A few years ago I contacted JM about a truck he had for sale. It was pretty cool and I was thinking about buying it. But I didn’t pursue it. He lived in one of the Carolinas and the logistics of such a purchase were huge if not insurmountable. But we talked, anyway. I liked him. He liked me. And we parted as ‘e-mail friends’.
Couple of days ago, I get another e-mail. From JM. “Hey, where’s your blog? Been following it since the truck discussion. Wife and I are heading off-the-grid soon and I liked hearing about what it is like.”
And therein lies the subject of today’s post: Staying in touch when getting away.
Admittedly, the start of this ‘remote’ thing was a bit of a harbinger. My main support in making the leap were my ether friends. Going off-the-grid was very much an internet-driven and influenced thing. Really. And it is my ether friends who now make up much of my ‘connection’.
I mean – of course – the basic instinct, the prime directive, the main motivator was something deep and personal but the very first manifestation of that feeling was my visiting the Mother Earth News forums. There, I ‘connected’ with a few forum members and they, in turn, supported and encouraged such an outrageous plan. They were ‘into it’. Some had knowledge and experience. They were either off-gridders or wanna-bes and both were supports for me.
So is the blog.
In other words: we are not alone out here.
I love living remote. I love the independence. I love the peace, the quiet, the natural beauty and I even love the challenges and the work involved. But we are not really isolated. Not really. We go to town. We have a phone. I write to my friends by way of e-mail and I blog. Staying in touch is a huge part of being out of touch, if you know what I mean? When you get off the grid, you do not get off the world. You just get off the merry-go-round. And you are still, in many ways, remaining in the playground.
I mention this because so much of what I thought being off-the-grid would be like is not. I thought it would be harder in some ways than it is (I actually thought there might be some loneliness, boredom and possible isolation! What a mistake that was!)
I thought it would have been easier in other ways than it was (I didn’t have any idea how difficult it would be to actually construct a whole house on the side of a hill without any modern construction aids except tools and a conscripted wife).
But, mostly, the ‘expectations’ difference is in our connections, our remaining umbilicals.
“Oh, don’t worry. We’ll be coming to Vancouver every month or so. You know, to see friends, take in a show, whatever……..no, hahahahahah, we’ll still be around.” That is what I told people. I honestly thought we’d go to the city frequently. Not only was that very, very wrong but I also developed a loathing for it. It now repels me. That was a huge surprise for a city guy.
I saw the local centre as a one-horse town to do some basic shopping every so often. It was a convenience store for me. Nothing more. It was not a city. It was barely a town to me. Now it is the big smoke, full of hub-bub and urban tensions. It is my ‘source’. I now see the local town as a nerve centre. I even have friends and acquaintances there! That was a major change, too.
I guess what I am saying is that I have ‘shifted’ in so many ways but the need for being connected to others remains in some ways the same. Mind you, many of the connections from the city have dropped off and many of the connections I now enjoy are local but many are also ‘virtual’ in that we have only the blog and e-mail to connect us. But it still works.
Ironic, don’t you think? The further out we went, the further out our connections went. A guy from the Carolinas wrote. It doesn’t get much better than that.