Almost everyone has a passion for something. I'm lucky enough to have two passions. One of them is the Indianapolis Colts, a team in the National Football League. I've been a fan since 1994, and have remained loyal through some of the franchise's worst seasons.
(I even wrote a column on the Colts for the Indianapolis Star-News for three years before Acupuncture Today came into being.) After suffering through several years of heartbreaking defeats, the team finally seems to be on the right track. In fact, as I write this column (December 30, 2003), I'm preparing for a trip to Indianapolis, where the Colts will host a playoff game against the Denver Broncos. The Colts have never won a home playoff game, and I'm not about to pass on an opportunity to be part of history. I guess I'm an example of why some people say "fan" is short for "fanatic."
My other passion, of course, is Acupuncture Today. I've been with AT since Marilyn Allen, Don Petersen and a few others decided to go forward with the publication back in the summer of 1999. Marilyn and Don have put a lot of trust in me over the years, and I've done my best not to let them - or you - down. Like a proud parent, I've seen it grown in size and scope to the point that Acupuncture Today is now one of the most respected publications in the profession.
Because of the efforts of Don and Marilyn - along with our columnists, contributing authors, review editors, advertisers and staff members - you hold in your hands a copy of the 50th issue of AT. Many "experts" didn't think we would last more than a year. I think everyone who has been involved with the publication deserves a big round of applause, and on a personal note, my heartfelt thanks. Words can't express the respect and admiration I have for you. Simply put, without you, Acupuncture Today wouldn't be around - and I'd probably be working someplace else.
As I mentioned, this is the 50th issue of Acupuncture Today. That's a milestone of sorts; a small one, but a milestone nonetheless. In a credenza behind my desk are several large binders that contain copies of every issue of AT that's been published. Once in a while, I'll pull one of those binders out and look at the old issues. Doing this reminds me of how far we have come in the past few years, and how many things we still have to accomplish before we're satisfied.
I liken Acupuncture Today's progress to that of a high school student. You remember what it was like back in high school, don't you?
In your freshman year, you were more or less lost. You had a handful of friends (if you were lucky), you didn't really know where anything was or how the system worked, and you tried to just feel your way around without the upperclassmen picking on you.
In your sophomore year, you started to get the hang of things. You realized it was best not to order the "Taco Surprise" in the cafeteria. People stopped trying to give you wedgies in the hallway. You knew the quickest way to get from your math class to your history class. You made new friends, some of whom would remain friends for life. And you paid attention to your instructors, who filled your mind with new ideas, experiences and possibilities.
In your junior year, you hit your stride. You'd matured considerably over the past two years, and the results were evident to everyone. For instance, that recurring case of acne you'd had during your freshman and sophomore years disappeared miraculously. You kept your nose clean and stayed out of trouble. Best of all, you were now in the "upper" division, which earned you a new level of respect on campus. New students asked you for directions to class and looked to you for guidance, instead of it being the other way around - and it felt good.
Finally, your senior year arrived. You were at the top of your class. You studied as hard as ever, but in the back of your mind, you couldn't help but think about life after high school. Would you go to college and continue your education? Would you get a job? Would you join the military? Would you take a year off and travel? The opportunities were limitless.
That's where Acupuncture Today is now. After four years, we've "graduated," so to speak, and it's time to take things to a different level.
So, Where Do We Go From Here?
All things considered, I'm quite proud of the work we've done. We've covered topics no other publication has written about; conducted exclusive interviews with some of the profession's leaders; reported on new studies that prove the benefits of acupuncture, tai chi, qigong, herbal remedies and other aspects of Asian healing; and provided timely news and feature articles that benefit our readers. We're also on friendly terms with the AAOM and the AOM Alliance, the Acupuncture Guild, the CCAOM, ACAOM, AOMNC and the NCCAOM, and we've established contacts with most of the acupuncture schools and state associations - in short, nobody hates us. That's a great feeling.
I sometimes wonder about the direction of the publication, however. I know that not everyone feels as passionate about AT that I do, but I nevertheless get disappointed when I find that some people don't share the same concerns that Marilyn and I have, or that their motivations are something other than philanthropic. I also feel there's a lot more we can and should do to at least maintain, if not improve, the paper's reputation.
My hope is that we can be just as proud of the next 50 issues of Acupuncture Today as we are of the first 50 issues. As I said earlier, there are a lot of objectives we'd like to meet before we can be fully satisfied with the quality of AT as a leading source of news and information for the profession. I'm asking all of you - the students, teachers, practitioners, administrators and suppliers who comprise our readership - to help Marilyn and myself keep Acupuncture Today moving forward. This really is your publication as much as it is ours. Whatever your ideas may be, we are always happy to listen.
There will be many challenges ahead, but together, we can achieve great things. We look forward to those challenges, and to working with you to meet them head-on.