The Hughsletter #97 – Running to, or running from?

Good Morning!

I have suffered from depression most of my life – I talked some about that here. It comes and goes in fits, never far away and always just under the surface, but there are times when it washes over me and I feel surrounded by it.

The last few months have been like that. It’s been really, really dark over here. But things are getting better.

I just wanted to let you know why I probably haven’t replied to your emails or been great about reaching out the last 10 weeks or so. I also wanted to thank the folks who have reached out, who moved toward me rather than away.

When I was in the Marines, they taught us that when you are ambushed, your instinct is to run away from the fight. But if you do that, you will die. Guaranteed. Instead, you have the highest chance of survival if you charge your attackers.

When bad things happen to you, I notice that most people run away from you, too. As if it’s catching. And then when the drama dies down, people begin to come out of the woodwork, telling you they had your back the whole time.

But there are other people who charge in there with you, the ones who, when the crap hits the fan, run toward you, in order to be with you and near you. For those people, I have been incredibly grateful.

Here are five things I thought were beautiful:

Photographer Thibaud Poirier traveled across Europe, taking pictures of its amazing libraries. If there is such a thing as heaven, I picture it looking something like this.

Dina Brodsky began her miniature bird painting project as a way to explore the birds near her house. This hits several of my buttons – local nature, miniatures, birds. I love it all. The collection is titled Bird by Bird, a reference to this poem by Pablo Neruda, although my first thought was Ann Lamott.

I came across the last interview Johnny Cash gave, and with the hindsight of now knowing it will be his last, it is haunting. That led to a rabbit hole of my watching Johnny Cash videos for hours, including his final performance, at the Carter Family Fold in Virginia. They had to carry him on stage, but still he held the audience captive. I got shivers when he started with, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash”.

A bunch of people sent me this recording of Nina Simone playing Love Me or Leave Me, with a fugue hidden in the middle of it. I love her so much – she was a genius. (My favorite collection of her work is this album.)

I think every year, we should be required to read this essay – The Busy Trap – until we get it right.


I intend to stop by The Wild Goose Festival in the mountains of North Carolina week after next. If you are there, please say hi if you see me.

Take care of yourself, and each other.

Hugh Hollowell
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