Several years ago I discovered The Sun on the shelves of a small bookstore in Raleigh, North Carolina. I was in the habit of wandering around bookstores and libraries, searching other people’s writing for answers to questions like Who am I? and How should I live my life? I would optimistically bring home books, but they always ended up decorating my nightstand, unread beyond the first few pages.
At that time I was worn a little thin. My family and I had moved nine hundred miles from the only place we’d ever called home, we’d bought a house that was more of a fixer-upper than we’d bargained for, and my youngest child had just started kindergarten. The existential questions were a never-ending dialogue in my head. I quieted them by doing the sort of things I’d been told I should do to feel better: practice yoga, clean the house, eat homemade sauerkraut. But there was still a hole, a yearning for something I couldn’t name.
Remaining ad-free not only preserves space for pieces that speak to the joy and heartache of the everyday; it also blocks out the everyday noise that creeps in and whispers, You are not enough.
When I found The Sun, I recognized that it was a resting spot, a break from the dizzying perfection economy: Lose the weight! Buy the things! Win at life! I was so tired of it all, yet still struggling to keep pace, to be good enough. With its ad-free pages, poignant photography, and honest writing, The Sun didn’t tell me how to be better. It said, You are welcome as you are. It was a balm to my aching places. In short order I was a subscriber, a contributor, and, in time, an employee.
I joined The Sun at a moment of transition. I had spent just five days in the office when COVID sent us all home to work remotely. I didn’t know my coworkers well then, but I felt a kinship with them. We shared a love of this one-of-a-kind, against-all-odds magazine. I used to wonder how a nonprofit, ad-free publication like The Sun could survive. Within my first month of corresponding with readers and contributors and interacting with my colleagues, I knew the answer: a faithful group of people believe in the magazine and pledge to keep it going.
What initially drew me to The Sun is still my favorite aspect of it: our pages aren’t stuffed with “content” or thinly veiled infomercials in print form. Remaining ad-free not only preserves space for pieces that speak to the joy and heartache of the everyday; it also blocks out the everyday noise that creeps in and whispers, You are not enough. It’s a privilege to show emotional photos without distraction, to print an extra poem instead of an advertisement, and to run a provocative interview without fear of pushback from sponsors. Supporters like you make this possible.
If you value the sense of conversation and community The Sun offers each month, I invite you to become A Friend of The Sun. Your donation helps us pay contributors fairly and fill our pages with new voices. Your support means we can send free copies of the magazine to people who are incarcerated or going through a rough patch. With your help we can print writing that cuts through the loneliness, photos that inspire appreciation of the overlooked, and Readers Write stories that show the connections among us all.
The last two years of the pandemic have often been suffocating and isolating, as well as fraught with division and discord. So many of us are threadbare — grieving and facing unanswerable questions: How do we catch our breath? How do we begin the process of mending? I don’t know, but at difficult times like these I find myself turning toward The Sun, whose writers and photographers have always left me feeling awed instead of awful.
Months after I subscribed to The Sun, my nightstand was no longer heaped with unread books. It was covered with issues of my favorite magazine — dog-eared, bent-spined, underlined, loved. I hadn’t found the answer to How can I make sense of this life? but I realized I wasn’t alone in asking. And that was more than enough.
P.S. You can become A Friend of The Sun by mailing your donation in the envelope provided. You can also donate online at thesunmagazine.org/donatenow. Your gift is tax-deductible, and we’ll send a receipt for your records