"I've seen suffering and the Darkness. Yet I have seen beauty thrive in the most fragile of places." -Aisling, Secret of Kells
I pass this lovely little bridge on my walk each day, and always have to resist the urge to read it as an invitation to cross it, to see what is around the bend. 

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.

If there is anything I have learned over the last six years of publishing a newsletter that focuses on beauty, it is that beauty is subjective. Things that resonate with me, based on my experiences, culture, background, and exposure, may not click with someone who didn’t have that exposure, background, culture, or experience.

But I’ve also learned to be challenged, and to look for ways in which my ideas around what is beautiful are being manipulated by someone with an agenda. For example, my neighbor ripped out the ancient Live Oakes and Magnolia trees in his front yard when he bought the house and put down sod and bags of dyed mulch. Gone are the cardinals and grackles that danced in his yard previously, and they have been replaced with spray fertilizer and a leaf blower. But according to most of the magazines at the grocery store checkout, his yard would be considered “beautiful”. Of course, those same magazines are filled with advertising from companies that sell things like sod, mulch, spray fertilizer and leaf blowers.

Or that what society considers beautiful in a woman changes over time, and currently our American standard of beauty is unhealthy and generally unattainable. And the way Social Media promotes that view in ways that harm young girls is heavily documented.

So I shouldn’t have been shocked at the very divided responses when I shared link #1 (below) on social media this week. Some folks thought it was depressing. Others were repulsed that it was talking about crickets. And others, myself included, saw it as hopeful and beautiful.

I don’t know what the answer is, really, other than to keep searching, to keep asking, “Am I being sold something? Does that change the message?”, and to keep, above all, remembering that despite the Darkness, there is also light and beauty, and it can be found, if we just look for it.

Five Beautiful Things

  • The reactions to this link on my social media this week have been interesting. I see hope and beauty in the choice to choose love. I would love to know what you think – feel free to hit reply and let me know.
  • Heather Brooks produces ephemeral art using woodland items, like acorns, wildflowers, and mushrooms. Her Instagram is a riot of color.
  • Our yard is still filled with hummingbirds, so I was captivated when I saw these shots by Christian Spencer, who managed to catch the prismatic effect of the sunlight through a hummingbird’s wings.
  • Photos of raptors (birds of prey) captured in flight. These are nature’s pure killing machines, both dreadful and beautiful.
  • It’s Fat Bear Week! So many jokes, but it’s really an annual event for the public to vote on the fattest brown bear at Katmai National Park, Alaska. To see some of these big boys in action, check out this highlight reel of the livestream from Katmai National Park. It’s so peaceful, I’ve had it on as background all morning.

What I've Been Watching

My wife hipped me to the show Only Murders in the Building, with Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Selena Gomez. Basically, three people live in an apartment building in NYC are all fans of the same true-crime podcast, and they discover what they believe to be a murder in their building, which leads them to start their own true crime podcast.

It is lovely, and well done, and the acting is sublime, and just the right balance of tension and funny and irony. And it’s lovely seeing a show where two old white men costar with an attractive young woman and treat her character as intelligent, where she isn’t treated as a sex object, and where it is assumed that their relationship is one of peers.

And personally, the routine my wife and I have settled into of sitting down Tuesday night after dinner and watching the show at a given time and only watching the episode that dropped that week makes me feel like it is 1987 again, and that the world is a little calmer and saner than it is right now.

When a New Project Makes An Even Newer Project

My new blog, Humidity and Hope, now has it's own newsletter. Every Friday, I send out an email to subscribers with links to that week's new posts, as well as allied links to things that I think will be interesting to readers. It's wider ranging and less thematic than this one. You can check it out and see last week's issue here
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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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