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The Sun Magazine

The Sun Interview

From Conflict To Intimacy

An Interview With Danaan Parry

You and I and every human being I have met in any culture — we have all been conditioned to put a barrier between ourselves and other people, to stay safe. And it is that safety that creates most of the conflicts in the world. It’s that crazy paradoxical situation whereby if I stay safe from you in that way, I can make you the enemy, and we can go to war and kill one another. That kind of safety has to end — especially in this nuclear age. We have to make ourselves unsafe to one another personally and psychologically so that our planet can be safe.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

What’s Eating Me

A Memoir

I don’t remember being fed in infancy — my memory doesn’t extend quite that far — but I was seven when my younger brother was born, and I vividly remember his feedings. They were quite a production. The bottles and nipples had to be washed, scrubbed with special brushes, then sterilized in a big metal pot that boiled hard on the stove, the bottles rattling on a rack inside it. The formula had to be mixed; it had to be heated, but not too hot! I can still see my mother testing it on her wrist. Then, and only then, could the baby be fed.

Depression As A Loss Of Heart

Depression is one of the most common problems in modern society. It appears in chronic low-grade forms that can drain a person’s energy and in more acute forms that can be completely debilitating. Our materialistic culture breeds depression by promoting distorted and unattainable goals for human life. And our commonly held psychological theories make it hard for people to make direct contact with depression as a living experience, by framing it as an objective “mental disorder” to be quickly eliminated. The current treatments of choice — drugs, cognitive restructuring, or behavioral retraining — depression at arm’s length. However, in order to help people with depression, we must see how they create and maintain this state of mind in their moment-to-moment experience. This will help us understand depression not merely as an affliction, but as an opportunity to relate to one’s life situation more honestly and directly.

Refrain

I didn’t understand what he meant when I first heard John Lennon sing, “No one can harm you. Feel your own pain.” But I knew his words were true, just as a sudden change in the weather is true, just as the alarm clock with its shrill ring is true.

Fiction

The Pilgrim

Jenny sat inside the roar of the plane, concentrating on distracting herself. She was flying to Seattle in response to one of those phone calls during which the world momentarily freezes in its orbit. “I’m a friend of your father’s,” the woman had said. What was her name? Una? Mia? Something like that. Her voice gave the impression she had wonderful bone structure.

Spies

My grandmother, Stella, lived in the screened porch off our living room. At ten I still thought of it as the screened porch, though it had been bricked up for almost two years, ever since she came to live with us in Maryland. She added a pink-tiled bathroom, with rug and towels and toilet cover to match. Her Mustang was pink, too. She’d driven it all the way from California after divorcing her third husband. Her first husband, our grandfather, died long before my brothers and I were born. The second, whom she divorced to marry the third, had kept their silver Karmann Ghia after a bitter property struggle. This time, whatever else she had lost, she got the car. It sat in our driveway, between the station wagon and the Ford van, exotic as an orchid. Stella washed it every Saturday, unhooking the hose from the sprinkler our father had set up. The five of us kneeled on the living room couch and watched her through the big picture window, fascinated by the way she sprayed and soaped and rubbed each speck of grime until it disappeared. We imagined we felt the cold splash of water on our shoulder blades, the dirty yellow chamois wiping us clean of all our sins: Our grandmother was a person who inspired awe and fear, the oldest and most unnerving phenomenon my brothers and I had yet encountered.

Readers Write

A Letter Never Written

To my mother,
All my life l have wanted to meet you, but not enough to violate your privacy. I’m not sure where I got that idea, but it seems that as long as I can remember, I’ve keenly felt what a painful thing it must have been to give up a child, and how that pain would only be revived were that “child” to reappear unexpectedly in your life. I imagined how the whole fabric of the life that you had constructed since then would be altered, disturbed beyond repair by the person it was structured to forget. But not until almost this very moment, as I write this — my first communication with you of any kind — has any other point of view seemed real or possible to me. For the first time, it dawns on me that you could have wondered all these years, “Is she well? Is she alive or dead? What does she look like? Could I ever see her? Does she ever think of us?”

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

“Why,” a seventy-six-year-old woman was asked. “are you seeking therapy at your age?” Reflecting both her losses and her hopes, she answered, “Doctor, all I’ve got left is my future.’’


Judith Viorst
Necessary Losses

More Quotations ▸
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