I’m sure you are sick of hearing about off-grid living (or sick of not hearing about it, ha!), but there is something that has awakened in me over the past few months that I just can’t seem to shake. The discomfort and restlessness that seems to swirl within my gut when I am moved by something and all at once challenged by it, the epitome of growth has begun. I don’t know where this will take us. Maybe nowhere. And that’s okay too, but I have to explore and examine and maybe exhaust the idea to death in order to move forward, to dive deeper or swim in a totally different direction…
I don’t mean for this post to be controversial or guilt-laden, but these are my thoughts and my deepest reactions lately. I am in no way anti-technology or anti-smartphone; I am constantly amazed by and appreciate how far we have come and the convenience of it all. But moderation seems to be hard to come by. Lately everywhere I look I see faces 8 inches away from screens, not talking to each other or interacting with each other on a basic human level, face to face. Driving is scary — I glance over to see the driver of the car next to us texting away. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we have almost been hit by cars several times while crossing the busy street a few blocks from our house because those drivers are clearly texting or looking at their smartphones.
I see ultra-competitive and judgmental parenting and want to barf or scream and run the other way. I experience a loneliness on the playground in a neighborhood jam-packed with children on a beautiful summer day… where are they all hiding? Of course I experience all the opposite as well — some great connections with people, some connected and grounded parents, some kids who run just a little amok (thank goodness!), but maybe I expect more? I feel really sad about it right now.
And all of it makes me want to push against it. I think I’m in a fragile place right now. I long for open spaces and nature and the freedom to raise whatever kinds of animals or food we want on our property without permits and fees and inspections (they make it really hard to keep chickens in our neighborhood!). I want to see for miles from the top of a mountain overlooking trees and meadows and rolling hills. I want to watch our boys experiencing the world and wildness in all its beauty and intensity and harshness and wonder without feeling pulled to screens and busy schedules and a barrage of consumerism.
I want this, and I don’t. I know how hard it would be, how lonely it could be, how impractical at times it would be. I know I am an extrovert. That people, the right people, make me feel a joy and connectedness that is incomparable. That there is sometimes nothing better than laughing with a girlfriend over a cup of coffee, that running into interesting new people can make my day full of color and life and surprises.
All of these thoughts bounce around in my head all day long. It has dominated my thoughts since early June and I think the only to work through them is to read. I am devouring off-grid literature and ideas lately. This book I am enjoying immensely and thought I would share. Even if you’re not at all considering this lifestyle, the book is spiritual and thought-provoking and inspiring.
And because I am only just beginning the book (and could never write quite as succinctly), here is praise for the book by Mira Kamdar, author of Planet India:
A compassionate yet powerful personal odyssey into the heart of what it means to choose to live with less in a world gone mad for more. William Powers’s Twelve by Twelve is not only a retreat of mind from which we all can draw sustenance as we gird ourselves to confront a world heading for catastrophe, it is also a template we can use to ask ourselves what, really, is important in our lives.
I can only say that upon returning home from a week-long break from my computer and cell phone, getting back on the computer was a deeply depressing let-down for me. I think I expected something more, that I had missed out on something, but I found quite the opposite. The habit I had gotten into of constantly “checking in” during the day– checking my email, going on Pinterest, flitting about on the internet, left me feeling completely hollow and disappointed. I think the only thing I am finding worthwhile is reading the blogs of people I truly admire and have somehow steered clear of the consumerism and emptiness that sometimes accompanies blogging lately– people like Milla and Lilly, Anne and Jessica, Erin and Heather to name a few, and there are so many more! The genuineness of these women gets to me in such a good way, and I appreciate it always. But there is so much more I can do without, and will. So in the attempt to get to the bottom of it all, I will close the computer during the day and write posts at night, and in-between I will figure it all out, and I will read.