that my favorite meal I’ve ever had wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had. I think that’s sort of what I’m getting at here. The longer I live, the more the banal, the mundane, the ritualistic captivates and excites me.

I don’t want a life where three amazing things happened – I want a life where thousands of good things did.

Here are five beautiful things

  1. The ocean fascinates me. It covers 70% of the planet, and yet so much of it is unknown to us as a species, and much less is known to us commoners who don’t study it. Here is about 10 minutes of spectacular video of sea creatures, taken from remote vehicles in the waters of Monterey Bay, California.
  2. In the early 2000s, when lots of us were beginning to explore blogging and virtual relationships, a common critique was that our writing was just narcissism. But it wasn’t and isn’t – it’s just a cry to be known. I loved this poem I came across, from a Tumblr User no longer active:  LIVETWEETING THE APOCALYPSE
  3. And speaking of poetry – a friend shared this lovely poem by the incomparable humanitarian poet Naomi Shihab Nye.
  4. Davide Martello travels around the world to sites of conflict and pain to play the piano. Here he is at the Ukraine/Poland border, greeting refugees. It amazes me at times – we live in a world that has, at the exact same time, both war and pianos.
  5. The winners of the 2022 World Photography Awards. I’m a sucker for these contests. There is so much talent in the world. So much.

Two quick things

The astute among you may have caught on that link #2 up there is to a site I own. Yes, I have yet another site now, an old-school blog I call Leftovers. It’s where I put things that most of us put on social sites these days, but we used to put on blogs (because I’m wary of social sites these days). I won’t really be promoting it at all, but there is an email subscribe option in the sidebar there if you want to get notified when I update it. It will also auto-update to my Twitter and Facebook pages, and there is an RSS feed, because I remember my roots.

The reader survey is still going and will be up until Friday at 5 PM Central Time.  If you haven’t responded yet, I would love your input. As you might tell, I’m already making some changes based on input. I will be writing up my thoughts on the results this weekend and will share them with you next Monday.

Thank you so much for all the ways you support this project – by forwarding this letter to your friends, by talking it up on social media, by being a Patron, buying me a book or a cup of coffee, I am grateful for your support and all the ways you make this project possible. This list grows slowly, by one or two names most weeks, because someone like you forwards it to somebody else, who subscribes. And if someone did forward this to you, you can get your own subscription here.Take care of yourself. And each other. 

Hugh Hollowell Jr