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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Compassionate Heart

At times, helping happens simply in the way of things. It’s not something we really think about, merely the instinctive response of an open heart. Caring is a reflex. Someone slips, your arm goes out. A car is in a ditch, you join the others and push. A colleague at work has the blues, you let her know you care. It all seems natural and appropriate. You live, you help.

Doorways

November 17. Monday. The car didn’t start — again. We rode the bus. Manuel, in hat, was driving. He picked us up, leaving the students who were waiting to wait seven more minutes. I bet they hated me. A young woman offered me a seat. I suggested she hold G. instead, and I, her books. So we traded. Halfway up Columbia Street, I asked Manuel if it was possible to turn off the heat. He did. When we got out, I wished him a good day. He said he got off work in five minutes. Nice way to start the day.

Acorns

I was about to run out of meter time when an elderly gentleman approached, moving about as fast as a snail with a broken leg. He carried two large bags full of food and sundry housekeeping paraphernalia. Red-faced and puffing. I offered him a hand.

Fiction

Emergency

It is, in a phrase aptly supplied by a nurse, like five hundred hells. Apparently the whole town has converged upon the hospital, all migrating to the Emergency Rooms. We are overrun with crying children, anxious parents, impatient spouses, and hostile adults. Most of their complaints are minor: sore throats, sprained ankles, belly pain for three months. A few are critical, some urgent. The rest can be seen when the cows come home or after.

Lord Of The Wind

The Lord of the Wind was born unconscious of himself, during a storm that shook his egg from its nest and flung it from the tallest tree on the highest cliff downwind to the valley floor. It landed with a splash in the stream below, and was carried to a sandy spot on a small finger of land that pressed itself into the water. There, when the storm was at its height, with cracking thunder, amid streaks of pale lightning, the egg broke open. The soaked, scared occupant blinked and blinked again, looking for shelter. The lightning hurt his eyes and the thunder drove him up an embankment, where he tumbled into a sweet-smelling nest of grass under an overhanging protective bush. He at once fell to sleep.

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.

Readers Write

Going To Sleep

It is curious what language reveals of our unspoken beliefs. If someone isn’t paying attention we say, “Wake up!” If a person bores us we say, “He puts me to sleep.” If our pet suffers an incurable disease, we don’t kill him; we have him “put to sleep.” Sleep is metaphorically equivalent to darkness and death, just as death is metaphorically equivalent to termination and nothingness. Conversely we equate wakefulness with life, light, and lucidity (“wide awake”). We think of sleep as down (“fall asleep”) and awake as up (“wake up”). We prize the brightness of the waking state and dread the dimness of the sleeping one, not literally perhaps (though some people do fear sleep), but metaphorically. Just as enlightenment represents a spiritual achievement, “waking up” represents an intellectual one. Who among us hopes for endarkenment? Who wishes to become more asleep?

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

The only real progress lies in learning to be wrong all alone.

Albert Camus

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