A librarian friend of mine whose community lives largely off the grid in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Appalachians commenting on our book said, “I think it is fun but the best part was reading of your mindset. We can’t teach that. People have it or they don’t. Mindset is what it is all about”.
I agree with her. Mindset. Attitude. Personal view on life. Whatever it is, it is something that sets one’s path, determine one’s approach, delivers results and, ultimately, influences your mental health and state of happiness. One thing, for sure, it is not stuff and money that makes for a healthy life – it is mindset and attitude.
So, how does one get an off-the-grid attitude? Especially, if my librarian is right and it can’t be taught? I think the answer is pretty simple: it CAN be taught but it has to be self-taught. The first step in getting your head clear is wanting to. The second step is wanting to enough to pursue it with some action and focus. I have no idea how one pursues it, but we did. We just did. And, I don’t think it has to be off the grid so much as out of the matrix.
And Sal just sent me an article that she thinks sums that up: It is written under a nom de plume, Sigmund Fraud. He tends toward extreme language. These are 90% his words but I will give you the condensed version:
For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. Maintaining the suspension of disbelief in the illusion, however, is often more comforting for the audience and the magician.
And so we live in a world of illusion. So many of the concerns that occupy the mind and the tasks that fill the calendar arise from planted impulses to become someone or something that we are not. This is no accident. As we are indoctrinated into this authoritarian-corporate-consumer culture that now dominates the human race, we are trained that certain aspects of our society are untouchable truths, and that particular ways of being and behaving are preferred.
The magicians disempower people in this way. They blind us with absolutes that are aimed at shattering self-confidence and confidence in your own determination and, in doing so, in the future. The magicians are seen as powerful, the audience is weak.
Advertising is just the tip of that deceptive iceberg. When we look further we see that the overall organization of life is centered around the pursuit of illusions and automatic obedience to institutions and ideas which are not at all what they really are. We are in a very real sense enslaved by being fooled and lied to. Many call this somewhat intangible feeling of oppression ‘the matrix,’ a system of total control that invades the mind, programming individuals to pattern themselves in accordance with a mainstream system, conformist versions of reality, no matter how wicked it gets.
The grandest of the illusions which keep us enslaved to the matrix, the ones that have so many of us still entranced, are outlined below for your consideration.
1. THE ILLUSION OF LAW, ORDER AND AUTHORITY
For so many of us, following the law is considered a moral obligation, and many of us gladly do so even though corruption, scandal, and wickedness repeatedly demonstrate that the law is plenty flexible for those who have the muscle to bend it. Police brutality and police criminality is rampant in the US, the courts favor the wealthy, and we can longer even lead our lives privately thanks to the intrusion of state surveillance. Not to mention the lawyers. And all the while the illegal and immoral Orwellian permanent war rages on in the background of life, murdering and destroying whole nations and cultures. The Law is more than an ass, it is complicit in the evil we do.
The social order is not what it seems either, for it is entirely predicated on conformity, obedience and acquiescence which are enforced by our unreasonable fear of random violence. Most day to day violence in our society comes from enforcement of the so-called ‘law’. And when the law itself does not follow the law, there is no law, there is no order, and there is no justice. The power, privilege, pomp and trappings of authority are merely a concealment of the truth that the current world order is predicated on control, not consent.
2. THE ILLUSION OF PROSPERITY AND HAPPINESS
Adorning oneself in expensive clothes and trinkets, and amassing collections of material possessions that would be the envy of any 19th century aristocrat has become a substitute for genuine prosperity. And health. Maintaining that illusion of prosperity-as-health, though, is critical to our economy as it is, because its foundation is built on consumption, fraud, credit and debt rather than life-giving sustainability. The banking system itself has been engineered (as if by magic) from the top down to create unlimited wealth for some while taxing the eternity out of the rest of us. We are enslaved financially, too.
True prosperity is a vibrant environment and an abundance of health, happiness, love, and relationships. As more people come to perceive material goods as the form of self-identification in this culture, we slip farther and farther away from the experience of true prosperity.
3. THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE AND FREEDOM
Read between the lines and look at the fine print, we are not free, not by any intelligent standard. Freedom is about having choice, yet in today’s world, choice has come to mean a simple dumbed-down selection between available options, always from within the confines of a corrupt legal, corporate and taxation system and within the boundaries of culturally accepted and enforced norms.
Just look no further than the phony institution of modern democracy to find a shining example of false choices appearing real. Two (or three in Canada) entrenched, corrupt, archaic political parties are paraded as the pride and hope of the nation, yet fourth, fifth and sixth party and independent voices are intentionally blocked, ridiculed and plowed under. Selection from two or three is not choice.
The illusion of choice and freedom is a powerful oppressor because it fools us into accepting chains and short leashes as though they were the hallmarks of liberty.
Limited multiple choice is different than freedom of choice, and it makes for easy servitude.
4. THE ILLUSION OF TRUTH
Truth has become a touchy subject in our culture, and we’ve been programmed to believe that ‘the‘ truth comes from the demigods of media, celebrity, and government. If the TV declares something to be true, then we are heretics to believe otherwise.
Or worse, we are taught by intellectuals that ‘there is no real truth, only interpretations’.
In order to maintain order, the powers that be depend on our acquiescence to their version of the truth. While independent thinkers and journalists continually blow holes in the official versions of reality, the illusion of matrix-truth is so very powerful that it takes a serious personal upheaval to shun the cognitive dissonance needed to function in a society that openly chases false realities.
5. THE ILLUSION OF TIME
They say that time is money, but this is a lie. Time is your life.
The big deception here is the reinforcement of the idea that the present moment is of little to no value, that the past is something we cannot undo or ever forget, and that the future is intrinsically more important than both the past and the present. This carries our attention away from what it actually happening right now and directs it toward the future. Once completely focused on what is to come rather than what is, we are easy prey to advertisers and fear-pimps who muddy our vision of the future with every possible worry and concern imaginable.
If time is money, then life can be measured in dollars. When dollars are worth less, so is life. This is total deception, because life is, in truth, absolutely priceless. The first step in getting off the grid is, by no accident, getting as far off the money-metric as is possible.
6. THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATENESS
On a strategic level, the tactic of divide and conquer is standard operating procedure for authoritarians and invading armies, but the illusion of separateness in our culture runs even deeper than this.
We are programmed to believe that as individuals we are in competition with everyone and everything around us, including our neighbors and even mother nature. Us vs. them to the extreme. This flatly denies the truth that life on this planet is infinitely inter-connected. Without clean air, clean water, healthy soil, good neighbours and a vibrant global sense of community we cannot survive here.
While the illusion of separateness comforts us by gratifying the ego and and offering a perverted sense of personal control, in reality it only serves to enslave and isolate us.
The grand illusions mentioned here have been staged before us as a campaign to encourage blind acquiescence to the demands of the system or the ‘matrix’. In an attempt to dis-empower us, they demand our conformity and obedience, but we must not forget that all of this is merely an elaborate sales pitch. They can’t sell us what we choose NOT to buy. We can choose to get out and we can choose NOT to buy in.
We chose out.
Sal and I started making sensible, healthy choices by first stepping off the merry-go-round to see what might be possible. I have to say that getting off was a lucky leap of faith and landing on our feet was another gift. Having said that, there is no doubt, once off the spinning wheel it is all but impossible to get back on. So it was a one-way choice. Fortunately, we don’t care about that. We could not possibly have the new ‘mindset’ without first escaping the bulk of the old mind-controlled one. This new perspective is already proving the leap was worth it. We are happier now with our own illusions.