My dear friend and comrade in the fight against income inequality and mental slavery, as well as the fight for personal freedom and autonomy, just wrote a review of my novel. I met De-Li through Twitter and cherish his friendship deeply. Thank you, De-Li! You are valued!
By “Robert” Wei De-Li…
It is all too easy to become inured to the conditions of our lives. In modern society, it is easy to get lost in the mundane and lose perspective of our health, well-being and spirituality. The author of “Diary of a 99%er” has realized this and charts out an alternative to this lack of awareness through the vehicle of story – one that reflects her own growing awareness and a perspective that can likely offer you the reader some insight into the society in which she lives and how one may personally make it better.
Speaking as someone who has spent the majority of his life in Asia, yet having also spent significant time in the US, I have observed the norms of Western life as an outsider. Therefore with the advantage of an unattached perspective there is much that resonates for me as I read Ms. Helene’s narrative. Life in the West is not all that some may imagine, be it through the imagination of outsiders or the expectations of its participants. While superficially and materially there may (or may not) be more to content one’s self with, the vast majority of people are often stuck in the so-called “rat race,” a seemingly never-ending struggle to keep up with the norms of a society that largely ignores the spiritual health of its members and while appearing more affluent than many of us in the East they are locked into a mind-numbing and soul-crushing existence where even the simple pleasures of living that we sometimes take for grant are missing. The slogan “The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” rings quite hollow for many, and such fruits of life seem hard to reap. Yet, endemically to that society as in many others currently, a powerful elite has obtained almost complete dominance of society in a way that is quite pervasive and intrusive. The Occupy Movement named those elite the 1%. Only the 1% by my estimation actually enjoy to some degree the freedom of that society; a freedom they all too often use to err greatly.
By contrast the life of the 99% is one dominated by hierarchy, bureaucracy and an expectation placed upon them of mental slavery. Where if you don’t keep up and shut up you might easily find yourself struggling even to survive in a place that otherwise looks like paradise. A place where being poor is seen as a crime and being truly free is viewed as subversive. To free one’s self from the chains of mental slavery – as per the words of the famous song by Bob Marley – one really must attain to a spiritual awakening and real freedom.
One of my family members experienced this life first hand. She was changed by that experience. Living under such duress of pretend affluence working for the boss from hell in none other than the fashion industry, I could no longer recognize the kind and loving sister I once knew. She exhibited even some psychosis – waking in the middle of every night cursing and moving around in an agitated state within her apartment while I visited her once in New York City. I engaged her in her dream state: “Who am I?” “You know damn well who you are, you f@#$ing b^*ch,” then saying the name of her boss. This is not an acceptable “side-effect” of pursuing one’s dream, neither was the disguised poverty or anorexia. I wish she had given up that rat race then to pursue her bliss rather than a mere objective of superficial affluence and high fashion.
In this work, D. Helene has written a book addressing all these issues while giving insight upon what life is like living in that society. Most importantly she addresses the conundrum of a very modern life in Southern California; how to free one’s self from the struggle of living paycheck-to-paycheck in such an affluent, consumerist-based society via a spiritual path. Although ostensibly a fictional account I sense that the author has lived out these experiences in one way or another.
More specifically, this story is written as a series of chronological diary entries which gives the reader an immediate sense of intimacy and attachment to the main character of the narrative, “Toni Kelly.” It also makes one cheer for a near universal goal espoused by our protagonist: the spiritual freedom of financial independence.
As the entries pass we are introduced to the conditions of a life that is not yet reaching its full potential, but that bewilderment gives way to quiet determination. All aspects of everyday life are addressed through the narrative: health, exercise – specifically the practice of yoga, diet, budgeting, consumer choices, workplace dynamics and relationships. We quickly see how the physical and mental practice of yoga helps Toni overcome the obstacles life presents.
June 14th is a turning point that lays out the protagonist’s goals, one that many a desk jockey would relish. Thereafter we as readers are along for the ride discovering the ups and downs on that road to independence. While that road never quite reaches a terminus we all may observe the struggle that lies along that path.
You can sample her unique style in her self-published work “Diary of a 99%-er: The Struggle between Survival and Creative Self-Expression” here and see if her work resonates with you.