Its all about perspective right? I mean the concept of living “off the grid.” It is dreamy and hip now. It has its own magazines and newsletters. TV shows are popping up a dozen at a time creating the movements own small celebrity base. I’ve even been fortunate enough recently to work with some of them. Hollywood stars are buying Off-Grid farms as vacation homes, and bragging about them in people magazine. Hell, if there isn’t a fashion line out already I will be thoroughly surprised. Actually the “Lumber-Sexual” craze might constitute. The hype is growing so big and so fast that we may be edging towards being counter productive to the whole reason for the life style change to begin with. The reasons to do so, to make that step, is different for everyone, but the results in the long run I believe are the same.
Make no falsehoods about it, this life style is hard. You cant fake it, you cant be lazy, and you cant skip ahead. It is constant work. Being”off the grid” also means being self reliant. You will become your own utility company, and your own super market. You will work ten times harder for everything, but you will find a profound fulfillment and respect for the quiet hidden treasures that most people miss everyday. You will know exactly what I mean when you eat your very first salad from your very first garden, or your first steak from the game you butchered and packaged. You will feel the smile creep onto your face as you spend your first night in the house you finally finished building. Eventually you might even gain an edge on your financial stability and freedom. You will be up earlier and working later. You will certainly see more sunrises and sunsets and that alone is worth the switch. But if you think its all about skipping through the forest picking berries in your Birkenstocks, lounging around reading a book in your red plaid pajamas, or sipping wine by the fire place in a cabin in the mountains, then I am sorry to say that you my friend are in for a tough surprise. That might be what’s on the cover of the magazine but those moments only exist if you’ve worked hard enough to afford the time for them. Don’t get me wrong here the craze has produced some great resources now for would be off-griders. There are mail order shops, and on-line market places to pick up all the nifty gadgets that have come about in the last few years of the boom. I’ve even heard rumors that the mega-hardware giant Home Depot has contemplated an “off grid” section in their stores, though I’ve yet to see it for myself. Being Off The Grid is big and new and hip, and I guess its that direction of the movement that bothers me.
THIS IS NOT NEW… This is something very old that some of us have found priceless value in. There might be some fancy new gadgets, websites and romanticizing publicity surrounding living off the grid or being a “Homesteader” But there is nothing new about it. Now there are thousands of new innovations and techniques developed, and utilized by intelligent and resourceful minds, and that’s great! Anything that increases the awareness of this lifestyle, and moves a population to step away from their over stimulated and over consuming behaviors is a tremendous thing, but make no question, the step you take towards living off the grid, the right step is not into a new place. It is turning around and going backwards towards something we’ve missed, something in the past. Now read on a bit more before you start dishing out the aphorisms about always looking forward…..and you cant relive the past, and yata yata yata…
I am a part of this movement. I believe in it completely because I feel the truthfulness of it in my bones. The urge to live closer to the land vibrates in the chord strings of my soul, but that feeling is not from something I read in the latest addition of “Modern Homesteader” or “Off Grid Magazine” or even “Mother Earth News” (I do subscribe to those publications in case you thought I was against them by my previous rhetoric) It resonates and resides in me because my ancestors put it there. Somewhere in the strands of my DNA is a link back in time. Its in all of us, because for the wide majority of Human existence on this planet there has been no Hollywood, Walmart, fossil fuels, or pretty little styrofoam packages of meat. Our ancestors hunted, gathered, farmed, and built their own small homes, and the longing to do so is in us for the same reasons that a herd of young elk will follow the same trails 800 miles through new country to get to safe winter grounds. Because their ancestors had done so, and had learned it was the best way to survive. Going off the grid or being self reliant is not something learned, It is something re-learned.
“Off Grid Living” publishes a revolving list of the top 45 resources for off the grid-ers and new comers, and it baffles me that not once have I seen the most valuable resource that we have on that list; Our Grandparents, and if you’re truly lucky; Great Grandparents. Their past is the greatest tool we have. They earned their livings and learned from their mistakes, and are for the most part eager to pass on that hard earned wisdom to someone intelligent enough to listen. What you will get from them if you are, is far more valuable then what you will find on Google or YouTube. I mean how long have those been around? ten years? When I was ten years old I once put ketchup and mustard on a bowl of ice cream and declared that it tasted great. Why you ask? because at ten years old I didn’t know shit, and it tasted so good that I never did it again. Today what my wife and I are trying to do in our journey towards self sufficiency is to right a wrong path. To go backwards in time just a few generations, and re-discover the skills and values that have seemingly been lost to ours. We want to earn our living by enriching our life,and eventually lead our family to do the same. I am not naive enough to think that what we are doing is the hot “new” thing. To say that, and buy into it is to steal something from every generation that had no other choice but to carve it out of the wild with their bare hands. I hope that those elders, are honored that more and more of us every day decide to listen, go backwards down the trail, and step back into their shoes.