A fifth-grade bully, a blossoming romance, a late-night crash
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Jeremy Taylor, in Karen Karvonen’s interview with him [“Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream,” March 2006], says, “Virtually all other strategies for exploring dreams in groups [besides mine] have a leader, so the structure is authoritarian and top down.”
I know of at least one other leaderless approach. Montague Ullman has a group process for exploring dreams in which there is continuing interaction between the dreamer and the group, and the dreamer is in charge at all times. In Appreciating Dreams: A Group Approach Ullman writes, “Group dreamwork can and does create the conditions for a kind of natural healing process to take place. It is as if the impulse to self-healing is always alive in us, awaiting only a favorable social climate to become manifest.”
In her essay “Adrift” [March 2006], Suzanne Murray eloquently expressed the numbness, isolation, and grief I felt after my own father’s death. Amidst the compassionate outpouring of sympathy from close friends and family, I sensed a subtle but increasing pressure to “get over it.” Her essay not only confirms the fact that each person’s grief is unique, but also speaks to how the natural world has a power to heal that goes beyond societal comforts and becomes almost miraculous.
I’m often at odds with The Sun politically, but it’s the quality of the writing that matters. Jean Braithwaite’s essay “Three Kims” [March 2006] was so good that I found myself reading it again, as if hoping to find in her deceptively simple style some sort of magic key. Like all good writers, she’s a kind of Rumpelstiltskin, spinning pure gold out of the straw of everyday life.
Jean Braithwaite’s “Three Kims” reminded me of my own struggle with perfectionism. Convinced that I was being “realistic,” I habitually criticized myself and others, and viewed the world as random, meaningless, and punctuated by cruelty. Suffice it to say, it was a lonely existence.
Luckily the following books helped change my outlook: The Joy of Imperfection by Enid Howarth and Jan Tras, Too Perfect by Allan E. Mallinger and Jeannette DeWyze, and The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron. Now I do my best to be compassionate toward myself and others, and I remind myself every day that existence is wonderful.
In “Three Kims” Jean Braithwaite refuses to encourage her partner, Helen, to write because of the odds against success. Couldn’t she have warned Helen of the difficulty of getting published, yet encouraged her anyway? At the age of sixty-four I know my odds against getting published in a national publication grow longer each day, but I don’t regret for a minute the time and effort I have put into writing.
Braithwaite also talks of Sharon, the English-department secretary, and wonders whether her position is “as good as she can ever do.” Perhaps it is as good as she needs to do because of everything else in her life. Are there no values beyond the trappings of success? Braithwaite’s hard-boiled rationalism comes dangerously close to small-mindedness.
In his essay “The Flood” [February 2006] Sparrow tells an anti-Semitic joke that suggests that Jews are arsonists who have no qualms about defrauding insurance companies. Granted, he is only repeating a joke that his father once told, and even then it is only a joke. But the telling of this joke adds absolutely nothing to the content of the essay and is clearly a jab at a religion that Sparrow holds in disdain.
There is no room in The Sun for intolerance, religious or otherwise. Free speech should include a wide latitude of thought, but intolerant viewpoints do not deserve a voice.
I was shocked to find an anti-Semitic joke in Sparrow’s “The Flood.” It is precisely this kind of “humor” that perpetuates stereotypes of Jewish people as being dishonest and devious. I would have thought a magazine that promotes itself as being progressive and all-inclusive would have edited such a joke out of the essay.
While Sparrow managed in “The Flood” to cart away several bags of things from the rising waters that threatened his home, I was horrified that he abandoned his rabbit, a sentient being incapable of swimming, to a potentially terrifying death.
I must say that I never expected, in my long life, to be attacked as an anti-Semite by one person named Jesús and another named Lustgarten. My only (feeble) defense is: I’m Jewish.
As for Name Withheld, I agree with her (or him). It was morally wrong to abandon Bananacake, our rabbit.
John Malkin’s interview with Kathy Kelly [“And a Time for Peace,” February 2006] was beautiful in its own way, yet she seemed to be in denial about the threat of fundamentalist Islam. As a woman, a Catholic, and a humanitarian, I felt she could have granted some validity to efforts to protect our free society. We are off base in many ways, but I’d rather be a woman here any day.
The anti-Semitism of Islamic terrorists scares me, too. As a Catholic, I want to protect the Israelis. They don’t deserve all the threats to their lives. Will these terrorists sit down and have a dialogue with us? Did Hitler?
John Malkin’s interview with the courageous Kathy Kelly was riveting. Her activism is beyond brave and bold. I am repeatedly appalled at the widespread apathy regarding our government’s preemptive invasion of Iraq and the ongoing misery that continues on both sides. Kelly’s commitment to “celebrating that which we have in common, rather than what separates us” is a clear path to open dialogue and peace. She tells us not to be afraid, and that “forgiveness is crucial.”
When will the vast majority of our citizens wake up to the reality of what this war is costing us: the body counts on both sides, the out-of-control deficit spending, and the damage to our country’s reputation?
I was deeply touched by Jamy Bond’s essay “What Feels Like Destiny” [February 2006]. In 2002 I lost my only sister to suicide. She had struggled for years to become a screenwriter in the cutthroat Los Angeles market. As a forty-four-year-old woman, and an ethnic minority, she had no advantages. Just before she took her life, she’d been passed up for a job in favor of a twenty-something blond intern with half the experience.
After my sister’s death, I went through two years of yo-yo dieting and binge drinking before finding a better way to deal with my emotions: writing, my sister’s former occupation. I’m not a good writer, but putting words down on paper has allowed me to express my feelings in a less self-destructive way.
Writing in response to Rob Brezsny’s “Secrets of Pronoia” [November 2005], Peter Nowell describes astrology as “inherently limiting and superstitious, a giving away of one’s personal power” [Correspondence, February 2006]. As an astrologer I feel compelled to correct this misperception.
Carl Jung said that what is not made conscious shows up in our lives as fate. The role of astrology, when it is employed as a healing art rather than as banal fortune-telling, is to illuminate unconscious patterns and behaviors, thereby empowering people to make better choices and take responsibility for the course of their lives. Jung — like many of the West’s great thinkers before him, including Plato, Copernicus, Galileo and Nietzsche — considered astrology an invaluable tool.
Mass-media horoscope columns, which correspond to Nowell’s limited concept of astrology, represent a bastardization of an art and science that has been practiced worldwide since the beginning of human history. Like Nowell, I find that Rob Brezney’s is the only horoscope column that I read. His writing offers a high form of astrological divination and is among the best in the field and not, as Nowell suggests, a radical departure from astrology’s essence.
I have been reading The Sun for years, and today I just figured out why.
I was brought up by parents who didn’t discuss their emotions with their children. I have never seen them argue nor show any sign of fear, regret, jealousy, or hate. They are always “on task,” organized, and honest to a fault. They chat charmingly with complete strangers, confident that everyone will be friendly toward them. If they have doubts, they certainly don’t talk about them.
They sound like pretty good parents, don’t they? But their magic formula never seemed to work for me. I entered adulthood with no skills with which to examine my inner life, and I was a terrible judge of character. I floundered around, getting into drugs and dead-end relationships, and never learned how to read motives and emotions, in myself or others. I am turning forty in a couple of days, and I am still learning the basics of how to be a person.
I read each issue of The Sun from cover to cover and often cry. It is a relief to learn about other people’s lives: regretful, dishonest, self-critical, illogical, disorganized, and more amazing than anything I could have imagined. The essays and stories are like signs left behind by other travelers on their own journeys. It is nice to know that I am not alone on the path.