Last week, I got linked to twice by Kottke and as a result, got a couple of hundred new folks who are reading their first issue of this newsletter, and are trying to decide if this was a good idea.
The premise behind this newsletter is simple: Life is both crushingly beautiful and horrendously ugly. Both things are true. But they are not equally distributed – after all, there is more friendship than war, more sex than illness, more flowers than breakups – and the ugly is disproportionally reported. The ugly is often in your face, while the good has to be hunted for.
I live with a dual diagnosis of ADHD and depression, and I have to watch my mental health the same way a surgeon has to watch her hands, so back in 2015, I started this little newsletter as a way of deliberately hunting out beautiful things.
So I hunted around that first Monday and found 5 things that I thought were beautiful, and I sent an email to a couple dozen people who didn’t hate me, and I said I was going to keep doing it until I got tired, but for at least six weeks.
What makes something beautiful?
This is really subjective, and it’s my newsletter, so ultimately, all definitions are mine. But I look for things that stop me, that give me pause, that make me wonder, that cut through the din of the world as it is and give me a glimpse of the world as it could be. Sometimes it is just something that makes me smile. Sometimes it is ironic, and sometimes it is classically beautiful.
How do you do this? What is your process?
Like a lot of us, I spend too much time on the internet. I find things that resonate and bookmark them, then Monday morning I write the essay and sort through the links for the top 5. Readers account for about 25% of all the links I share, so if you see something you think is beautiful, send it to me by replying to this email.
Who pays for this?
The hosting, the equipment, as well as the email service and the time I spend on this newsletter and other side projects is funded by my patrons. Patrons don’t get anything extra other than the satisfaction of knowing they helped make something beautiful happen. There are no sponsors or ads – only patrons. (Info on how to be a Patron is in the last paragraph).
One last thing – I ultimately do this because I like it, and part of liking it means it fits well into my life. Three or four times a year I will miss a week because I go out of town, or have a critical deadline, or get the flu. I don’t take myself too seriously, and I’ve been told it takes a few weeks to “get” what I’m doing here.
In any event, I’m really glad you are here.
If you want to know more about me, follow me over on Facebook, where I am equal parts snark, rants, and memes.
All your productivity at your desk got you down? Here is a game you play in your browser – It’s like Where’s Waldo, but with emoji. It gets really hard, really fast, and before you know it, the day is gone.
The next 3 links sort of belong together – all about daily life from the turn of the last century. These sort of things fascinate me. We like to think we are so sophisticated and advanced, but they wanted the same things we do – to be happy, to take care of their family, to be safe and well - and their generation would also lose millions of people to a global pandemic, just like us.
Between 1899 and her death in 1962, Lora Webb Nichols would take and collect some 24,000 photos of life in her small Wyoming mining town, creating an extensive record of small town western life in the first half of the 20th century. (via Kottke)
And here is some restored film footage from cities around the world (Manhattan, London, etc) from the 1890’s.
Well, that is it for this week. I hope you have a great week, and that your life is filled with beautiful things. If you see something beautiful this week, I hope you will let me know about it, and if one of my five I shared today struck you in a special way, I hope you will let me know about that, too.
If you want to support this project, you can sign up to be a Patron or buy me a book or throw me some cash or, especially, forward this email to your friends. And if someone did forward this to you, you can get your own subscription here.