Preaching to the converted

I am kinda messing around here….playing with a part of book 2….your indulgence, please….

Typically, the fresh-start OTG’er has made some kind of conscious choice to exercise conscious choice.  Like I did.  They want more of a role in deciding how their lives are lived.  They want some real freedom.  And, after reading about living off the grid and making the un-plug decision, they decide to ‘go for it’ and, in our society, that means paying for it.  Somehow.

Think about that….first concrete decision to achieving a freely chosen life is to get some money and buy something!  (or conversely, buy your way OUT of something!).  Harry Brown once wrote a book about that called, HOW I FOUND FREEDOM IN AN UN-FREE WORLD.

And, for many, that first fiscal act is to buy a piece of land in the great hairy outback.

And, perhaps we should talk about that.

There is so much to know.  So little time. 

Let’s start with the dream of wide open spaces.  Isn’t that what first comes to mind? Doesn’t off the grid imply that?  Not every one needs wide open spaces but everyone I have ever met off the grid seems to think they do.  I did.  They may not have to own all that they can survey but they do not want anyone else to, either.  So, the idea of living off the grid quickly takes on the almost un-doable task of personal, mini nation-building.  You need acres.  Hundreds of them.  Maybe square miles.  How else are you going to get your remoteness on and your grid off?

Start by giving your head a shake.

First off, not everyone who lives OTG and can see forever without glimpsing other people owns the land under their feet. Not everyone even needs to own the land under their feet.  In fact, many just own the boat they are on or, in a liberal definition of OTG, the vehicle they are driving.  Some own nothing.  Off the grid does not mean having to own land.  In fact, when you think about it, owning land is almost antithetical to living freely and off the grid.  It just doesn’t have to be that way although, if you have the money, it is made a smidge easier if you buy some.

But the point is: most of us do not even think there might be another way.  I didn’t.

There are many other ways.  There are reputedly not just a few non-owners of the land they are on squatting illegally in BC and Canada.  In the USA, they have vast tracts of land that fall to the Bureau of Land Management and these BLM tracts are somewhat notorious for comforting and welcoming the poor, itinerant, landless and the wandering.  You don’t need title to land to exist.

But, let’s just say you do just for fun.  Anarchy does not yet rule your perception of freedom.  Land title still means something to you.  You have decided that you want to own some land even though it is a ridiculous concept. It will not be the first ridiculous concept you will subscribe to.  Or the last.

For the record: It is impossible to own land.  You are encouraged in this mad, societal delusion and mass agreement because so many people think they own land, so many people make a living off people who think they own land and you want to delude yourself along with all the others.  Great.

Call a realtor, a banker, an accountant, a shrink, a marriage counselor and a financial planner.  Propose marriage to all of them.  They’ll accept.  Kiss freedom goodbye.

But, seriously; you can never own land.  If you are over 35, you should know that by now.  I will admit that you can buy and sell land.  You can live on land and hand it to your kids when you die.  You can borrow against it, log it, farm it, mine it and build on it.  You can even make money in the land game.  You can do a helluva lot of stuff to the giant ball on which you reside but you can never own it.  And that is because, they tax you on it all the live long day.  And in so many ways.

Don’t pay your taxes and they take it away from you.  Lose a lawsuit and they take it away from you.  Carve out a piece of that giant pie that happens to be where the government wants to build a prison or garbage dump and, you guessed it, they take it away from you.  And, if that wasn’t enough to erase your make-believe faith in ownership, you DO know you are mortal, right?  You do not live forever.  You might ‘rent’ that dirt, borrow that dirt or otherwise think that dirt is yours but, once you are dead, it is no longer yours.  It goes to someone else.

You never own land. Maybe the great undead (corporations and government) can own land but the mortal never can.

Once you have wrapped your mind around the truth of that great lie, you might wish to reconsider just how much of your limited life’s blood – as measured in the money you have earned – that you want to give away to claim your right to the delusion.  I am going to suggest that you spend whatever is required to get whatever you need to build on and have a garden on it but no more.  Buy that two to five acres next to a national forest, monument, park or so far from hell and gone that no one can or will build near you.  That’s not so bad.  You will only own a small piece but, for all intents and purposes, you have a large space around you.  That should be the goal.  NOT ownership.

I have a friend who owns a piece of land surrounded by Provincial Park.  There is one small bit of freehold, he has it and yet all around him is nothing but miles and miles of forests.  He has trespassers all the time, of course, but they are of the wildlife kind and they don’t respect the Land Titles Registry anyway.  He thinks he owns half the world.

That is the feeling we are after.

And there is more than one way to skin that cat.  I have more than a few friends who just own boats.  No land.  Just boat, engine, anchor and chain.  They go where they want to go, drop the hook and stay there until they desire a change of scenery and then they move.  They think they own half the world, too.

So, living off the grid is not that hard of an entry.  You can do it.  You can even do it poor.

It’s more fun with some money but not by much.  Most of the fun in living freely and by choice is that you ‘do’ stuff.  You ‘experience’.  You learn.  You feel alive.  Money can facilitate that but it also can and does buffer the experience.  It’s a judgment call not just a little influenced by the time you have left.  If you are young, you can spend time instead of dollars.

You are, as they say, what you eat.  But you are also what you do and the sum of those experiences.  If the sum of your experience is gazing at video screens or pressing buttons all day, then that is who you become.  A drone.  A cog in a machine, a living battery in the Matrix.  But, if your life is full of solving problems, meeting challenges, inventing solutions and being curious about the natural world around you, then you become the sum of that experience and it is so much more fun at the very least.

I met a guy the other day who, upon learning I lived off the grid, exclaimed, “Wow!  That’s great!  My wife and I are planning to do that, too.  We are building a house.  It is all green technology and has panels and stuff.  It is going to be so cool.”  But he was not building it.  His wife was not helping him work on it side by side except by working for money to pay the contractor.  He did not really know about alternative energy except that it was cool and all the rage so he was ‘into that’.  The real joke was that he was building his OTG, green home in the city so that they both could still go to work.  And shop.  The house was a status symbol.  New green house technology with granite counter tops is not cheap.

He will miss the best part.

He was a doctor.  She was a teacher.  And they weren’t going anywhere.  They were going green to be hip, to follow the trend, to look good.  They couldn’t really go OTG because they were specialists in a culture that valued specialists.  Gone were the role models who could do everything and do it anywhere.  Now the role model is he or she who can make money in one demanding field located in a licensed, restricted, urban centre which requires huge up front buy-in and life allegiance to the system.

They may have missed the concept.

The average price of a modest home in world-class Vancouver is almost two million dollars.  Get a job there.  Buy a house there.  Where you gonna go after that?  How much real freedom can you afford to exercise every day? How much of your life have you pledged in advance?  And to which bank?  Twenty years?  Go the extra distance and have a child and you can double that answer. Getting accepted into that exclusive club is very, very restricting.  You are not free to do as you please at the Vancouver Club.

Ironically, the other special private club in Vancouver is the Terminal City club.  That name accidentally says even more!

People incarcerated in a federal prison for forty years do not feel comfortable outside of the prison.  They can’t handle the freedom.  They want to go back.  Think about that.



4 thoughts on “Preaching to the converted

  1. The great advantage of being old is that you don’t have to plan for many contingencies – you don’t have time for many. I keep a couple of bottles of really good scotch (I don’t imbibe) for that inevitable day when I must depart. Hopefully its wintertime. I understand that hypothermia in an alcohol induced daze is a very pleasant way to go.
    On the other hand, if you’re young, you’ve got all sorts of contingencies ahead. Earning a living, attracting a partner (I almost said ‘gaining a wife’, but realized that was rather sexist), siring children, and those are just the controllable contingencies.
    What if technology revolutionized the energy business so we were all OTG? What new life techniques would we need to develop in order cope?
    What if you didn’t have two bottles of scotch?


    • Answer to the last question: impossibly theoretical. An unimaginable situation. In fact, when down to the last six bottles, we hit the panic button and start our engines. Don’t say things like that!
      If living OTG was made easier, I think many would choose to do so AFTER their dip in the gene pool. I have met way too many men champing at the bit to think otherwise. AND I have met many women pleasantly surprised at their contentment when they took the leap.


  2. We never planned to go off the grid. Our cabin just grabbed us and said “come live here.” We didn’t build it and probably never could have. Growing up in the big city didn’t give is the right skills. But with help we’ve done pretty good, and prefer our days and nights at the cabin over any other lifestyle at this time in our lives. – Margy


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