Special video posting: Sy Safransky & bicycling Big Sur


“What is to give light must endure burning.” The Sun Magazine is dedicated to this quote by Victor Frankl, Austrian psychoanalyst and holocaust survivor.

Sometimes criticized for its focus on melancholy and darkness, the Sun explores the human experience through a unique collection of essays, poetry and fiction. Editor Sy Safransky is the heart and mind behind the Sun, which has been in publication since 1974. His commitment to delve into painful experiences provides the reader with an opportunity for empathy and catharsis. 

I was confronted a couple months before this tour that the magazine was depressing, focusing too much on the negative or abusive qualities of human nature. I find it to be the contrary: inspiring and hopeful. Much like cycling the Big Sur coast, excruciating painful climbs and exhilarating descents are part of the whole, the yin and yan of life.

I’ve gotten to know Sy more personally through the retreats at Esalen, and on this third retreat a new aspect of our relationship emerged: his teasing. Incessant. A bit surprising, but as Angela noted, “It means he likes you.” Thanks, Sy. I really didn’t take it the wrong way. And I like you too, a lot. I am deeply grateful for the Sun, for the retreats, for the candor and bravery in your personal writings.

So Sy, my new friend: as promised, here is the video of your reading. Now you can experience what you look and sound like. I couldn’t superimpose your voice over the bicycling videos as you requested, but I’ve followed your reading with three thrilling descents of the Big Sur coast. (A note to the viewer – you might want to turn down the volume during the cycling videos due to annoying road noise, but you will definitely need to turn it up during Sy’s reading. He is soft spoken and you won’t want to miss any of it.)

The Sun has helped me to find my voice, both through the writing retreats and through the courage of contributing writers. In my quest, as I’ve been searching the depths of my soul for understanding and mercy, the Sun has been a constant companion.

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