The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations. -  David Friedman
A peace sign in Ukrainian colors, from a march in Berlin. 

Good morning!

Like a lot of you, my mind is in Ukraine this morning.

As a child in the Reagan era when we played chicken with Russia, I was fully convinced I would die in a ball of nuclear fire. Talking to my fellow Gen X folks, I know not everyone experienced this, but I know lots of us did.

It was in the air, back then – the idea that a global war could happen, and all of this could go away. The TV movie The Day After came on in 1983, and I didn’t sleep right for ages after that – laying in bed at night, afraid we would all die in an instant, or worse, that we wouldn’t.

Fear of the Russians and global war prompted the rise of movies like Red Dawn, which asked how we would respond if we were invaded. Twelve-year-old me was both fascinated and horrified at the prospect. It also skyrocketed the careers of Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone, both of whom made a fortune killing Russians on screen.

But then Glasnost reigned, and the Berlin Wall fell. We entered a time of relative peace with localized skirmishes with upstart dictators until 9/11 happened and we found a new threat of which to be afraid, but in a different, smaller, way. The last week has stirred fears and feelings I didn’t know were still in me, their having lain dormant for 35 years or so.

But that’s the thing – there is always something to fear. There will always be threats, always be bullies, always be shouting despots and raving madmen intent on watching the world burn.

But there will also always be flowers. And sunrises. And birds that sing when we awaken. And smiles on babies. And kittens. As my friend Gareth likes to remind me, there is much more friendship in this world than there is war.

As a species, it seems sometimes that it is in our nature to destroy ourselves. But it is also in our nature to make art, and tell jokes, and point out beauty. In the Ukraine, right now, there is a child drawing pictures, a mom using stuffed animals to tell a story that distracts her children from the horror around them, a couple making love, a man sketching in the dust in his fighting position, and pregnant mothers who dream of a better life for their children.

In the midst of pain is always beauty, and if we will search for it, it can save us, and bring us home.

Here are five things I thought were beautiful

Reader survey

Next month will be 7 years I have been publishing this newsletter. I know, I can’t believe it myself. In light of that, I wanted to ask you some questions about why you subscribe, what you like and what you don’t. There are 9 questions – some are "pick one", some are fill in the blank. The answers are anonymous – I won’t know who says what, so don’t be afraid of telling the truth. If there is something you want me to know is from you, just hit reply to this email. 

The reader survey can be found here

I will leave the survey up for a few weeks (because of question #1), so don’t feel rushed. But I love doing this project and want to make sure I’m doing it in a way that gives you life as well.


If you subscribe to my other newsletter, know that I will now be sending it from this email address as well. It should still be fine, but anytime you change things, it can mess with delivery rates. If for some reason you don't see it in your inbox by lunchtime Friday, please let me know and we will figure it out. 

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

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