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Kingston, NY, Tuesday, August 4, 2009

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It took me seven years to write this email

Dear Friend and Reader:

Here is an email that it's taken me seven years to write. Sometimes simple things take a while to see. Trees certainly do have a way of obscuring our view of the forest. But not if you're a bird. And not if you're a skunk.

Planet Waves
Illustration by Jude Valentine.
Here is the question: why subscribe to Planet Waves? The answer is: because you want to.

This is between you and you, of course; however, as a horoscope writer I spend a lot of time nearby that relationship between people and themselves.

What an unusual job description; what unusual trust. In order to maintain the clear place to keep that trust solid, I put the same love and dedication into everything I write.

Consider it this way. If you've ever visited an ashram or a spiritual center, there is often an atmosphere of learning not being a special thing, but something that happens in every aspect of the experience: at meals, when sleeping, and in the ceremonies or workshops that are part of the official program as well.

In that spirit, I would like to consider the whole experience of Planet Waves, whether it's our premium services or the one we offer to everyone as a gift. In our society we have issues over value and gifts; it's difficult for us to desire, offer or receive something with a clear conscience. I could say a lot about how ridiculous our hangups about money are. (For example, do you really need to lend someone $10? Why not just give it to them?)

In my other Web project, the Book of Blue photo diary, I am exploring the theme of the guilt complex: why we feel guilty for wanting what we want; and why we so often feel trapped no matter what we do. Let's see if we can untangle this. You and many other people benefit from Planet Waves. Everyone knows that we are funded by a small portion of our readers, who gain access to timely, artfully created astrology in the form of our weekly magazine, annual edition and other products. Subscribers get the extra materials, and in turn tens of thousands more readers get access to a stunning diversity of free content. We design the website to deliver something useful and timely to everyone: every part of the project is part of the same ashram.

This is the result of my own work ethic and spiritual agenda more than any other factor. Were I in this for the money, I would spend more energy teasing you and less energy delivering something solid. It's just that we're all so used to being teased, we hardly know what to do when someone comes along and says Yes!

Our ability to provide the services we do is one of the miracles of the Internet: we can stay on the air, providing access to excellent materials, with only 1% or 2% of readers actually responding. Yet that's not all that makes us go: we are sustained by many volunteers; part-time assistants; and by everyone who helps going above and beyond the call of duty.

When you read our main page or get our generous sample materials, you are in relationship to all of these people and their efforts and what motivates us, and you know it. If you're not a subscriber, unconsciously or consciously, you know that they are all giving something to you. Like many people, I suspect you feel a need to participate, but there are many ‘reasons' why you might not do so. Only a few of them relate to money; our subscriptions cost less than coffee and give you as much as or more than therapy or workshops or the newspaper or cable television or any other astrology website that we know of.

I am aware that many people who love Planet Waves, and who can afford to subscribe but don't, are often experiencing a disconnect, and it can be quite uncomfortable. The funniest email I got on this subject was from someone who said, essentially, that to her, Planet Waves represents a new version of reality. If she subscribed, she felt like she was committing to that new reality, and she didn't feel ready. Therefore, she would read for free and not make this incredible commitment to changing the world, and her own life.

And I thought, gee whiz, I'm happy I don't put myself through that kind of thing. As an astrologer and spiritual advisor, I don't suggest you do it either; it's a big waste of creative energy. So too is showing up at our pages every day and feeling guilty for doing so because you're not a subscriber -- particularly when you want to be one, and if you can afford it.

For those interested in taking part in Planet Waves; in buying a share of what we are doing; in turning your appreciation for our work into direct energy that will feed the project and everyone who benefits from it, we are offering three different summer specials. If you want to learn more about Astrology News, please check this link. And more about Next World Stories is at this link.

That reader is right: we are putting out a new version of reality, and we have every intention of changing the world, at least a little and maybe a good bit more. You talk about wanting to do that yourself. You're aware that small moves mean a lot -- and if you haven't figured that out yet, I am here to tell you. You are invited to get on board, and be one of the people who is contributing to what will surely be a many-faceted solution, focusing primarily on creating and distributing good information. I know you've wanted to participate for a long time.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

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