In this issue: 30 days of gratitude, our changing planet, 3D street art, plus more.
I live by two words: tenacity and gratitude. - Henry Winkler
The view off Santa Monica Pier.

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.

Like a lot of you, the time change this weekend has me all akimbo. My internal clock is so confused and I didn’t get much sleep last night, so today will be brief. I feel like I’m writing in molasses.

I once heard my man crush Jacques Pepin talk once in an interview about how, as an immigrant from France, his favorite American contribution was Thanksgiving. It has no ideology, no religion, no belief system. It is merely about connection, food, and thankfulness.

A few years ago, I stood on Santa Monica pier, surrounded by a crowd, and looked over Santa Monica beach, with its acres of white sand, at the surf crashing on the rocks and was swept away at its beauty. And all I could think of at that exact moment was how my only possible response to this beauty is gratitude. I was just… thankful for having had the opportunity to see it, to be there, to live this unlikely life that had made it all possible.

A popular meme on Facebook over recent years has been “30 Days of Thankfulness”, where one is encouraged to list each day a thing for which they are thankful. Because I’m a grown ass man who does what I want, I am writing a short essay instead, and as I am trying to disentangle myself from Facebook and its nefarious schemes, I am primarily writing each essay on my new blog . (It is, however, shared and syndicated at all the usual places – you can learn more here).

Five Beautiful Things

  • A friend shared this poem from on Clarissa Pinkola Estes (author of Women Who Run With the Wolves) on Facebook, and I keep coming back to it.
  • I love the warmth and depth in the colors in this collection of 1950’s color photography by Saul Leiter.
  • The 3D street art of Leon Keer is grabbing me. I love all of this, and while I can’t pronounce the words trompe l'oeil, I love the effect.
  • One thing leads to another, and while looking into Leon Keer (see above), I found this collection of “nighttime rituals” from various artists. I always feel like these sort of things are aspirational (I mean, does he *really* spray perfume on his bed every night?) but I have my own, albeit more banal, rituals firmly in place, so I pay attention anyway.
  • Photographer Olaf Otto Becker is documenting the way climate change is changing the earth, with projects related to photographing the effects of deforestation and icebergs melting. Horrific subject matter, but outstanding photography.


My other newsletter is chugging along, and this is your reminder it exists. It comes out every Friday, and links to everything I’ve written on my blog that week, as well as links to other things I find cool or interesting. There is no crossover, as this newsletter is just related to my search for beauty, whereas that one is more personal and wider-ranging.

For Patrons

There will be two Patron Zoom meetups this month- one Thursday morning at 10AM Central, and one Sunday night at 8PM Central, I'm doing the two times to try to make it easier to accommodate people's time zones - watch your email for more info. 

* * *

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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