Living off the grid is some kind of personal statement but I am not sure if it is just limited to one simple theme – whatever one might imagine that to be. One goes off the grid for myriad reasons but, if I think about it, one statement above all – for me, anyway – has to be fear.
I am not even sure that the fear can be well-defined. It is certainly not fear of traffic or fear of living cheek-by-jowl. I am not afraid of traffic lights or high-rises. I am not afraid of grids. We grew accustomed to all that living in the city until our mid-fifties. Not much to fear in that mix at the worst of times.
It is not fear of crime, higher prices or even increasing authoritarian rule although those feelings do simmer just below the surface at times – especially as one gets older. It is not so much fear of any single threat. It is rather more like a fear of an insidious malaise, something felt rather than seen.
Put more dramatically, I think it is mostly the fear of dying before we are done. I think it is the fear of death by a thousand cuts. I think it is the fear of losing vitality before losing breath. It’s probably most easily described as fear of terminal boredom.
Being bored, of course, is not in itself a scary thing. But, really, who wants it? What I want is interest and learning and new and different. What I want is freedom to spend the remaining time I have any way I choose. What I want is to feel alive. And there was definitely the feeling that that was not likely to happen in the cul de sac. Not with a big TV and a remote control device in my hand.
So, in that sense it was fear of not living large enough coupled with a renewed desire for learning and challenge and freedom. And fear of sloth, perhaps?
I confess to having had a bit of a fear of becoming unhealthy as well. I simply wasn’t active enough in my fifties to expect any kind of reasonable longevity. Health fears – the reverse of what you might think for those who go óff-grid’ were whispering in the back of my head. I am not afraid of not getting medical services – I was afraid of getting them too soon.
Turns out I am not alone. Sally asked the women at book club what drew them to live remote, to live more minimally and simply, to embrace hardship and to eschew comfort and convenience. The consensus answer was, “Living out here make me feel more alive. Being outside, being physical, feeling the weather, facing challenges and learning new ways focuses me, clears my head and makes me appreciate the moment much more than I ever did in the city.”
There is no question that the above captures the bulk of the sense of fear-on-the-negative-side and vitality-on-the-positive side but I think there is more.
Well, there is more to fear NOW than when we left the city – that is for sure. I now fear the increasing role of government without the tempering effects of democracy much more than I ever did. I fear the destruction of the planet by way of pollution and climate change, nuclear meltdowns and worse, nuclear tyrants. I fear the increasing police state. And I fear being reliant on those terrible forces for my survival probably the most.
But I admit that I had less of an idea of that kind of fear until I became more independent so I am not so sure that it is all real or partly just imagined. Trust me, most everyone out here shares those fears to some degree. We are all a little paranoid. It may just come with the territory.
I am also fearful of OIL and what it has come to mean in our lives. Of course, oil provides great benefits but it is an addiction and all addictions come with a huge price. In this case, a huge and life-altering price. That scares me. I am striving to ‘be alive’ and BIG OIL looms large and darkly in the background. It doesn’t feel compatible.
Resistance may be futile. In a fundamental sense we are trying to run away from something way too big and it is not possible. In the end, OIL and or the lack of it will get us all. Living off-the-grid and off-their-radar? I guess I am just hoping to delay whatever the inevitable is for as long as I can. Call me crazy.