But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.
- Robert Frost, from "Two Tramps in Mud Time"
Doubtless, God could have made a flower that smelled better than a magnolia. And doubtless, God did not. 

Note: Normally, this email hits your inbox on Monday. But yesterday I was swamped with work, so it didn’t go out. And normally, I am OK with 2-3 skips a year. But next week I am on vacation on Monday, visiting family, so I won’t be publishing then, either. So I decided to go ahead and publish today – the first time in more than six years I have done that. Enjoy! – HH

Good morning!

I am Hugh Hollowell, and this is Life is So Beautiful, a newsletter about finding the beautiful when it's hard to - and maybe especially when it's hard to.

Saturday was my birthday. Despite the odds, I made it to 49. Which seems unreal – when I was a boy, people who were 50 seemed old, and now that is just next year for me.

I’m not big on celebrating my birthday – maybe 4-5 times in my adult life I have had a big party, or a cookout, or something, and while that’s fun, my introvert self gets exhausted from doing it, and recovery takes forever. My preference is a quiet day, with maybe a few people, doing things that matter to me.

So Saturday I went for a long walk, early in the morning. The magnolia tree in my front yard was full of blooms, as was the neighbor’s gardenia hedge, which smelled amazing as I walked by. Right now, that hedge is the best part of my daily 2 and a half mile walk.

Then a friend’s son came over, and we worked on the shed I am building that will be my woodworking shop. After he left, a shower and then Renee and I went to a neighborhood bistro and ate cheesecake, shopped in a local independent bookshop, and then made our way to the suburbs where I ate my first steak in a restaurant in more than a year (Thank you, vaccines!). It was a quiet, glorious, day.

A popular bit of pop wisdom is to live every day like it was going to be your last – which is, of course, ridiculous. If I knew today was my last day, I would pay no bills, do no paid work, and instead try to have one last experience with people I love. But Saturday was the sort of day I would love to have more of, and as close to a perfect day as I’ve had in ages.

If you are in the gift-giving mood, here is a thing I am working on in my professional life we are trying to raise money for – a Peace and Justice Center here in Jackson, MS, where we will do experiential learning and work for systemic change in four areas: Racial Equity, Food Security, Educational Success, and Health and Wellness. If you want to do something nice for me for my birthday, please click through here to learn more and make a donation of any amount.

Five Beautiful Things

  • This is amazing – a virtual gallery with all 430 painting Bob Ross painted on his PBS show.
  • Here is a collection of Instagram shots, along with the setup it took to make them. I love things like this, because it reminds me that so much of what I see online is curated for me, and isn’t reflective of reality at all.
  • Pools, shot from above. I find this oddly soothing, and another reminder of the beauty that surrounds us if we change perspective.
  • Here is an article I really appreciated about how the end(?) of the pandemic is a chance to start over, a chance to build the life we want.
  • This street artist fills potholes and sidewalk cracks with tile mosaics. I especially appreciate the before and after shots.


I will be out of town next week on vacation, so the next issue will be on the 21st!

* * *

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.

Take care of yourself. And each other. 

Hugh Hollowell Jr

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