Diagram of a Life

I’m not sure how I felt about Ram Dass’ book Be Here Now by 2013 when I made this diagram. “Live now” in the center weaves a thread back to my first reading of Ram Dass shortly after the book came out in 1971.

There was a shortage of mass media and consumer goods to support the new life we believed was possible after the tumultuous 1960s. Be Here Now fed that appetite.

A writer has to have more going on than living in the moment. That’s what the diagram is meant to represent… I think. If these are some of my qualities as a writer, the one that stands out today is “utopian outlook.”

There is a utopian outlook in American society that shows itself in the manifest destiny myth, in our outlook toward business startups, in things as simple as setting up a home. We have a fundamental belief in systems and our role as chief actors in them. The example of Iowa’s remade landscape and the farms and businesses that now populate it offers no more perfect example of utopian outlooks.

Endemic to my writing process is an attempt to figure things out then build a platform of experience from which I can observe the world. I then hope to write pieces that add positively to society: letters, blog posts and opinion pieces. The success of such writing depends on a developed understanding of society combined with a utopian outlook which presumes its perfectibility. Well, if not perfect, then continuously improving.

In 2013 one part of my life had run out of fuel and money, and another was being formed from a series of low-wage jobs. As important as establishing a source of income was, there is no related box on the diagram. Money has never been that important to me, especially once I established a system to pay the bills.

I don’t think there is a western version of Ram Dass unless it was himself. Our survival depends on being here now. What may matter more is how we see the now. That’s what I’m working on as I write my autobiography.