The Hughsletter #84 – glassblowing, sad songs, and the death of a friend

Last week I sat with a friend as she died.

It was a long, tragic story that I will have to write fully about one day, but for now, let’s just say that drugs robbed her of her family, her children, her lover, her hope and finally, her life.

From the time we turned off the ventilators until she passed was 20 hours of singing, praying, crying, silence, remembrance, storytelling and regret. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever been a part of.

This project I call The Hughsletter – it originally started because I believe in the power of beauty to save us, to strengthen us, the hold us up when we are struggling. Nearly two years of doing it – searching each week to find beautiful things to share with you guys – has taught me to always be on the lookout, because beauty is everywhere.

And if we can find it, it can sustain us.

Here are five things I thought were beautiful

In this beautiful essay in Image Journal, Dan Wakefield talks about Kurt Vonnegut’s faith (or lack thereof) and calls him a Christ-loving atheist.

The Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold is called kintsugi. Contemporary artist Rachel Sussman (Instagram) decided to mend cracks in the pavement with gold in her installation art exhibit at the Des Moines Art Center.

In 90 seconds, this glassblower makes a horse. It’s talent and not magic, but watching this guy makes you wonder about the difference.

I am a sucker for drone photography, but this video takes it to another level with time-lapse drone photography of the city of Minsk.

As a storyteller, I believe the difference between a beautiful story and a sad story is all in how you tell the story. Apparently, the same is true for music – I am haunted (in the best way) by this sad rendition of the Sesame Street theme song, but played in a minor key.

What I am reading:

Over the last month since giving up my personal Facebook page, I have been thinking and reading a lot about how the world of social media affects me in particular and the world in general.

In Deep Work, MIT professor Cal Newport argues that social media robs us of time and attention that could be spent doing our best work, and offers some suggestions to change that. In The Shallows, Nicholas Carr argues that the internet is actually changing our brain, and in the most beautifully written book I have read on the subject, Laurence Scott believes that the world of social media is actually a fourth dimension we humans are beginning to evolve to learn how to live in.

One month in, I miss it a great deal. I miss the small interactions, the grace notes throughout the day, the hundreds of bits of everyone’s day they thought worth sharing. But I also know it kills my attitude, my creativity and production.

I am not sure what is going to happen there – I may end up back on Facebook, but in a different way. I am still thinking it over.

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Take care of yourself, and each other.

Hugh Hollowell
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