In this issue: 25,000 words, cave photographs, and a visit to Mars. 
"One person plus one typewriter constitutes a movement." ― Pauli Murray

Christmas, 1975. 

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.

I once heard the writer Rob Bell tell how he had quit his secure job and moved his family from Michigan to California so he could start his own TV show. The contracts had been signed, filming dates were planned… and then nothing happened. He had cleared his calendar for the whole year, put all his publishing plans on hold to make room for this, and nothing happened. The studio pulled the plug.

And there he was in a new house, with mortgage payments due and he had just uprooted his family and cut off all his sources of income and his calendar was blank and he said, “It was scary. It was scary as hell.”

So he borrowed his son’s condenser mic and propped his computer on the dining room table and started The RobCast, the most unproduced podcast ever. It was literally just him talking. No bumper music. No intros or outros.

“I just had to do something. It was a way of making room for something to happen.”

I get that. 

The last 20 months have been exhausting. So many professional plans and goals have been shattered and lost for many of us. The future seems bleak and uncertain. I’ve been in limbo – productive limbo, but limbo nonetheless.

So I did something to make room for something to happen.

25,000 words.

That is, more or less, what I’m writing each month these days. Or a bit more than half of a book the size of The Great Gatsby.

Since November the first, I’ve been blogging every day over at my blog, Humidity and Hope. At first it was my doing a month-long series on gratitude, and then I just sort of kept it up. And after a while, it becomes its own thing, and you just keep going.

I don’t have a plan for this. But it’s been amazing. It’s been generative. I assumed my biggest problem would be ideas, but they tend to come faster and faster. The other problem I assumed I would have is quality, but as I learned when I was preaching each week, volume covers a multitude of sins, and if you write 300 things, the odds are high that some of them will be good, whereas if you write 3 things, all of them have to be good.

So I don’t know where it’s going, but I’m having fun.

Five things I thought were beautiful.

  • I first heard this snippet on creativity from an Ira Glass interview years ago, and have since shared it dozens of times with new would be creatives. And periodically, I listen to it again, because it’s a helpful reminder.
  • Joram Mennes is a cave photographer. Who even knew that was a thing? His Instagram is a regular source of delight.
  • A nighttime 360-degree view of Mars, compiled from ROVER photographs. This is lovely. The stars alone are stunning.
  • I came across this collection of photographs of children from the 40’s and 50’s at play. I love everything about this. It’s a curated section from the (much, much) larger collection of vintage photographs compiled by Steve Given.
  • There is, in the UK, a photo contest called Portrait of Britain, and they released their 100 winners of photos that portray the diversity that is Britain, and OMG – I love this.

Programming notes

This weekend is Christmas and next weekend is New Years, and it’s been a horrible year and I am taking a few weeks off. The next issue of Life Is So Beautiful will be on January 10th. I will still be blogging and will also still put out my Friday newsletter where I post links to the things I published that week, as well as other cool things I liked.

I wish you and your families every happiness, and hope you have a wonderful time of celebration and joy.

* * *

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

View this email in your browser
Copyright © 2021, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.