When The Sun turned twenty-five in January, I recalled something the great spiritual teacher Krishnamurti once said: “I do yoga every day, but I’ve never made a habit of it.”
What a remarkable statement! How hard it is to do anything day after day without it becoming stale or formulaic. I remember how impassioned I felt when I was a barefoot hippie peddling The Sun on the street; how I welcomed the challenge of holding off creditors, of staying up alone night after night to finish an issue. Putting out The Sun was a political act and an act of devotion — my spiritual path disguised as a desk job.
Twenty-five years later, it’s still my path, but sometimes the disguise fools even me. Now that The Sun is more established — at least, as established as a nonprofit journal can be — I continue to work hard, but others work beside me. The bills are paid on time. If starting the magazine was like falling in love, staying faithful to the work — the real work, the inner work — requires a deeper commitment.
Keeping love alive isn’t easy. Posturing won’t do, nor will feigning passion. If I want The Sun to honor the sacred in everyday life, then every day I need to honor the sacred. If I want The Sun to champion the truth, then I need to be truthful myself.
Ironically, The Sun’s twenty-fifth anniversary coincided with a difficult time for me personally. I’m back in therapy after many years, learning to tend to my feelings with more compassion and less scorn. What a slow learner I am. I berate myself for not being more enlightened — after all, I’m the editor of The Sun! — but my harsh judgments never seem to help.
In twenty-five years, everything has changed and nothing has changed. Now, as then, The Sun addresses our struggle to be fully human. Now, as then, this is my struggle, too. If I want The Sun to celebrate life in all its brokenhearted glory, I can’t pretend to be a big shot who has all the answers; sometimes I don’t even know the right questions.
But I know this: Those who read The Sun and those who write for it are joined in an uncommonly close way. We’re not a family, not quite a community, but we’re something. Because I value this connection, I pay careful attention not only to what goes into each issue but to everything we do at The Sun. I don’t want the magazine to have a split personality, its editorial message divorced from how it does business. Bad habit. That’s why, despite the additional expense, we print the magazine on recycled paper. That’s why, though we receive nearly a thousand submissions a month, we treat each one with respect.
That’s also why we don’t carry advertising. The absence of ads in The Sun makes a statement nearly as important as what we publish. After all, most advertising tries to make us feel dissatisfied with what we have and who we are — hardly the basis for deepening our sense of connection. Advertising may be responsible for keeping the economy rolling, but, in the long run, it’s not a robust market that gives meaning to our lives.
If you think The Sun makes a meaningful contribution to your life, and you’d like to make a meaningful contribution to our work, please consider becoming a Friend Of The Sun this year with a tax-deductible donation.
Without advertising or corporate sponsors, The Sun depends entirely on its readers. We’re pleased that our readership has grown in recent years — there are now more than forty thousand subscribers — but I can’t take this modest success for granted, and I hope you don’t either. The post office has just hiked mailing rates dramatically for nonprofit publications, a move that will cost The Sun many extra thousands of dollars this year. By comparison, rates for mass-market magazines went up only slightly. Skewed priorities? Of course. But the odds are often stacked against those trying to do something a little different in the world.
I’m thankful The Sun has beaten the odds and lasted twenty-five years. I’m thankful for our old house on North Roberson Street with its creaky wooden floors and gorgeous flower garden out front. I’m thankful for the dedicated people who work beside me (I manage a staff of eleven now; twelve, including unmanageable me). And I’m thankful for our readers, without whose generous help we would never have made it this far. You’re the ones who have kept The Sun from being just another little magazine that captured people’s attention for a while, then disappeared.
The Sun is more readable and beautiful than ever, but those first, crudely printed issues I sold on the street were beautiful to me, too, because they spoke the truth. From the beginning, I wanted to put out a magazine that someone like me, during a difficult time, could read without rolling his eyes; a magazine to remind him, as he struggled to keep his heart open, that there was dignity in his struggle, and to keep on.
Editor, The Sun
You may send your check to The Sun, 107 North Roberson Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. Your donation is tax-deductible, and we’ll send you a receipt for your records.