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Then & Now

Taking drugs, embracing change, walking without a map

February 15, 2021

In this new online feature inspired by the recently retired “One Nation, Indivisible” section of the magazine, we’ll dive into our archives to link our past to our present. We hope these pieces spark conversation, contemplation, and self-reflection.


In this month’s interview with professor of psychiatry and human ecology Charles Raison, he describes the potentially therapeutic effects of psychedelic drugs. His comments called to mind this quote from The Sun’s founder and editor, Sy Safransky, from our January 2014 issue. Have experiences with psychedelics affected your life?

I never would have started The Sun were it not for LSD. I don’t usually talk about that, because I think some readers might be dismayed to hear it. But I also believe it’s important to honor our teachers, regardless of the form they take, and for me LSD was an extraordinary teacher. It was a key to a door I didn’t even know existed — and once I opened that door, in my midtwenties, I was irrevocably changed.

Sy Safransky, “Beginner’s Mind,” January 2014

 

Kenneth Hart’s new poem “Birthday” made us think of our 1991 Readers Write. What’s been your most memorable birthday?

There are many things I want for my birthday: a camera, a file cabinet, new shoes, a couple of nights at a bed-and-breakfast in Mendocino. . . . But what I really want for my birthday may not be so easy to get. I want to stop being so fearful of loss. I want to gently embrace the process of change. Isn’t that what growing older is all about?

Marya Glass, “Birthdays” (Readers Write), May 1991

 

In his essay “Rain Shadows” Steve Edwards describes taking long walks with his son. This excerpt, from Pamela Altfeld Malone’s interview with her husband, Joe Malone, describes the value of walking.

The best way to see a foreign place — and a foreign place could be a town five miles from you, it doesn’t have to be across the sea — is just to get out and start walking. If you have a map in your pocket, which I usually do, so much the better. But don’t use the map. Not yet. Use it later, to get back. In the meantime, just follow your nose. If you see something that looks invigorating, exhilarating, and wondrous, follow it.

Joe Malone, “Pedestrian Dreams,” August 1992

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