Have you ever wondered if living off the grid is an actual option for you? I know you have, for I have considered it too whenever modern life becomes too overwhelming and stressful.
This school of thought was born in 2013, shortly after I had graduated as an IT engineer. The romanticized idea of complete self-sufficiency came to me as I rewatched the life-changing and seriously underrated biopic called Into The Wild. In the spirit of not giving away any spoilers, all I will say is that the film is based on the life of Christopher McCandless, a young American graduate who turned his back on civilization and went off to live in the wilderness all by himself.
As a newly minted engineer without a job or a purpose, I strongly identified with Chris’s rejection of society. Who am I kidding? I have always had a bone to pick with society.
Since I felt like just as much of a misfit as him, I thought that it wouldn’t hurt if I tried to break free myself.
Like I usually do, I turned to Google to find out how. To my surprise, I discovered that there are quite a few people rocking this lifestyle. I ached to be one of them but something always stopped me. Maybe it was the fear of failure or death. I don’t really know what it was.
Five years later, I am glad I didn’t bother trying.
Sure, it sounds poetic to move to the middle of nowhere, wake up to breathtaking scenery, and live off the land. However, it isn’t as simple as that. Nature is as cruel as it is beautiful. One cannot rely on it to fulfill basic needs. When you are cut off from the rest of the world, you have to put in real work to ensure you live comfortably.
In fact, you have to work twice as hard when you go off the grid.
Because unlike civilized life, you cannot take access to utilities (like water, electricity, Internet) and experts (like your plumber, doctor, mechanic) for granted. The infographic below shows some of the systems you have to set up *just within your home* to be able to live independently:
And let’s not forget the most important thing – you have to figure out ways to survive when something breaks or fails. No matter how well you plan and think ahead, something or the other will catch you off guard. You will be faced with hurdles you never even thought existed when you live in a remote location. But that is not your fault.
As people, we are not hardwired to do every little thing solo.
Civilization wouldn’t be around for so long if we were all perfectly self-reliant individuals. Since we are in the age of technology-fueled instant gratification, getting away from it all is much harder than it used to be in the past. Case in point: Many of us have become accustomed to the aristocratic ease with which we purchase goods and services from pretty much any corner of planet Earth. All it takes is the touch of a button. It is hard to get away from stuff like that and why should we? Perks like these make modern life bearable.
Like me, you probably do not want to give up your creature comforts. So if you struggle to cook for yourself and fall back on eateries a couple of times a month, growing your own food is not your thing. Just the mere thought of it probably makes you miserable. And let’s not get into how attached you are to your smartphone and data plan.
Look, the world is becoming crazier by the hour. There’s no denying that.
It is natural to want to escape when we are tired of putting up with everyday problems like meaningless work, nerve-wracking traffic jams, mounting bills, frequent acts of violence, political bullshit. There is no denying that life is hard and society is largely to blame.
But does that mean our only option is to head off to some secluded location and rough it?
When us free-thinkers and peace-lovers are the ones in the right, why should we move? Isn’t it our moral responsibility to try and change the world in whatever way we can?
Civilization isn’t going to rebuild itself if we turn our backs on it.
Still, at times, I can’t help but fantasize about getting away from this cruel, draining world and escaping to a solitary cottage in the hills.
The only difference is, I now know it as a dangerous dream that I am never going to act on. I hope I have convinced you to feel the same, fellow escapist.
TL;DR Modern life is becoming increasingly stressful, but the off the grid lifestyle (even with good company and facilities like Internet access) is not the solution. We have to be a part of society to be able to change it.
Satiate the explorer within with this list of Films and TV Series For People Living In the City, But Dreaming of the Woods or the Next Road Trip.