Saturday, January 14, 2017

My Off the Grid Fantasy

The forecast is calling for a severe ice storm over the next twenty-four hours, as in the kind of ice storm that snaps power lines and makes travel impossible. On my Facebook feed, my friends' responses range from "Oh no! Praying it passes us!" to "Yeah! Bring out the chain saw and the rock salt!" 

Once the news of the impending storm hit, I started getting an excited, tingling feeling. Mr. Man-of-the-House is right there with me! The threat of a storm brings out the very best in him. We spent yesterday making soups (in case we lose power), bringing enough firewood into the house and garage to get us through until spring, and stocking up on kerosene and candles.  Oh, and just in case we do lose power, we did all the laundry. Going without electricity for days would mean no washer and dryer.

As all forecasts invariably do, the prediction of when and how much ice we will be getting began to change. As the projected amounts of ice dropped from an inch to a half an inch, my heart began to sink a little. Yes, I know, that's still a lot of ice. Yes, I know that great amounts of property damage can ensue from an ice storm. I understand that there are people who will have to get out on the bad roads and risk their lives to go to jobs that they cannot miss. I'm ashamed to admit that I'm still praying for a big ice storm. 


Why do I want a disaster to happen? 

I don't want anyone to suffer. I really just want some downtime. I want something that forces me and my family to disconnect from the 24/7 society we live in, a society where we are expected to accomplish, achieve, and be available at all times. Our minds are cluttered with social media, on-line gaming, and multiple forms of instant entertainment.  While I love technology, the easy accessibility creates an overwhelming amount of choices and mental chaos. I want something that forces us to reconnect with ourselves. 

I have a fantasy of living off the grid. Could I really do it? Perhaps. But my writing career leans on the functions of technology and on the connections made through social media. My "day job" requires that I live near people, and that I'm accessible through social media. All in all, the benefits of our electronic society far outweigh the negatives.

An ice storm, especially one that causes loss of power, would be a temporary "off-the-grid" experience. I imagine that if power loss were to last for more than a day, it would cause us the re-examine the way we utilize our resources. We would also view our time very differently. When I was a child, my family didn't have a television. My parents thought it was junk and unnecessary. For entertainment, we read books, created art, and played games (not the electronic kind). I'd love to say that I'm giving my children the same experience in their childhood, but I'd be lying. All too often, I cave to begging for "one more YouTube video" or "one more game". 

Why do I need an ice storm to take a break?

I should  be asking myself why I need an ice storm to take a break from everything. Shouldn't I be able to assert myself? To just say "no" to the demands, texts, and expectations? The truth is that I feel guilty if I'm not achieving something. I feel lazy if I'm not working or creating. It's very easy for me to tell a friend to take a break. I have a much harder time giving myself permission to rest. I'm afraid that an opportunity might pass me by, or that I will let someone down. I could blame the pressure on our society. There is certainly a culture of expectation. In reality, the pressure is totally on me. I feel the need to be busy, to stay cluttered and chaotic. I guess in some way, it makes me feel validated.  

Dig out the board games

No matter what the weather does, we have a fridge full of meals, oil lamps and candles in every room, and a fire in both fireplaces. There is no place that we have to be this weekend. The kids played a rousing game of Fallout Monopoly last night, and even though they finished with an argument, at least they spent time together doing something real.  
My six-year-old created structures with her wooden blocks for several hours this morning. I'm appreciating that we have a small amount of downtime, even if we still have lights, heat, and dry roads.
I'm reminded that I am the gatekeeper of my life, and that I might not get the go-ahead from an external source to take a rest. It's up to me to take what I need to be a balanced individual. 

2 comments:

  1. I like the way you think!! I'd like to try off grid living and everything you wrote makes sense to me. there are many times I imagine us just having to go to the farm and live. That's why we try to keep it stocked and ready but like you, our jobs (currently) require us to stay close to the city. Maybe someday!

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    1. It's awesome that you have the farm, and that you have the mindset to keep it stocked and ready whatever may come! You're one step ahead of us, and for that I commend you. Thank you for stopping by!

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