The good-looking one, the one in need, the one that almost was
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I recently tried to figure out how many hours our editorial staff devotes to a single issue of The Sun — sifting through the hundreds of submissions that arrive here each month, editing and proofreading the material we’ve selected, designing the pages. It’s harder to calculate how much time goes into the writing itself, since it doesn’t even happen at the office but on crowded desks and messy kitchen tables and quiet back porches all around the country.
A thousand hours, I figured. A thousand hours of steady, intent work to create an issue it takes you a few hours to read.
If you’re moved by what you read, if you’re inspired to think in a new way, the effort is worth it. I want The Sun to penetrate and illuminate the dark corners of our lives, reminding us that there’s nothing unusual, nothing un-American, about loss and heartache; that love can arrive in the middle of our greatest disappointment; that, as meditation teacher Jack Kornfield puts it, “you can discover the wisdom of a Buddha or the heart of Jesus if only you could accept what is actually before you, difficult though it may be.”
Because I don’t want The Sun to be self-consciously spiritual, the reminder is often subtle. Better a poem that surprises you, like a mirror where you expected a window. Better a story that calls to you with its gypsy heart. Because The Sun is meant to challenge as well as comfort, we don’t offer formulas to protect against life’s uncertainties. Nor are there pinups of cars or stereos or gurus, seductively arranged to convince us that what we need is really out there. Instead, The Sun tries to nudge us back to where we always are: here, now. To the kitchen that needs to be cleaned. To the argument that needs to be forgiven. To our struggle for one clear moment of awareness.
This holiday season, consider giving a gift subscription of The Sun. If you order a one-year subscription at the regular price, you may order additional one-year subscriptions at half price. There’s no limit on the number of half-price subscriptions you may give.
If you’d like to give one of our anthologies — A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky: The Best of The Sun, Sunbeams: A Book of Quotations, or Four in the Morning: Essays by Sy Safransky — we’ll make sure the books arrive in time.
We’ll send a card announcing your gift. And we’ll bill you after the holidays, if you wish.
Editor, The Sun
TO ORDER: Please send check or credit-card information to The Sun, 107 North Roberson Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. The first subscription is $32. Additional subscriptions are $16 each. For book prices, see back cover. We guarantee delivery of books before December 25 on orders received before December 12. We’re sorry, but you can’t renew your own subscription as part of this offer.
You say in your “Holiday Offer” that you don’t want The Sun to be self-consciously spiritual. I think you have succeeded. When I think of spiritual, I think of something appealing to the positive aspects of the soul; if not something inspiring, then at least something to provoke analytical thought or healthy introspection. To me, your ideals and goals seem to have become muddled in grousing and complaining. Even a Zen master might contemplate his shit, but he’s unlikely to show it to everyone.
Many of your articles are depressing and dispirited. Your writers dwell on their injuries and psychic scars, the sorrows and disappointments of their lives. This may be some people’s way of getting over and getting on, but it seems too often they are lingering on those unresolved slights, injuries, and painful times. Something tells me that aspiring to self-determination and reason is preferable to continual brooding.
I don’t need a sugar-coated brand of realism to provide me with happiness. But your editorial content, from letters, to articles, to Sunbeam quotes, leaves something to be desired in maturity and taste and artistic appreciation for what is “spiritual.” Just because you choose to be scatological or depressing doesn’t make you provocative.