I have had those kinds of conversations before. I am likely to have them again. It is really just the standard conversation of people getting older, ‘you tell me your story for the last number of years, and I’ll tell you mine’. It takes fifteen to twenty minutes if there is any real sharing going on, half hour tops. Most stories follow familiar themes. Like Hollywood movies; same but different.
By then it is clear that you still like each other but have taken different paths not very much of them common or shared. Theirs is a film noir, yours is an action comedy. Or vice versa. Some tragedies, of course. Some pure farce. You express good wishes and move on knowing deep down that you are unlikely to meet again, the ‘call me when next in town’ suggestion notwithstanding. Life is like that. Somewhat fleeting. Full of choices. Some good. Some bad. All are different and yet all are much the same; cheap B flicks.
Life is really just a big, giant, weird alphabet soup in which we all simmer, some bits rising to the top, others sticking to the bottom and getting burnt. A lot like Chinese hot and sour soup, actually. And, like life, their soup never ends. Some is ladled out during the day and then it is added to before the next. Somehow, the soup remains the same even though new ingredients are added and a large portion is distributed every day.
And, to beat the metaphor to death by a thousand cuts, it is both hot and sour, sweet and dry, thick and thin and all with rain and cloudy periods.
That is where that goofy metaphor begins to make some sense for our story. We chose NOT to have the soup this time. In fact, we didn’t even enter the same restaurant. Living off the grid is nothing much more than refusing the daily gruel and looking for something different. Better would be good but different was the primary goal. Let there be difference, let there be learning, let there be experience. We went looking for new spices at the very least.
And, while we were at it, we put a hold on some of the routines and tried to kick some of the habits. The stuff of life off the grid is the same as life on the grid, really. Breathe in, breathe out. Eat, sleep and poop. Do something useful during the daylight hours. But, within those restrictions, there is a lot of creative opportunity if you look for it.
If you have lived off the grid for most of your years, then try getting on it for a while. We’d been on that merry-go-round for a long time so we opted to get off it. In fact, we also left the amusement park. It just so happened that we ended up off the grid in the forest. Some people end up off the grid sailing the seven seas or worse, being plucked off the grid and put in prison. Makes no difference how you describe it, making life changes is just removing yourself from what was your norm and placing yourself in what is now strange and different.
Why would anyone do that?
As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Ergo, before you answer that question, you have to start with examining your life. And, if you are like me and everyone else I know, you do not ace the exam. If you get high marks in the 90’s then maybe you stay the course, become a lawyer, get a BMW and increase your surplus dollar count. Valedictorian. If you are getting B’s then maybe you just try harder. A few divorces, a few heart attacks. Woohoo!
If you are like most of those who get a failing grade at U of UL, you drop the course and the university and enroll in one somewhere else, one hopefully more to your liking or, usually for most people, less challenging and with lower standards. I dropped out of the University of Urban Life after barely getting my masters (the bachelor part was easy) and ran off with my bff student buddy to try the College of the Wilderness. We are getting passing grades. It is hard but fun. It is doable. We like it. We may graduate summa cum laude from this one.
Or die trying. We may just run out of time.