Gary Mason is a columnist for the Globe and Mail. He used to write (for a long time) for the Vancouver Sun. I still think of him as a BC’er, sort of...
Gary’s last column was about ‘Getting out of the madness and goin’ up country’. More specifically, the actual title is: “It’s time to unplug and escape this nightmare we live in”.
It seems he suddenly felt the need to immerse himself in the forest and isolate himself from the modern world. Poor Gary. Poor, foolish, overwhelmed and burnt-to-a-crisp, Torontonian Gary. I know the feeling well. He’s close to breaking……
He’ll likely do it. Move. Quit. Maybe. (But once the thought happens……..it is VERY hard to let it go…)
Cutting the umbilicals is hard. And the older you get, the harder it is. Mind you, a lot of people who have no intention of cutting loose get a cabin and find themselves, somehow, less engaged in the madding crowd, the rat race, the hoi polloi. They are the accidental retirees. “Oh no! We’re in a cabin. We are not off the grid, tho. We aren’t crazy!”
But maybe…they now live ‘out of town’, dress in old clothes, shop infrequently and maybe even sport solar panels somewhere. They sure as hell don’t lease their Mercedes anymore. Parking expenses drops. They start their days slowly and end them at happy hour. They call it retirement but NOT off the grid. Off the grid is too extreme. They are still ON THE GRID and proud to be so. They are civilized. They can drive. They have power. Big screen TV. They still have a sub-zero fridge.
OK, they probably have well-water now, too, and a generator for power interruptions. Septic tank service? Maybe a dog? Some whackos even try their hand at chickens. They might even use a clothesline. They grow gardens. They maybe even hunt, fish, forage and swap with neighbours but they are NOT off the grid. “I told ya! We’re not crazy hippies, ya know!”
“Last time we went in for fancy restaurant food? Or an evening event? Geez…….been awhile, now that you ask…..”
The point? Whether you think you go off the grid or not, most people unplug and disengage with the mainstream of life as they age. That is not news. Old people retire and retirement is synonymous with slower pace, gardening, quilting and such. Retirees slow down, drop out and disengage with the modern world. It’s natural.
Some, of course, have a bit of fun and go RV’ing or boating first. Some move to cabins and cottages from the get-go. Some relocate to a small town. And some, of course, stay in the city but, no matter the path, it is always less hectic and less stressful, more satisfying and contented, basically a ‘better life’ (for most). Old people can’t keep up the pace of modern life, learning new apps and getting new phones to do even more modern crap. Gary is simply getting in touch with that kinda change. He is meeting his inner pensioner.
We all do.
Me? On the face of it, you’d think we got down with our inner pensioners early. We certainly dropped out early. And WE ARE OFF THE GRID…….but, like I wrote in our second book, OTG is mostly a state of mind. I am 70 now and I can sense yet another and a different gear. It’s getting markedly slower again.
I guess what I am saying is, we hit OTG at a fast pace fifteen years ago and, even tho the lifestyle is slower and healthier overall and by direct comparison to what we left, we came early and with energy. We were not as retiring as many who did what we did simply because our first few years were more intense than I am describing as ‘normal’ retirement. In that sense, we were premature retirees.
I think we are there now, tho.
Long distance air travel is done. I write now, for fun. Sal quilts. I look forward to dinner way, way too early every day (second favourite thing). Getting one chore done a day now passes for ‘accomplishment’. I no longer have to do ten. I dropped to three or four chores a few years ago. Now? One chore a day is good enough (no, blogging does not count as a chore). We are slowing down. We are retiring.
NOW, at 66 and 70, we are truly retiring…….
Gary? You coming?