My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Straddling the Grid

Living off the gird. It's a phrase we hear these days usually used by those of us who disaffected by our loss of privacy, increased dependence upon a system that threatens to consume itself it it's hunger for resources and the overwhelming imbalance of power in the hands of those few who control, and abuse those resources. It is called a Utopian Ideal by some critics, a aging hippie pipe dream, pretty but unrealistic.
The motivations for life off the grid are as varied as the individuals who envision the dream. Some are based in political ideology mostly of the libertarian or anarchist sort. Some are motivated by a spiritual drive to create a way of life that is in Harmony with Source. Some are the dreams of environmentalists who, understanding that our current way of life portends certain disaster, strive to preserve and heal what is left of the abundance and beauty of this planet, our home. And then there are simply eccentric, die hard non-conformists who refuse to live by another man's rules. The roots of my dreams tap into each of these foundations with stronger hold on the spiritual and environmental source along with a healthy dose of eccentric non-conformity. I am still grounded enough in pragmatic reality to acknowledge that there are elements of the current system that I need or want at least for now.
That is why I straddle the grid, one foot grounded in the resources that keep me alive, healthy and in contact with community and the other in a world that lives by my own rules, creates resource out of surplus and strives to give back to the planet that has sustained and nurtured me and my kin.
This is the birth of a project and soon to be video series that is the brainchild of my children and myself. We have decided to create a "family documentary", maybe to be kept within the family as a kind of scrapbook, or maybe we will decide to share it with others, we haven't decided yet. Either way it will be a journal of our experience as we navigate life on our terms and perhaps we will learn something about ourselves and our priorities as we review the process. Maybe we will discover even more efficient and productive strategies for moving even further away from the grid, or maybe we will realize we are just fine the way we are.
We have learned that it is possible to live happily while forgoing many of the conveniences that many Americans take for granted. We have discovered that time well spent as a family is far more valuable than the toys and luxuries that can be bought only by sacrificing the majority of one's waking hours to an job separated from home and family. My children don't remember what presents they got for most holidays, what they do remember is the fun they had with each other and their parents. They don't remember that when they were toddlers we struggled to pay the bills, but they do remember the other children they played, fought and bonded with as I provided home day care so I could make ends meet while staying home with my family. When their father took a job as an apartment manager so they could afford rent, they don't remember feeling poor, they remember how fun it was to help Dad vacuum the hallways. As adults they have chosen careers not for prestige and wealth but for the fulfillment of their own passions and talents, as did their father and I.
And every one of us has the common sense and kindness to help others in need, whether it means sharing what we have materially or offering emotional support and care. We appreciate what we do have and we don't expect more. We are not off the grid, we pay rent, utilities and we work. We have medical needs that require insurance, which we can't afford so we do use state insurance ..which we pay for in sales tax. If not for two preexisting conditions which require daily medication we would probably take our chances with natural remedies and sensible health care, but it is what it is. For the little we do avail ourselves of there is so much more that we do not take. None of us owns a car, none of us uses microwave ovens or for that matter most appliances found in most modern homes. We recycle our trash, we donate the clothes we outgrow and we repair the ones that tear. When we need new clothes we usually shop at Goodwill or other resale stores. We take less in resources from the planet than the average American and yet we hear people complain about the small amount of "entitlements" we use in order to meet basic life saving needs. I think it's a pretty fair trade when you consider the respect we give to the greatest life sustainer of all, the Earth and her resources. If my children were to be paid a fair wage for the work they do, one that increased in proportion to the rising costs of necessities like food and housing, and if the cost of health care was not wildly out of proportion we wouldn't need the "entitlements".
So our life, not so different or special, is a life just left of the grid where so many cling in comfort and or desperation to the illusion of safety and normalcy. I am so incredibly grateful that I don't feel the need to have designer clothes a new car every year or a home in the suburbs to feel complete, or 'safe'. I'm glad that I don't own a single credit card or have a mortgage. I am grateful that I can find joy in quite simple pleasures that can be found while taking a walk in the park or playing with my grandchildren. If I am considered eccentric or odd by a culture that is literally dying to maintain a standard of living that is an insult to the majority of the rest of the world, then I will wear those labels with pride.
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

1 comment:

  1. It is so refreshing to read this blog. My husband and I bought a piece of land out in the middle of nowhere hundreds of miles away from where we live now. In five years, we hope to sell everything we have and build a yurt on it, grow organic food, and homeschool our children. We've stopped using microwaves, we have fluoride filters for our water, and I use vinegar and water instead of chemicals to clean. Good for you. More and more people are waking up. It's nice to know we're not alone.

    People think we're crazy. But I know we're not.