Jim Ralston | The Sun Magazine

Jim Ralston


Jim Ralston has entered old age with faith, hope, fear, and trembling — the same mingling of strengths and shortcomings he has always felt. He teaches at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in West Virginia.

— From July 2022
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

My Fight Against Time

The desire to hang on to youth for as long as one could — to see that as greed was new to me, and the idea had deep implications for how I saw myself.

July 2022

Out Of Our Reach

I’m a new face in the therapy group. / My wife’s ultimatum drove us here tonight. / And when my turn in the circle comes / to say what I’m feeling right now, / my tears surprise even me.

May 2019
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

That Terrible Thoreau

As the class winds down, I go over the answers to the quiz: Thoreau moved into his ten-by-fifteen-foot cabin on July 4, Independence Day, 1845. He chose that day to make the point that political independence is just the beginning. We’re not completely free until we also throw off our inner masters: greed, laziness, ignorance.

September 2015

Low Noon

Long after our last slow day together, / say, a campfire, a walk in the woods, / getting lost and not caring

September 2012
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Confessions From A Conversion Van

The owner of the sports bar knows I sleep in the parking lot on weeknights. He doesn’t seem to mind. I’m a curiosity — the homeless professor. He thinks I must be one of a kind, but I’m not so sure. Anyway, I’m not even a professor. More like an adjunct instructor. I’d move closer to work, but I could never afford to live in Martinsburg now that it’s becoming a D.C. bedroom community.

October 2009
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

You’re In Here, Too

It’s morning but still dark out. It’s also raining and cold. I’m walking out of the twenty-four-hour fitness center, on my way to the all-night Waffle House, when a woman hails me from her car. She has just run away from her husband, she says, and needs gas money to get to her mother’s.

July 2006

Don’t Come Crying Home To Me

Dying looks a lot like being born, I think standing over him, my fingers resting gently on his broad back. The contractions come in waves. Each time they are more intense, start earlier, last longer. Only now the body itself is the womb you leave behind.

March 2003
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A View Of The Lake

The lakes of northern Michigan were mysterious to me when I was growing up. There was always at least one undeveloped side and a few swampy coves on each. I saw the trees on the lake’s edge as the border to an endless forest full of bears and big cats.

April 1999

Come Rain Or Come Shine

Twenty-Five Years Of The Sun

This month marks The Sun’s twenty-fifth anniversary. As the deadline for the January issue approached — and passed — we were still debating how to commemorate the occasion in print. We didn’t want to waste space on self-congratulation, but we also didn’t think we should let the moment pass unnoticed. At the eleventh hour, we came up with an idea: we would invite longtime contributors and current and former staff members to send us their thoughts, recollections, and anecdotes about The Sun. Maybe we would get enough to fill a few pages. What we got was enough to fill the entire magazine.

January 1999
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Leaving Walden Pond

Thoreau was not afraid to die for the same reason he was not afraid to leave Walden Pond after two years, two months, and two days. Why did he leave? He said he had several more lives to lead. To be born means to die, but Thoreau was one of those who saw also that to die means to be reborn.

October 1994
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