Issue 436 | The Sun Magazine

April 2012

Readers Write

The Best Feeling In The World

4 AM under the big top, a prison cat, the highest pleasure

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

excerpted from
Grist For The Mill

You are the Ancient One. Everything that ever was, is, or will be is part of the dance of your being. You are all of the universe, and so you have Infinite Wisdom; you appreciate all of the feelings of the universe, so you have Infinite Compassion.

By Ram Dass With Stephen Levine


That which God said to the rose, and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty, He said to my heart, and made it a hundred times more beautiful.


The Sun Interview

The Butterfly Effect

Julia Butterfly Hill On Activism, Tax Resistance, And What She Learned From A Thousand-Year-Old Redwood

Yet I remind people that what’s referred to as a single tree-sitting action was, for me, 738 separate days: twenty-four hours in a day; sixty minutes in an hour; sixty seconds in a minute. It was the moment-by-moment process that transformed me.

By Leslee Goodman
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Communion Of Strangers

Books lift us out of the smallness of the present and into history, out of the smallness of ourselves and into humanity. Most readers favor modern books, equating old with irrelevant. But just as a phrase in one’s native language jumps from a page of foreign text one is struggling to translate, familiar passions jump from the strange depictions of earlier times.

By Brian Jay Stanley
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


A few weeks ago they were still in the house they’d always lived in, but their dad and I were never both home at once; we took turns living there and caring for them. Maybe, we thought, the kids wouldn’t notice the change. But now there’s no disguising it.

By Nancy Coleman
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Lonely Bull

In sixth grade I played football in rural Ash Creek, Arizona. My family had just moved there from a suburb of Phoenix, and my only prior experience with football had been when my dad would toss one around with my two younger brothers and me, drilling me in the chest with hard passes.

By Jerry D. Mathes II
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Reading The Water

For the last seven years, my father and I have kayaked a thirty-six-mile portion of Oregon’s Rogue River each August. We run the river in an inflatable kayak, him reading the water and me providing the manpower to paddle the boat through world-class rapids.

By Michael Copperman
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


My ninety-two-year-old grandmother died on August 1, 2009, after a long decline. I wasn’t there during her last moment. Nobody was. The nursing home said she died at 1:45 PM, which is when the nursing-home attendants — underpaid women in practical shoes, with pictures of toddlers in their pockets — had gone about their routine bed checks, entered her room, and found she was no longer breathing.

By Sarah Braunstein


An inventive imagination was a gift of the gods — or a curse if you couldn’t control it. Elsie would sometimes start talking, telling a story, say, and get so carried away, piling it on so thick, flying off on so many tangents, that she might as well have been speaking in tongues. If you pointed this out to her, her response would be to clam up.

By Sigrid Nunez

Selected Poems

from “The Best Moment of the Night” | You had a moment with the dog, / down near the base of the butcher-block table / just as the party was getting started.

By Tony Hoagland

The Return

This is what life does, as an act of great / though often misunderstood kindness — it brings us / over and over again to the same sorrows.

By Ruth L. Schwartz

Getting Ready

You know where you start, but you don’t know where / you’ll end up, so never begin a trip on an empty stomach, / my uncle Enrique said, pulling into the brand-new / Wendy’s, the first in Costa Rica.

By Mark Smith-Soto