I started by trying to write a piece for our friend's site - Overgrow the System - but spun off into fun land, so I think we just might keep this on as another long aside on the Winnie Diaries : }
Unedited - enjoy : )
I'll start by saying that it feels a little odd to be writing on this same subject for the 5th or 6th time ..
I could cut and paste much of what I've said in the past about dropping off the grid and living small(er), but I always start again from scratch.
Because I believe that we're always learning something new in this life. Even if I've just written about it 4 months ago, there are always new truths and challenges, setbacks, triumphs and adaptations.
When the mud fish projects itself out of the river and onto the muddy banks, getting ready to cocoon its body out of water for the dry season, I'm sure it can be an awkward thing. But all living creatures must realize that they have the option, in whatever way they choose, to leave the mainstream for the sake of survival and to live a happy life.
Transformation can be difficult. Slow. Scary if you're a human, and I'll tell you why. People don't like change. Most people. It scares them, society, and they can't help but tell you, for your own good, all about it.
Where will you sleep?
On the streets in that old motor home, you say ???
Isn't that dangerous? They'll ask.
And is that ... legal?? (that last word said in a slight whisper.)
But before I talk about things that happened 7 years ago, and how after much nibbling and convincing on my part, my soon-to-be-bride and I got rid of our things (and she had such lovely things ... such heavy things, too) and how we declined to renew the lease on the top-story apartment we couldn't afford, the one with the beautiful balcony view where the empty writing desk stood, and how we moved into a 1975 Winnebago in bad repair ... yes, before getting into any of that, I'd like to start at the beginning, where all things should start, and talk about all the well meaning people, friends and family members, who'll stand on the sidelines, and just as you're gathering your nerve, yell, "Boo!"
I've seen tons of articles about building your dream container home, tiny house or love wagon. Great resources, but let's first discuss coming out of the closet about moving off the grid. And this goes for yourself too .. let's not flower it up to endless freedom, naps on the reclaimed wood sun deck and Chinese tea and a good book in the loft. Frontier life has gotten easier since our great grandparents were dropping like flies from the flu .. but think about a full hot shower through a neddie pot and boiled in the tea kettle. Think about crapping in a bag because the engine's on the fritz and you can't get to the dump site or because the hand-dug septic tank isn't leaching right... It's best to keep a good sense of humor about these things : )
I can hear it now - from all the master builders of off the grid luxury. "A water heater is a very easy thing to install if you know what you're doing, and with an extra grey water tank, you can take a civilized shower in an RV."
Yes !!! This is true. And you can rig a solar panel with as much ease as making a pan of rice crispy treats, but you can also get overwhelmed over weather or not to put gas line tape on your connections, or maybe hire on a friend to start and never finish the job. You can try to save money (because isn't that what a lot of this is about) and buy a part that just won't work right.
What I'm trying to say is .. don't sell yourself the American Dream version of life off the grid. I could tell you some stories of roughing it in a time when the streets were too narrow to navigate and the city wanted us gone. But this is supposed to be inspirational, and I don't want to dampen the mood of hope and possibility. Even though ... what I have is so much more interesting than this Eden where you only hear birdsong and never thunder.
I think that most people who dream about this kind of thing envision finding a little spot of land to buy, renting a side yard in a beach community, care-taking on a ranch or farm (people Need that right? It has value.). And it can work that way, depending on where you live. But even if you're going to be grounded someplace, and not "homeless" like we were on the streets of Venice Beach, the beginning steps, and some of the things that can push you back from the edge, will still be the same.
But let's step outside of the fields of reality and into the minds of others. What I've found with dealing with the thoughts, fears and criticisms of others isn't simply not caring what they think or say. True apathy is a yogic talent that most of us Westerners can't just turn on. I'm more one for the psychology and the story behind it, the 'why' of the 'what is'.
Most times, you'll find that the way people try to steer your life comes directly from their own fear .. like trying to warn a character in a movie "Don't go back there!!", and it's a fear that's not built or based on real experience of their own. These fears are hard-won by the nightly news, by the teachers and parents and other authority figures who, by design, broke them ... and from watching other "different" people struggling and being attacked by a world that's setup for streamline .. everything.
So, when you really look at it. These people are fractured people with a fear of directional change. It's completely natural given the times we live in. Don't fight them or try to change their minds, you don't have the ad budget to win over the other campaign. But ... you also can't really take them seriously. So just move onward.
It's as simple as that.
Why would you listen to somebody's opinions regarding unorthodox simplicity and freedom when they've followed the paint-by-numbers sort of life? These are good people, who had much fight at one point, but the elements of the pressure of modern life are really quite brilliant .. storybook, and it's just. so. easy not to look around. So here we are.
Now that we've established the importance of credibility ... coming from somebody who's bucked the system since childhood, emotionally defaulted nasty teachers and adults to screaming children themselves, I'll tell you that the road can be long and hard. It doesn't have to be. But it is. And we can change it, but it's not going to be easy. And at present, the only thing that you can really do is live within the cracks of the system, sprout up like the dandelion, send your sweetness by way of the honey bee and hope you make it to seed in the breeze before Monsanto rounds you up.
Inspirational? Not really. But the other choice is staying back in the matrix, which for those who have begun to see, really see, can no longer do. Welcome friends. Let me pour you a strong gourd of honey mead, and then we can talk about tomorrow's plans.
Why such difficulty? Do we really have to hide our brides and poach our dinner in the King's forest?
Because we let it all get too out of hand. In my youth, I was busy proving myself over and over, being the most fearless skateboarder, and living an eternal Spring with my current girlfriend, and I didn't look up ... Where have you been? What have you been occupied with? Staying afloat, you say? Staying alive? But does it have to be that hard? Must life have such a high break-even point, to a time when you can turn the machine-mind off for a while and watch the clouds? Teach your kids? Fix yourself?
I think not.
Not in this time when machines do more work than ever, where everything in automated, touch screen and streamline. Where we employ slave labor from overseas to build our widgets and buy things cheap with the swipe of a card....
When women have joined the professional workforce, multiplying the capability of capitalism ... and still ... we have no time ???
Something is happening here, friends. The books don't add up. Output of life energy vs. stability, ease and happiness, which are really the things we're supposed to be buying, right?
I won't go into the causes of this, but still, all these words later I feel like I've just primed the cylinders on many topics that could suffocate an otherwise healthy open mind. So I'll refrain from doing that. I think people put too much step by step out there. I'm guilty of it at times, but really, if we're going to start at the beginning, I think it's best to just pull the crank and step back for a moment.
We need to multiply and help each other. We have to somehow physically exist in the same place at the same time, to steady the saw horse and lend a hand. I see it happening. On a small scale. People building things together. Growing things together. There are little safe spots and hideaways dotting the country, check in points for your game piece to land after you've rolled the dice on freedom. But we need more. And we need to stand up when They try and shut them down or strangle them in red tape.
And now .. I'm going to go take a long-overdue pee : )