A naked man living in a cave and subsisting on foraged berries, roots and wild vegetables for years is definitely off-the-grid if not off-his-nut as well. Living primitively is not fun. Not easy, either. To be pure OTG is a reduction of the human being into an animal whose sole function is survival even if wandering in the all-together is sometimes enjoyable on a sunny day. Basically, it would be a really tough life.
If that man should eventually stumble across a logging road and then use it on a regular basis to get from one patch of berries to the next, technically (according to some readers) he is back on the grid. For some, OTG means leaving everything made-by-others (mbo) behind. EVERYTHING.
That’s just plain silly. I think that definition is wrong-headed.
Our definition of OTG is so much softer and easier as to be legitimately questioned by even the most tolerant and generous definitions but it is still OTG in our books. But I admit, our argument is weak. And that is because we are even weaker. We are pussies. We need some MBO’s. We want a lot of MBO’s.
We like MBO’s.
We get propane delivered by barge twice a year. We buy groceries from the nearest town at the very least once a month. We get mail delivered to within a few miles. We have the ‘net’ by way of a satellite dish. We own a car and occasionally use it (altho I now put on the same number of kms in a month as I used to put on in a day). Cell phone service is marginal but mostly functional. We have grid ties if not actual grids on which we live. But we don’t have the big ones.
Primary travel is by boat. We make our own power (albeit by manufactured panels and electronics). We source our own water. We fight our own fires, provide our own security and make or fix 90% of what needs makin’ or fixin’. But I admit I now have a welder to help me and a shed full of tools – all from the ‘grid’. We are off the grid until it becomes difficult and then we run back on and grab what we need and race back to our strategically near-placed location in case of another emergency like running out of chocolate, scotch or dog food. We are about as off-the-grid as a recreational boater, actually. We can stay at ‘sea’ for a long time but our voyage is always from port to port.
Does it matter? I don’t think so. OTG is not a degree bestowed on you by the U of OTG. It is almost always self-defined and compromised in many ways if examined closely. Even the longest living, most rustic, old-time recluse types when found deep in the woods by documentarians, have axes, knives, stoves and other mod cons that were, at one time, grid-sourced. There are some wild people out there but even they are exposed to the grid from time to time. The reason is not because the ‘grid’ is so ubiquitous (altho it is), it is because the recluse needs something and knows where to get it. It is that simple.
“So, what is your point this time, Dave?”
OTG is a state of mind. It means for us, for the most part, off the merry-go-round, out of the rat race and living as naturally and simply as possible so as to reduce our own personal stresses and tensions. We have come to add into that description, ‘treading lighter’ on the planet but we still tread. We have come to think of it as greener but with the emphasis on ‘ER’. We know it is a 1000% more enjoyable. To us OTG is almost synonymous with vacation or therapy. It is definitely closely associated with retirement. OTG is less a function of grid lines than it is laugh lines, less about modern services and more about healthy living, less about your thoughts, more about your physical actions. OTG is another way of spelling ‘fun’, another way of spelling ‘being present’. And there is plenty of room.
I guess the point is this: “Jump in! The water’s great!”
I would say that anyone who splits hairs and turns up their nose at people living OTG with “modern conveniences” is either
500 years ago native Americans saw the value in the steel tools and weapons of the New world.
It gave them an advantage.
Why work/live harder when you can work/live smarter.
Luddites that want to smash the machines can go live in a cave with some flint and loincloths. Grubs under rocks will look damn appetizing in about 5 days.
As for your style of OTG.
Enjoy watching the news on tv when Toronto is living through another blackout this summer.
I know I will……. :)-
But you always understood. You are an OTG’er temporarily residing urban. A fish temporarily stranded on a sand bar as you make your way to the sea. It’s the apartment dwellers who don’t get it – the ones committed to transit and smartphones and Starbucks. But I really wrote that piece for the fence-sitters, those who are increasingly more tempted but wonder about the difficulty. “There is no real difficulty- just differences!”
The bigger picture is missed when the critics hunt down what they define as inconsistencies in OTG living. The world becomes a more piteous place when aspirational goals must literally true in all respects. What has happened to metaphorical language? Consider the 100 mile diet. A couple that tried it for six weeks, “Then, we wasted away. We were unable to find any locally grown grains-no more bread, pasta, or rice. The only starch left to us was the potato. Between us, we lost about 15 pounds in six weeks. […] James’ jeans hung down his butt like a skater boy. He told me I had no butt left at all. At the end of these desperate six weeks, we loosened our rules.” That is the point unless the critics try something and assess it, the critics have no right to write the rules.
Don’t misunderstand me – the vast majority of those who comment are supportive and accepting of our definition of OTG. The odd person goes a little off-kilter, tilting towards the grubbing and wilding side of the OTG spectrum. Those people may pull it off if they did it. But it would not be fun.
THIS is fun! New label: OTGF.