Shine Anyway

Good morning!

I’m Hugh Hollowell and this is Life is So Beautiful. If you are new here (and about 400 of you are because Jason went on sabbatical and put me on his recommended list), welcome.

It’s always a bit strange trying to explain something you are passionate about to someone you don’t know very well. But this little newsletter is something I’m passionate about. Or rather, the subject is: Beauty, and its ability to save us. Beauty allows me to remain hopeful, in spite of the facts.

I’m glad you’re here.

My own personal body calendar is off-kilter. I know, intellectually, that we are only about 4 weeks away from the halfway point of the year, but inside my head, it’s just now spring. This, despite the fact that I live in Central Mississippi, where it was 93 degrees last week.

I’m pretty sure this is pandemic related (isn’t everything?) but inside my head, it feels like it was the longest winter ever – not climatically, but temperamentally. As someone who lives with both depression and ADHD, long mental winters are the norm. There have been whole periods of my adult life where, despite my subtropical surroundings, it felt like winter in my head: Cold, dark, and grey.

Which is, I think, one reason I love growing flowers so much. They serve as reminders of the true seasons, they mark the passage of true (as opposed to mental) time, and they are bright and cheerful. They don’t care that I am depressed, that the legislature did something stupid, that money is tight this week, and that I am behind on my deadlines. They don’t care about any of that – they are just gonna shine anyway.

The flower up there is a magnolia from the tree in my front yard. The scale is hard to tell from the picture, but it’s about the size of a salad plate in diameter. From where I sit right now, I can see dozens of these blooms, and when you walk out on my front porch, the smell is heavenly.

I didn’t do anything to get them. The tree was here when we bought the house (it was actually a reason we bought the house, but that’s another story). Every flower on that tree is a gift from the person, perhaps now dead, who more than 50 years ago planted this tree which blooms every May and reminds me that, despite what my brain tells me, there is beauty in this world, and it’s worth noticing. And it happens whether I do anything – or even whether I feel like doing anything – or not.

Here are five more things I thought were beautiful

Here is a poem called I wrote this poem 8 months ago and it changed my life by John Rodel that struck me. I’ve been working my way through his book Upon Departure, and I like his stuff. A lot.

A thing I love about the internet is all the small niches it makes possible. For example, Christian Vieller photographs dogs that just caught a dog biscuit someone threw them. Random as hell, I know, but amazing nonetheless.

Classical European style painted portraits but using anthropomorphic animals. More of this, please.

I recently read that we have cataloged 15% of the life on this planet. This means it shouldn’t shock me that there are species of jellyfish we didn’t know existed, but here we are.

The original model sheets for Looney Tunes characters. These are the canonical versions of how they should be drawn, and to this Gen X’r, it’s like a photo album of old friends.

Worth Reading

Anne Helen Peterson talks about the complicated reasons many of us are still on Facebook, even when it feels icky. Much of my entire publishing strategy is about eliminating Facebook from my workflow.

Kevin Kelly shares 103 pieces of unsolicited advice on his birthday.


Patrons should expect an important email later this week.

I’m super grateful for y’all and hope to see you back here next week. I hope your week is wonderful, and if you have links you want me to see, please send them my way!

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