Keep Going

Good morning!

I’m Hugh Hollowell, and this is another issue of Life Is So Beautiful, sent from my office in Jackson, MS, where I’m trying to type while ignoring the cat climbing on my keyboard.

I’ve been described as a hopeful cynic, and with some justification. I think, given what we know and observe, that cynicism is the only realism. But I also remain captivated by hope – a prisoner of hope, really, convinced that to live as if the future is still open is the only way to live.

This is Easter Monday – yesterday was the largest festival in the Christian year (In terms of religion, that is – Christmas has a much larger cultural impact, but that’s another story) and many offices are closed today and so, the readership will be light today, but ever since learning that many of you read this letter not on the day on which I send it but when you get around to it, I try harder to make sure I hit send even on days like this.

Yesterday I was back home for Easter, where my family holds an annual potluck meal, and more than 100 folks showed up. There were babies and children and egg hunts and Easter dresses and family photos under the oak tree.

My cousin who puts this together every year lost her mother, Betty, unexpectedly this last year, and this event had always been Betty’s favorite thing. When we gathered last Easter, after having not in 2020 for obvious reasons, Betty was positively aglow, running from person to person and, after telling them she had been vaccinated, requesting a hug. The year before that my Dad died. This potluck had been his favorite thing, too. He was always the man with the camera, taking pictures galore, and documenting them for future generations.

So yesterday, my cousin and I were talking about all the death and loss, and while we were doing that, watched the children play and the cousins all talk and the babies have a fuss made over them, and she said, “I miss them. But I just have to think they would want us to keep going.”

On the three hour drive home, I was caught in a thunderstorm, and we were tossed about on the freeway, and after 2 and a half hours of this, the sun came out and we saw a huge double rainbow, and I was, again, encouraged to keep going.

I think that’s it. That’s the whole thing, really. Tragedies happen. People we love leave us. The world seems bleak and unloving. And in the midst of it all, we find a way to keep going.

Here are five things I thought were beautiful

100,000 stars is a draggable, zoomable simulation of our solar system. I can’t even imagine the work it took to make this. Do this on as big a screen as you have access to.

An article from the prolific and ever-hopeful Rebecca Solnit: 10 Ways to Confront the Climate Crisis Without Losing Hope.

With apologies to Emily Dickenson, hope is not a bird, but a sewer rat.

Zack King does… video magic. I don’t really have better language for it.

“Be like children. Don’t be afraid to ask (yourself and others) what is good and what is bad. Don’t be afraid to say that the king is naked. Do not be afraid to scream, burst into tears. Repeat (to yourself and others): 2+2=4. Black is black. White is white. I am a man, I am strong and brave. Strong and brave. Strong and brave.” – from the sentencing statement of Alla Gutnikova, one of four Russians charged with encouraging people to protest the Kremlin. The whole thing is lovely, literate, brave, and hopeful. (This link to the whole statement is in Russian, but most browsers will translate it.)

Thank You!

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