Several of my friends got fed up with the 9 to 5 day-to-day, and decided to leave their old lives, in some cases even civilisation behind; the comforts of urban society, the convenient security of steady jobs and health insurance. All of them swear that it’s worth it, and they couldn’t imagine going back to pick up the threads of their old lives. Could that be true? Naturally, I started wondering if that tendency is a healthy form of escapism or part of a bigger trend, as more and more people decide to shed the expectations of society.
Admittedly I’ve been contemplating something similar for a while now. My fears still stop me: would it be selfish not wanting to work in a corporate environment and waste my talents, instead of pursuing my own personal and professional development? I’d still need to make money to live, but do I have any marketable skills to support myself? Honestly, I’m not sure of either. On the other hand, recent changes push me in that direction, and becoming independent doesn’t scare me senseless, as it did not so long ago. You may argue that downsizing, living in quirky micro-houses and off the grid also became a common trend in recent years and that it’s nothing but a trend, that can’t be the answer to all problems. Or that their contentment is simply self-justification to soothe the cognitive dissonance, that is inevitable after abandoning the well-known. Are the two tendencies even related?
More importantly, what drives these people? Is it restlessness, a desperate attempt to recapture their youth, and live out their dreams before they succumb to the inevitability of growing up and getting back into the hamster wheel? Is it the irrepressible aspiration to move from a state of longing to belonging, so we can experience interpersonal relationships in a more tightly knit community, without relying solely on technology? Or is it simply the hypnotic pull of the exotic, the out of the ordinary, the striving to live a unique, hippy-esque life? Maybe there are as many answers as people. But that kind of packing up, jumping-over-the-back-fence-and-never-looking-back attitude requires a commitment that goes way beyond taking a quick holiday to an exotic destination.
The point is, most of us don’t fancy stepping out of our comfort zone, we hold onto it like a security blanket to keep us feeling safe and sane. Because taking a charter plane to a beach resort, spending a week on the beach of one of the almost identical hotels, eating a continental breakfast every morning is a great example of how we bring our expectations and mindsets with us when we leave home. We cling onto the well known, and our venture becomes much like standing behind a cutout papermache figure, sticking our face through the designated hole to pose as our favourite superhero. But I digress. Leaving urban society can surely have some repercussions. But let’s say we’re ready to turn our back on life as we know it, and take a leap of faith to become independent, to live in an environment of our choosing, to do what we love. How viable is it to try and live outside the norm that our upbringing has thought us?
A very good friend of mine, Julia (who also lives more or less off the grid and makes a living offering personal retreats on the Mexican Riviera), told me about her constant clashes with her father, and his unwavering disapproval over her life choices. Then she burst out laughing, realising that despite their differences they’ve both reached their goal: she has never been happier, and her father (who always raised her to find contentment, whatever it was she was doing) achieved the ultimate success as a parent. And maybe the answer is that simple in the end: overcoming our fears we pursue what makes us happy and if things don’t pan out, we make do and take comfort in the fact that we tried. What ifs won’t haunt us anymore, regretting inaction is finally off the list.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Would you consider living off the grid?
If so, do you have a backup plan? Let me know in the comments below.
This post is in response to The Daily Post’s Discover challenge: Risk.
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