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Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Driven By Desire

The first sharp pang of desire hit me in the parking lot of my daughter’s preschool. It was a cold winter day in North Carolina, and as I buckled my seat belt, another mother maneuvered her gleaming new Volvo station wagon into the space beside my 1992 Honda Civic. She smiled and gestured for me to roll down my window so we could talk.

The Sun Interview

Who Will Heal The Healers?

Pamela Wible On What’s Missing From Healthcare Reform

I was extremely disheartened, because I felt I was destined to be a doctor, but I couldn’t sustain my enthusiasm on the assembly line; it was such a dehumanizing experience. I was tired of interrupting crying people to say, “Sorry, we’re out of time.” I wanted to be kind to patients, even if it meant a huge cut in my salary. Many doctors feel this way. I’ve met several female physicians who are ready to quit medicine and find other work.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Gifted Classes

I have nothing to say about the politics of poverty, what causes it and what it causes and how to make it go away. I can only tell you what poverty does to a person. It gets inside you, nestles into your bones, and gives you a chill that you cannot shake. Poverty becomes you — it shapes what you see and taste and dream — till there is no telling where you stop and poverty begins. To be poor is to live in denial — not the denial of professional counselors and self-help books, which is an avoidance of some truth too painful to admit, but denial in its most literal sense: you must say no to yourself constantly.

Sy Safransky's Notebook

October 2005

“We can’t forget,” my friend C. said. “Forgetting what happened to the people of New Orleans will exact too high a price. We can’t just send off a check, and cry again over the images, and pretend there’s nothing left for us to do.”

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Poor And Poorer

Growing Up In The Projects

The endless rows of cramped units were designed to house the maximum number of people in the smallest, most underdeveloped side of town. Most families were black. There were only two categories — the poor but not yet without hope, and the poor without any hope.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Confessions From A Conversion Van

The owner of the sports bar knows I sleep in the parking lot on weeknights. He doesn’t seem to mind. I’m a curiosity — the homeless professor. He thinks I must be one of a kind, but I’m not so sure. Anyway, I’m not even a professor. More like an adjunct instructor. I’d move closer to work, but I could never afford to live in Martinsburg now that it’s becoming a D.C. bedroom community.

The Sun Interview

Louder Than Words

Starhawk On Street Activism And Global Justice

It’s always a good time to ask ourselves what kind of world we want to live in. There is a future clearly laid out for us in which decision-making power belongs to those who have the money, and their decisions will support short-term profit value, making every other human and natural value subordinate to it. We will have less and less freedom, less and less of the services we need to sustain life and community, less and less of all the things people really care about and love.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

At Home In L.A.

The first time I met my future in-laws, I was standing next to the bed that their son and I had been sharing for some months. The apartment was small, the bed very large. While the four of us made a stab at pleasantries, our eyes darted furtively to pillows and sheets.

The Sun Interview

Across The Universe

Stanislav Grof On Nonordinary States Of Consciousness

It became clear to me that consciousness is not a product of the neurophysiological processes in the brain, as I had been taught at the university, but something much higher, possibly superordinate to matter. The idea that consciousness somehow mysteriously emerges from matter didn’t make sense to me anymore. It was easier to imagine that consciousness could create the experience of the material universe by an infinitely complex orchestration. I was suddenly in the realm of the Eastern philosophies, where consciousness is a primary attribute of existence and cannot be reduced to anything else.